At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper:Proverbs 28:13
But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy
One of the basic questions of practical religion is the matter of covering sin. We all acknowledge that sin must be covered, and so the question relates to who is authorized to do it. Related to this is the question of who can do it effectively.
This proverb starts by saying that a man ought not to cover [his own] sin. In other words, this kind of covering is actually a covering up. If a man does this, his sins are hidden, not dealt with, and this will keep him from prospering. What he has done is to get tangled up in the sins that so easily entangle us (Heb. 12:1).
When you sweep sins under the carpet, the end result is a lumpy carpet. But in the second half of the proverb, the sinner is promised mercy. But what is mercy but the effectual covering of sin? The path to this desired result is the path of confession and forsaking. In other words, an honest and open acknowledgement of sin is the confession, and the forsaking of sin, turning away from it, abandoning it, is what we call repentance. So when a man is honest about what he has done, and when he walks away from it in repentance, the Lord promises mercy. That which is exposed is thereby covered. But when we try to cover things ourselves, we do not prosper, and our folly will be exposed.
All this relates to what the New Testament teaches us in a similar vein. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confession means that we are to say the same thing about our sins that God says about them. We must not try to cover our sins through a clever renaming of them—where adultery is called indiscretion, where a bad temper is called passionate, where cold anger is called parental firmness, and so on.
Prospering is in the hand of God, as is mercy, and we should always remember that He is the ones who sees everything.