How old were you when you learned to hide things from your parents? or to try and hide them… because so often it seems the grown-ups have eyes in the back of their heads, or some uncanny ability to work out that we’re not quite telling them the full story…
I remember going on a date when I was about six. No, we didn’t really call it a date, it was just the boy next door inviting me to go with him to the local falafel place and eat a falafel together. (In Israel that is the most basic food to buy.) The tiny problem with this plan was that he didn’t have any money, but this didn’t faze the young rascal – he brazenly went to his grandma and asked her for money to buy exercise books for school. When we came back, we were surprised by his grandmother’s question: nu, what were the exercise books like, were they tasty?
I guess we must have had some tahini sauce smeared on our little faces. 🙂
So, when we’re six we might not be so very sophisticated and we might not be so good at covering up our misdeeds. But judging by all those recent superinjunctions, or just by the headlines we see in the papers so often, it looks like grown-ups don’t do it all that well either. Every now and again we hear of another famous person who thought he’d be able to hide an affair, or a shady business deal, or a fiddling of accounts, or whatever. And hey, don’t we take pleasure in watching them being embarrassed in front of the whole world… because of course we’re not like that, are we?… are we?
Of course the truth is we have all done stuff that we’d rather not broadcast to the whole world. We have all, at times, tried to cover something up.
There was a king a long long time ago who got another man’s wife pregnant and thought he could cover it up. He even had the woman’s husband killed in an attempt to cover up his adultery, and he thought he could cover the whole thing up – both the adultery and the murder. But then God sent a prophet to rebuke him – God uncovered his sin. But when God uncovers someone’s sin, it’s not for the fun of embarrassing them. God is not like the tabloids, who seek to make a profit at the expense of someone’s suffering. Nor is he like the tabloid readers, who take delight in reading about someone else’s misfortune. No, when God uncovers our sin it’s in order to give us a chance to repent, so that he could cover it for us!
Psalm 32 – which I understand David wrote after that event, after he was rebuked by the prophet and confessed his sin to God and received God’s forgiveness – starts with a cry of delight at how wonderful it is to be someone “whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”, and this reference is not to a sin that is covered up by a fallible human, who, just like my next-door neighbour when I was six, will be found out – if not by man (or by grandma) then definitely by God, who sees everything. No, this is not about a sin being covered up in an attempt to avoid embarrassment and punishment – this is about a sin being covered by God, who forgives us when we stop trying to cover up and confess our sins to him.
In verse 5 of this psalm, in the NIV translation it says: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.” In the NASB it says “hide” rather than “cover up”, which I feel is a bit of a shame as it misses the play on words in the original Hebrew – the word used is of the same root as the word “covered” in verse 1.
But here’s another thought: sometimes we don’t try and cover up the stuff we’ve done wrong, but we still don’t confess it to God.
There are things we do which our conscience may be trying to tell us are wrong, and instead of listening to the voice of our conscience, we talk to friends about it – choosing (subconsciously, I think) the friends who will give us the kind of feedback we want to hear. We share it with those friends who are likely to say things like “oh, me too” or “haha, good for you, you really showed him who’s boss” or “wish I was there to see the look on her face” or perhaps the more sensitive “hey, don’t beat yourself up too much, we all struggle with these temptations” – all things that help us to keep ignoring the voice of our conscience, and keep holding on to the illusion that what we did wasn’t really all that bad.
And this is really sad, because recognising we’ve done wrong is the first step on our path to freedom! Because we don’t need to live with that discomfort, with the burden of guilt that weighs us down – all we need to do is take it to God, say we’re really sorry (and mean it) and ask him to help us do better next time. And the blood of his Son is available for everyone, to cover our sins.
The idea for this post came from a sermon I heard in church last night. The whole thing about how we try to cover up our sins, how God uncovers them, and how when we confess our sins to him he covers them – that was all in the sermon. I then chewed on it some more, and when I got that extra insight about sins we don’t try to cover up but instead talk to friends about them, that’s when I felt I should blog about it.