Psalm 19 is a wonderful psalm that praises God for his revelation in nature and in his word. It shows us how God’s creation declares his glory, and how his law gives us wisdom, joy, and guidance. But the psalm also reminds us of our need for God’s forgiveness and protection from sin. In verses 12 and 13, the psalmist prays:
“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:12-13 ESV)
What are these hidden faults and presumptuous sins that the psalmist is concerned about? And how can we be blameless and innocent before God?
Hidden faults are sins that we commit without knowing or recognizing them as sins. They are the result of our ignorance, weakness, or negligence. They may include things like pride, envy, selfishness, impatience, or unbelief. We may not be aware of them, but they still affect our relationship with God and others. They are like blind spots in our vision that prevent us from seeing clearly.
Presumptuous sins are sins that we commit deliberately and defiantly. They are the result of our rebellion, arrogance, or disobedience. They may include things like idolatry, adultery, murder, lying, or blasphemy. We know they are wrong, but we do them anyway. They are like open wounds in our soul that cause us pain and infection.
Both hidden faults and presumptuous sins can have serious consequences for our lives. They can lead us to more sin, guilt, shame, and judgment. They can also hinder our fellowship with God and our growth in godliness. That is why the psalmist asks God to forgive him of his hidden faults and to keep him from presumptuous sins. He knows that only God can cleanse him from his sin and protect him from its power.
How can we follow the example of the psalmist and be blameless and innocent before God? Here are some practical steps we can take:
Confess our sins to God regularly. We can ask God to search our hearts and reveal any hidden faults or presumptuous sins that we may have committed (Psalm 139:23-24). We can also confess our specific sins to God as soon as we become aware of them (1 John 1:9). We can trust that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Study God’s word diligently. We can learn from God’s word what pleases him and what displeases him. We can meditate on his law day and night, and store it in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). We can also apply his word to our lives by obeying his commands and following his principles (James 1:22). We can ask God to give us wisdom and understanding to know his will and to do it.
Seek God’s help constantly. We can acknowledge that we cannot overcome sin by our own strength or effort. We need God’s grace and power to resist temptation and to walk in holiness (Philippians 2:13). We can pray to God for his help in every situation, especially when we face trials or temptations (Hebrews 4:16). We can also rely on his Spirit who lives in us to guide us and empower us (Galatians 5:16).
Avoid sin’s influence carefully. We can be careful not to expose ourselves to things that may entice us to sin or cause us to stumble (Romans 13:14). We can avoid places, people, or activities that may lead us astray or harm our conscience (1 Corinthians 10:12). We can also surround ourselves with godly influences that may encourage us to pursue righteousness and godliness (Hebrews 10:24-25).
By following these steps, we can hope to be blameless and innocent before God. We can also experience the joy and peace that come from having a clean heart and a clear conscience before him. As the psalmist says in verse 14: