The paradox of unworthy belonging

The paradox of unworthy belonging

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love. – Psalms 51:1

Psalms 51:1-7

 1 A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

 4 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.

 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

The Shame Resilience Theory (SRT) was developed by Dr. Brene Brown. She discussed it in her book, I Thought It Was Just Me (but it is not): making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough.”

Dr. Brown writes, “shame is the intensely painful feelings or experiences of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging . . . Shame creates feelings of fear, blame, and disconnect.”

According to Dr. Brown, there are four elements of Shame Resilience:

  • Recognizing shame and understanding our triggers.
  • Practicing critical awareness.
  • Reaching out and telling our story.
  • Speaking shame is critically important because it’s survival depends upon remaining undetected (through secrecy and silence) (Brown).

When we practice these four elements, we can strengthen and expand our Shame Resilience. When people do not understand and acknowledge their shame and the expectations and messages that trigger it they employ defense mechanisms for self-protection: fight, flight, or freeze.

David had mastered the art of Shame Resilience. He understood the amazing paradox of unworthy belonging. He successfully survived the revelation and consequences of his secret sins centered around his moral failures with Bathsheba.

He admitted his guilt and shame and acknowledged his utter unworthiness. He was shaken to his core. His response was to request mercy from the only one who could provide it, the Father. Although he knew that he was undeserving, David had absolute confidence that he still belonged. He belonged to the Father God who loved him dearly.

Psalms 51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.

Two magnificent words are found in Psalm 51 that are the key for children of the King to grow and strengthen their Shame Resilience: mercy and compassion.

The Hebrew word translated mercy is chanan. Chanan has the sense of showing kindness, graciousness, pity, to be considerate. It is often translated be merciful, show mercy, be gracious. Mercy is all about not getting what you deserve.

The Hebrew word translated compassion is racham. Racham is most frequently translated as compassion or mercy. It involves a deep awareness of and sympathy for the suffering of another. “The word carries a sense of intense emotion, of deep-seated feelings, which one has for a person who is especially near and dear” (UBS). It connotes deep heartfelt feelings of love and empathy.

Based upon the Father’s essence, His core character and nature of compassion and loyal love, David beseeches the Father, he begs Him for mercy and kindness.


Children of the King are the beneficiaries of an amazing and remarkable paradox. Because of their sin, they have no worthiness within themselves. Yet because of the Father’s great loyal love, they still belong!

Father, thank You for Your unconditional love which provides forgiveness and Reconciliation that I could never earn or deserve. Thank You that I belong to You.


David knows that he is in a family relationship, he is part of the Father’s forever family. He has a personal covenant with the Father which is binding. When our culture was more stable, it would be similar to a marriage covenant which was intended to last unto death.

Because of the Father’s quality of persistent, loyal love, and fidelity, He extends loyalty, kindness, forgiveness, and reconciliation to all His children. It persists through thick and thin. He will never let us go or turn away from us because of the foibles of our human limitations and weakness.

Psalm 51 models how we are to pray for the forgiveness of sin. David in transparent honesty and authenticity, confesses his sins and pours his heart out to the Father. He appeals to him on the basis of who the Father is. Recognizing his own unworthiness, he confidently asks for forgiveness.

“David appealed to the Lord to cleanse him because of His loyal love and compassion. He knew he did not deserve the Lord’s forgiveness nor could he earn it. Divine pardon comes to sinners by His grace alone. He asked God to blot out the record of his transgressions, namely sins that go beyond the limits that God has established for conduct” (Constable).

The Father loves us so much that He provided the sacrifice of His dearly beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is free to provide forgiveness and reconciliation because of His Son’s death in in our place.

The Father loves to forgive!

Each child of the King has experienced times when we are overwhelmed by guilt for something we have done. But at such moments, we confidently cling the fact of the Father’s unending mercy and unfailing love. Because the Lord Jesus Christ died on our behalf, we can be cleansed and become, “whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). We know we do not deserve His mercy, but we can unequivocally depend on the Father’s unfailing love and compassion.

Comments, Suggestions, Requests are sought and welcome.



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