Thursday, February 3, 2022

Repentance: A Doorway to Joy


By: Donna Bucher

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy  blot out my transgressions.

Psalm 51:1



Psalm 51 presents the hallmark psalm for repentance. My fingers know exactly where it lives in my well-worn Bible. Yet until recently, I found my approach to repentance leaned more towards dread, despair and duty rather than a joyful doorway to reconciliation.


Understanding the need for repentance as a vital part of my Christian walk and knowing the benefits of “keeping short accounts” with God and others, the practice of it in my life was abysmal at best.


When faced with the overwhelming sense of my sin, taking the somber route of penance, I wallowed in guilt, unworthiness and despairing tears of the doomed. As if a specified sentence of gloomy sadness demonstrated adequate sorrow for my sin. After which I might freely approach God and repossess my happiness.


But a careful study of David’s repentance in Psalm 51 confronted my wayward view of repentance, suggesting repentance instead offers a way into Joy.


The origin of David’s well known psalm reflects the confession of his sin with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite after Nathan the Prophet confronts him.


Sitting with Psalm 51:1, for the first time I noticed David’s first plea to God was for mercy. And not only mercy, but abundant mercy rooted in God’s steadfast love. Swilling in self- imposed guilt; beseeching God for abundant mercy rarely leaves my lips.

But David understood the ramifications of sin, and the bitterness from within, rotting the bones. In Psalm 32:3 he reminds us of the wasting of sin left unconfessed.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.”


I know well the bitter sorrow of sin, the piercing of a guilt ridden conscience and the weight of God’s displeasure with me. But where I remained imprisoned, awaiting God’s favor upon me again, David acknowledged the severity of sin's sorrow and a fitting remorse.

For he knew the only atonement acceptable to God was a broken and contrite spirit, as expressed in Psalm 51:16-17:

“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it: you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”


David knew a heart and spirit broken in sorrow for sin would find forgiveness and cleansing with God. Yet astonishingly he goes even a step further, requesting he might once again know joy.

“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.”

Psalm 51:8

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

Psalm 51:12


These scandalous pleas pour forth from the mouth of one guilty of adultery and murder.


Which perfectly illustrates the treasure of repentance.


True, Biblical repentance as modeled by David, humbles me in brokenness and remorse, compelling me toward confession of sin to the God so deeply offended. While at the same time, requesting joy in my relationship with God again.


Like me, David desires forgiveness, cleansing, and a renewed spirit, yet he desires so much more. He has tasted the lavish love of God and asks reception as a beloved son, where I sit on the porch as an unworthy prodigal.


David, fully aware of his own unworthiness, bases his plea on the depth of God’s steadfast love.


But David goes deeper still. For he desires full reconciliation that he may rejoice, but also for the purpose of teaching sinners God’s way.

“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.”

Psalm 51:13


Viewing repentance as more than a personal renewal and reconciliation, David sees the cleansing, renewal and restored joy as flowing both upward and outward.

Upon receiving God’s unfathomable mercy, the joy and renewal flowing forth will compel others to repentance.


The doorway to joy, true repentance inspires more repentance, forging a deeper intimacy with God overflowing in a joyful repentance others can see.


This new year, I shun the unrepentance moving me further away from God and the broken repentance of self-imposed gloom. Instead, choosing the pursuit of God’s abundant mercy, confessing my sin with a contrite heart, and seeking a renewed spirit infused with a restored joy of fellowship with my loving Father.

Ultimately lived out in sharing the joyfulness of repentance and salvation found in Christ.

Find more encouragement and FREE Resources at Serenity in Suffering!

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  1. "Upon receiving God’s unfathomable mercy, the joy and renewal flowing forth will compel others to repentance." It is amazing to me how beautiful repentance is as it highlights the wonder of the forgiveness and mercy of God. It truly does draw others to seek God.

  2. "The doorway to joy, true repentance inspires more repentance, forging a deeper intimacy with God overflowing in a joyful repentance others can see." This is beautiful! ♥


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