As the story goes, a little boy and his older sister were spending two weeks of the summer vacation at their grandparents’ country home. When the boy complained of having nothing to do, his grandpa bought him a slingshot. The child had a wonderful time with the new weapon, firing away at fence posts, trees, and empty cans. Of course, all these targets were perfectly safe from his erratic aim.
One afternoon, though, the boy saw his grandma’s pet duck. He shot at it, fully expecting to miss as usual. But this time his aim was perfect. The duck dropped dead. Shocked, the little fellow picked up the lifeless bird and hid it under the woodpile. He then slipped guiltily into his grandmother’s kitchen. At that moment she was saying to his sister, “Sarah, I need you to set the table.” The girl replied, “Oh, I think Jimmy wants to do it.” In his ear she whispered, “I saw you kill the duck.” Jimmy set the table.
Sarah blackmailed Jimmy for several days. He made her bed, took her turn at washing the dishes, and did all her other chores. Finally, Jimmy could no longer stand it. He went to his grandma and confessed. “Jimmy,” she said, “I saw you kill my duck and hide it. I was just waiting to see how long you would let your sister make a slave of you.”
Our sin is rather like Jimmy’s dead duck. Any unconfessed transgression haunts and enslaves us. “When I declared not my sin,” David prayed, “my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4). David found relief only when he admitted his wrongdoing. “I acknowledged my sin to thee,” he continued, “and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin” (v. 5).