Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Have you ever had to deal with unconfessed sin your life? You knew what you did was not right, but refused to make it right with God or with others. It is miserable. It feels like it is there all the time and just won’t go away. Not until the sin is confessed and forsaken are we set free from the bondage of that sin.
Proverbs 28:13 gives us wisdom about sin in our life. It is foolish to try to hide (“conceal”) the sin. We often do this in a number of ways—perhaps by denying that it was really serious or insisting that it was really not our fault. We often refuse to hear our conscience. David knew of this great agitation when he sought to cover his sin (Psalms 32 & 51). Our first parents ran from God in the Garden of Eden and we try to run from God each day when we refuse to acknowledge our sin and confess it. Such a person can not “prosper.” In other words, he can not obtain the pardon of his sin nor have any true peace. This person may prosper in the world or in his employment, but without confession and repentance, he will not have peace.
The second half of the verse offers us hope and tells us that it is by God’s mercy that the guilt of sin is lifted and we are set free when we confess the sin. “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:9). When we follow the wisdom of this proverb, God gives us comfort, our consciences are at ease, and the effects of sin in our life are prevented. It is a blessing to live knowing that our sins are covered.
Matthew Henry has an interesting thought; When we set sin before our face and acknowledge it before God, God puts it behind his back. May the Lord by his Spirit help us to be quick to confess and turn from our sin, even this very day.