Here is a proverb that agrees perfectly with what is said in the New Testament. We read in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is that truth stated in another way. Whereas the 1 John passage states this truth in the positive only, this proverb also warns us about not dealing with our sins.
The Concealer . . . First we are told about the fate of the one who conceals his transgressions. The word "conceal" means to cover - and has the idea of a cover up. This man is hiding his transgressions (word meaning a sin or rebellion - here against God and His Law and way). He is not willing to bring his sin to light before God. Therefore he hides his rebellion thinking that God does not see him. This word was used to describe how Joseph's brothers tried to hide their sin when they dipped his coat in goat's blood and brought to Jacob.
Psalm 32:5 also speaks of his particular sin of hiding and trying to cover up our sin. The Psalmist says, "I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah." When he was trying to hide his sin from God, the Psalmist had nothing but grief and pain - but when he faced his sin before God that is when he received forgiveness. Hiding our sins is not only counterproductive - it is also kind of silly. We serve a God Who is omniscient. He knows all things. When Adam and Eve tried to hide in the garden - it was out of shame and rebellion. The problem for them was that God could still see them - and did even as they committed the first sin. Cain answered God rebelliously when God asked where his brother Abel was. Cain must have thought God did not see - but he did - and Abel's blood was crying out to God from the ground. Moses thought he could kill the Egyptian and hide him in the piles of grain - but God saw - as well as some other Hebrews. The simple fact of all this is that we can never hide our sin from a holy, omniscient God. He truly sees all!
Proverbs tells us that this man who is trying to conceal his sin will not prosper. "Prosper" is tsalach and means to succeed or to be victorious. It has the idea of breaking out or breaking through - and has a military aspect to it. It spoke of how an army would break through their enemies - which was a sure sign that they were about to defeat their enemies. But what Proverbs says to us is that concealing our sins is a sure way to know we will NOT PROSPER! We will not break through to God - we will not break through to victory - we will not break through to see strongholds and sins overcome. And beyond that - we won't prosper spiritually period! If this was all this proverb said - it would be great counsel - but would leave us with just a warning. Yet God does not want us only to receive correction - He wants us to receive counsel.
The Lord wants us to confess and forsake our sin. When we choose rebellion and sin against God, we are in serious trouble. We are facing judgment if we do not know Christ - or discipline if we do. What we need is grace - we need God's compassion. That is exactly what Proverbs is wanting to teach us. How do we obtain the compassion of God when we sin?
First, we confess our sins and rebellion. What is fascinating here is the word that God uses to describe confession. The Hebrew word is "yadah." This word means to throw towards - to cast something towards. Here it means to throw off our sin and cast it towards God. It means that we are throwing all our sin and rebellion to God - with a desire for Him to show us forgiveness and compassion. What is wild is that this same word is used for praising God - meaning that we are casting our hands up into the air and casting our praises toward God. God does not want us to try to hold our sins close to us - He wants us to cast those sins away from us and toward Him for His compassion and grace!
There is a second thing God desires here for us to receive compassion. Some teach that all we need to do is to confess our sins and everything is fine with God. That is true - if this second attitude is present. If it is not - I do not believe the Bible says that we will receive forgiveness. We also need to forsake our sins. This word means to abandon, desert, leave behind, completely neglect and STOP. When we come to God seeking His compassion and forgiveness - we need to come with a heart that says, "Please forgive me God . . . and I also want to forsake and abandon my sin." This is the kind of heart that finds compassion before God. Compassion means that God shows us mercy and a deep, kindly sympathy.
This verse is so key to us knowing fellowship and grace from God. It is so important for us to grasp the call of God to us to deal with our sins and rebellion. I honestly believe that just as 1 John 1:9 is such a blessed verse - this verse in Proverbs 28:13 is as well. Oh that we would hear this and heed it as well. Believe me, if we do, we will obtain the grace, mercy, and compassion that we need.