“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”
Do you remember King David’s reaction to the prophet Nathan when he finally experiences the guilt of his sin with Bathsheba? David committed horrible acts in order to fulfill his desire and infatuation with this woman – even murder. God didn’t let it go unpunished. David was confronted by Nathan who told him a story about a rich man who takes what is dearest to his poor neighbor in order to feed a traveling visitor to his home. David was outraged and demanded to know who this despicable man was. Imagine his feelings and response when Nathan tells him it He is that despicable man. David, when confronted with his guilt, was broken. His spirit was contrite and God forgave him.
The context of our passage in Isaiah is a withering condemnation, by God, of those who fake their faith in God while following their own desires and the gods that represent them. It is harsh, to say the least, and God makes it clear that those fraudulent believers will get what’s coming to them. At the same time, Isaiah 66 provides a beautiful picture for those true believers who endure the scoffing of the enemies that live within the very walls of their sanctuary. They will be comforted and “dandled” on the knees of God. “Dandling” refers to a parent that playfully bounces their child on their knees. You’ve seen it before; you’ve probably done it yourself with your children. What a beautiful picture as God brings about smiles and laughter from His people like the happy and loved children they are. Who are these happy and loved children? Who are these true believers? They are “those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at [God’s] word.”
Contrition refers to a brokenness of the heart. The picture is one of a heart smashed to pieces as it realizes its guilt when confronted with its sin. In Isaiah 66, God draws the comparison between the fakers and the real believers. The difference is their reaction to their sin – fakers keep faking and the believers are broken by the horror that they have wronged the God who loves them so. Which one are you? Do you care about the sin in your life? Do you go on each day as if it’s no big deal or does it offend your very spirit when you discover your guilt? There are many fakers in the Church – have you looked at your heart lately?
As you pray today, ask God to help you deal with the sin in your life. Is your heart hard and unconcerned about sin or is it broken when confronted with an offense? God wants Christians who are as concerned about sin as He is. He loves those who are humble and contrite in spirit and He wants to look upon you with favor. If you are confronted with the reality that your heart is not contrite in response to your sin, do not panic. It’s not too late for contrition.