Our view of God, our view of our own sinfulness (or our own
righteousness), and our view of the sinfulness of others all have an effect on
how and when we repent.

David had a great
view of God’s mercy and unfailing love and a great view of his own sin.

“Have mercy on me, O
God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot
out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me, against you, you
only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved
right when you speak and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:1-4).

A simple parable presented by Nathan, the prophet, broke David
into repentance.

Job had a great view
of his own righteousness and a great view of God’s injustice to him.

“As surely as God
lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste
bitterness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my
nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no
deceit. I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my
integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my
conscience will not reproach me as long as I live” (Job 27:2-6).

Elihu spoke to Job
for five chapters and God for four chapters before Job broke down in

“My ears had heard of
you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in
dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

Jonah had a great
view of God’s graciousness and love and his own hatred for the Assyrians, the

“But Jonah was greatly
displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is this not what I
said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and
abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take
away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live’” (Jonah 4:1-4).

Job did not want God to forgive Nineveh. There is no clue in
the text that Jonah ever repented, though God continued to reach out to Jonah.
(We can assume that Jonah repented, however, because presumably he wrote the
book of Jonah.)

We know of people who think they are too bad to be forgiven;
others who think they are too good and do not need forgiveness; and others who
think others are going to hell and should not be forgiven.

“But where sin
increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20).