For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner — yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me — now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit — with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
~ Psalm 51 (NLT)
I’m in the middle of reading The Five Languages of Apology by Dr. Gary Chapman. It’s an interesting read in some respects. In other respects I think it omits the full impact and importance of repentance. The book suggests that apology is the ultimate communication to restore a relationship. I think that’s misleading and have become increasingly dissatisfied the further I get in the book.
In the jargon of the book, the five “languages” of apology are (1) expressing regret; (2) accepting responsibility; (3) making restitution; (4) genuinely repenting; and (5) requesting forgiveness.
According to the Bible, repentance is the ultimate communication leading to forgiveness and resulting in a restored relationship. Repentance consists of (1) acknowledging your sin; (2) accepting responsibility without defending yourself; (3) understanding the severity and repercussions for what you have done; (4) humbling yourself and requesting forgiveness; (5) knowing that mercy and grace are not deserved; (6) expressing a sincere desire and intention to change your ways (7) doing what you need to do to restore the relationship. [in no particular order]
Psalm 51 is an excellent example of David’s true repentance for a very specific sin against God. It’s an amazing declaration of his love and devotion to God, as well as an expression of his desire to be cleansed and live as a righteous man. It’s an example of how we should seek to heal and restore our human relationships.
Repentance is so much more than an apology. It’s completely turning away from the course you are on and committing yourself to God’s ways (or in human relational language: committing yourself fully to the relationship you are seeking to restore). Repentance is not something that works by picking and choosing elements that suit you – as The Five Languages of Apology suggests.