When we want to study the best way to repent during Lent, we can look to King David— he was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). In other words, his heart resembled his Heavenly Father’s heart. After the rebellion of King Saul (1 Samuel 13:14), God sought and found, “A man after my own heart, such a one as I would have, one on whom the image of God is stamped, and therefore one in whom God is well pleased and whom he approves” (Biblegateway.com Resources, for Acts 13:22).
And yet, he still ended up in the middle of a great big mess. The Prophet Nathan recapped it all for David:
Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
My favorite part of this story is David’s response to Nathan’s rebuke.
- We know that he was immediately humbled, because his first response is short and to the point, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13, ESV).
- But we also know that he deeply humbled. He was contrite (profoundly affected by his feelings of remorse and guilt). We know he was contrite, because he says so in Psalm 51, which he wrote as a prayer of confession:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
Our prayer, as we repent during Lent
Lord, make us like Your servant David, who was a man after Your own heart. Help us, when we sin to be immediately and deeply humbled and to repent.
Lent is a season of self-examination and repentance. Most of our sins aren’t as far-reaching as David’s were, but God calls us to respond in the same way, to repent, or to “turn back to God.” Right away. Genuinely. Every time.