Proverbs 28:13

Dealing with Sins

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper:
but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.


1. This proverb speaks of the right way to deal with sins in our lives.

2. We are told what not to do and then what to do… and WHY.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper

A. He That Covereth His Sins

1. It is part of our fallen human nature to want to cover up our sins.

2. Nobody likes to admit sin, guilt, and shame. It is much easier to cover it up.

3. This is just what Adam did after the fall –

a. He never felt any guilt or shame about being naked before the fall. Why should he? He had no sin nature… no evil thoughts or feelings.

b. But when he fell into sin, everything changed.

c. Gen. 3:7 – But once he sinned, and his mind was corrupted by sinful thoughts and feelings, he attempted to “cover himself up” with fig leaves, hoping that somehow, his sin would not be discovered.

d. Gen. 3:8 – Then they attempted to run and hide from God.

e. They also sought to hide from their sins by blaming others. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.

f. That was a blatant cover-up.

4. This has been the consistent method man has used in dealing with his sin ever since: cover it up and run and hide… and pretend it never happened… or pretend that it wasn’t that bad…

a. Religion has been the tool of the devil to help man run and hide from God… and to help man cover up his sins… and sooth his guilty conscience WITHOUT confession and forsaking them!

b. Religion tells him he can do good works to counteract his sinful deeds… and if he tries real hard, he will be accepted by God. He just needs to make sure that his good works outnumber his sins.

5. Our proverb states that covering up our sins is NOT the right way to deal with them.

6. Covering:

a. Keep to oneself, not respond with knowledge, i.e., keep information from others, though known and understood by oneself; conceal; hide.

b. Gen. 18:17 – “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?”

c. Gen. 7:20 – “Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.” (out of sight)

d. Ex. 15:5 – “The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.” (The Egyptian army was covered up by the Red Sea.)

e. This is NOT the term often translated in the Old Testament as “atonement,” which speaks of a covering.

f. The term in our proverb means to hide something, conceal it.

7. By “covering one’s sins,” Solomon is NOT speaking about an Old Testament saint who seeks to have his sins atoned for (covered up) by an animal sacrifice according to the Law.

a. He is speaking about an Old Testament sinner who seeks to conceal the fact that he sinned…

b. There are plenty of examples of this in the Scriptures too. This trait of fallen Adam was passed on to every one of his sons—every one of us!
• I Sam. 15:13 – “And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”
• Saul tried to cover up his sin by a half truth. He did obey God… but only partially.
• He was covering up the fact that they did not fully carry out God’s commands. It was a convenient lie.
• But God was not fooled… neither was God’s spokesman, Samuel.

B. Shall Not Prosper

1. Prosper:

a. This term is broader that prospering financially.

b. Literally: to come on mightily; to be forceful, i.e., have an overpowering force, with the resultant strong, successful action.

c. It speaks of succeeding at an endeavor; flourishing, thriving, being victorious;

d. It is often used of God causing a person’s WAYS to prosper.
• Gen. 24:21 – “And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.”
• Gen. 39:2 – “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man.” This speaks of Joseph being a successful man – not just wealthy.
• I Kings 22:12 – “And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the king’s hand.” They were predicting a successful battle.
• Num. 14:41 – “And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.” Their rebellion would not be successful or victorious. It would fail.

2. The point of the proverb is that regardless of how clever, subtle, deceptive, artful, or shrewd one is at covering up his sins, he will not be successful.

a. The sinner might be successful at covering up his sins from men, but never from God.

b. Num. 32:23 – “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.”

c. Ps. 90:8 – All of our sins have been set before the Lord… our secret sins too! The sins no other human being knows about—God does.

d. Ps. 139:11-12 – There is nowhere to hide from the eyes of the Lord.

e. Prov. 15:3 – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good.”

f. Luke 12:2 – Jesus said, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.”

3. Psalm 32:1-4: Not only will the sinner who attempts to hide his sins not be successful, he will be miserable!

a. Here David speaks of his sin with Bathsheba—about a year or so before the writing of this psalm.

b. In verse one he speaks about the blessedness of one whose sin is covered.
• This is a different term for cover.
• This is the kind of covering that God does.
• This covering results in forgiveness. (Of course their sins were forgiven on credit in the Old Testament… awaiting THE Lamb of God.)

c. However, David did not immediately go to the Lord with his sin to confess it in true repentance. He tried to cover it up and hide… like his forefather, Adam.

d. For about a year after his sin, David “kept silence.” He did not come to God in repentance. He was out of fellowship.

e. What was life like for a godly man out of fellowship during that year?
• His bones waxed old.
• His inner man roared (groaned) all day long.
• God’s hand was heavy upon him.
• He dried up like a withered plant in a drought.
• Life was miserable.

But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy

A. The Terms

1. Confess: To acknowledge; admission of sin or guilt; praise.

a. It is sometimes translated “praise.” The sense there is that to acknowledge God’s name is to praise His name.

b. The term speaks of acknowledging the truth of something or someone.

c. It is a common term used for acknowledging sin… admission of guilt… confessing sins.

d. Lev. 5:5 – “And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing.” This was to be accompanied by a trespass offering unto the Lord. (vs.6)

e. Psalm 32:5 – used of David acknowledging his sin before God.

f. God demands that we CONFESS our sins (I John 1:9)
• There can be no blaming others.
• Acknowledging our sin means that we acknowledge that it IS sinful. There can be no excuses… no rationalization… no attempts to justify our actions…

2. Forsaketh: To abandon; leave behind; release; depart from; reject; desert.

3. Ps. 55:1-12 – David wrote another poem about his sin and the results of acknowledging and forsaking his sin before God.

a. Vs. 1 – He prayed for God’s mercy and lovingkindness.

b. Vs. 2 – He asked God to wash away his sin.

c. Vs. 3 – FOR – on what basis was David able to ask for God’s mercies and cleansing? FOR he acknowledged his sin.

d. Vs. 4 – He acknowledged that his sin with Bathsheba was really a sin against God. All sin is against God.

e. Vs. 5- He acknowledges that sin is his nature.

f. Vs. 12 – He prayed for a restoration of the JOY of his salvation.

g. Vs. 16-17 – Though David was required to offer the proper sacrifices for his sins, (and he certainly would honor God in this too), yet he also recognized that the REAL sacrifice God was looking for was a broken and contrite heart… true repentance.

h. With that heart attitude, David was able to come to God for mercy… and receive it.

i. As David’s son later wrote in Proverbs 28:13, “Whoso confesseth and forsaketh them (sins) shall have mercy.”

B. Shall Have Mercy

1. The one who covers his sins shall not be successful. He will have misery… suffering… failure… and chastening…

2. But the one who acknowledges his sins and forsakes them, shall have mercy. Which would you rather have?

3. Mercy: Compassion; to be loved; to show strong affection for; to have deep sympathy for; to feel sorry for.

4. Psalm 103:13 – “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”
a. This is a fatherly kind of pity towards a beloved child.

b. The father feels sorry and sympathetic when a beloved child fails or falls.

c. The relationship is restored. Fellowship resumes.

5. This is the JOY that David experienced when he acknowledged his sin before the Lord.

a. Ps. 32:1 – That’s when he wrote BLESSED IS THE MAN whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins is covered.

b. Ps. 32:7 – Then he experienced the joy of restored fellowship. Instead of hiding FROM God, he discovered he could hide himself IN God… God was once again his hiding place… his refuge…

c. Ps. 32:10-11 – David learned experientially of the sorrow of being out of fellowship… and of the mercy of restored fellowship. That brought to his heart gladness and rejoicing… shouting for joy!