The Anatomy of Repentance (Biblical Perspectives)

Psalms 51: 1-4
"Have pity on me, O God, in keeping with your mercy. In keeping with your unlimited compassion, wipe out my rebellious acts. Wash me thoroughly from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. I admit that I am rebellious. My sin is always in front of me. I have sinned against you, especially you. I have done what you consider evil. So you hand down justice when you speak, and you are blameless when you judge."
(God's Word Translation)

   David in Psalms 51 provides a blueprint for us to follow of what repentance is and should be. For those who do no know the story that led David to pen these profoundly moving words that are infused with remorse and sorrow, I would urge you to read it in 2 Samuel Chapters 11 and 12 then read Psalm 51. You will then understand that God used David- a “man after his own heart” to convey the depths of sin and the height of repentance through his experience.

Paradoxically, when we are engaged in it, it is “sin” that feels like height and “repentance” that seems like depths- because it is a hidden and difficult road to walk on. Repentance is something that we have to seek out and when we find it, it causes us pain. Repentance always confronts us with the ugliness of our own human nature.

David committed adultery with Bathsheba the beautiful wife of Uriah, a soldier in his army. When Bathsheba became pregnant, David covered his tracks by arranging for Uriah to be killed on the frontline of battle. Following Uriah’s death, David marries Bathsheba and it is only when God exposes his sin through a message from the prophet Nathan, that he realises the heinous nature of his act (see 2 Samuel 12:13). It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance and it is this very gift that shows us the way to holiness (Romans 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9).

When we are in the throes of sin (transgression of God’s law) we ignore the fact that each one is judged by God and will not go unpunished. Many will recognise the verse “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but sin makes us forgetful. We are reminded by Moses in Exodus 34:6-7 that “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful, gracious and longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.”

In David’s story, the baby from the elicit affair dies as a result of God’s judgement. God’s mercy is evident when Bathesheba gives birth to Solomon the wisest man whoever lived and the builder of the first ever temple in Jerusalem.

To be repentant, we must see sin for what it is-ugly and dangerous and agree with God. God in his mercy is always drawing our attention to our sinful natures-like David he may use others, his word or circumstances to get our attention. When we realise that we have sinned, then we have to let God know and ask for his forgiveness. We must also remember that when we do not seek forgiveness for our sins, they get in the way of our relations with God and with others (see Matthew 6:12-15).

David’s words above reveal his sorrow, contrition and guilt. He calls sin by its name recognising that it has separated him from a relationship with God. He then asks to be cleansed thoroughly from his transgression. Like David, let us examine ourselves, tell God what we have done, that we are sorry and that we want to change. The final part of repentance is the desire to change and turn away from sinful acts. May we like David cry out to God “create in me a clean heart; and renew a right spirit within me” and may God in his mercy, respond by blessing us with Solomons.


Collection of Biblical Perspectives

The Lifesaving Good News

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Happiness; a much-sought after state of mind

is, according to the bible, what all Christians need to be striving for...more

Nothing of Himself

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When placed in context of the scriptural passage, we find Jesus describing his mission on earth as God's spiritual peace envoy...more

My Faith

Faith is intangible and invisible and yet it is an essential element in the Christian walk...more

Salvation: The Ark of God!

We need not question any further; God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in partnership to execute the mystery of salvation...more

The Anatomy of Repentance

Paradoxically, when we are engaged in it, it is "sin" that feels like height and "repentance" that seems like depths...more

The Purpose of Joy

Joy therefore is the natural response to the transformation brought about by divine intervention...more

Be Still And Know God

Stillness is a state of mind- not moving or making a sound (adjective) deep silence and calm...more

Finding Our Purpose

If we are made in the image and likeness of God, he expects us to have his character as well...more

Suffering to Learn from

What is clear however is that God has designed suffering for us to learn from, praise Him for and gain righteousness in...more


God is the king who mercifully forgave the debt of ten thousand talents which was owed to him by one of his servants...more


In the parable prayer is characterised as an impossible activity: an exchange between the lowest of the low in society with the most inaccessible authority of the land...more


We need not succumb to fear when we have God on our side. If we exchange human fear with "fear of the Lord" we have wisdom...more

Have Faith in God!

It is interesting that prayer is the essential component in developing faith in God...more


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