Verse 1 – In the Old Testament era, there was a close connection between repentance and mourning. Just as mourners wore sackcloth and put dust on their heads when someone died, so did those who mourned their sins and their spiritual conditions.
Verses 2, 3 – The Hebrews practiced open confession (verse 8:18). Honest confession should come before worshiping God. When we do this, we worship with a clear conscious–not condemnation.
Verses 9-38 – Many of the prayers and speeches in the Bible included a long summary of Israels history because individuals did not have their own copies of scripture. This summary reminded the people of God’s faithfulness of His promises.
Verses 16-21 – Seeing how God continued to be with His people, shows that His patience is amazing. In spite of our own failings, pride, and stubbornness, He is always ready to forgive. Realizing how much God is willing to forgive us, should make it easier to forgive others of their trespasses. We forgive because we are forgiven.
Verses 28-31 – Israel was always devastated in times of rebellion and sin. Yet when the people repented and returned to God, He delivered them. God’s mercy is abundant and when we come to Him to ask for help in areas of our lives, we should do so with a humble heart.
Verse 35 – Sometimes the answered prayer or blessing that God gives us, makes us forget Him (verse 9:28). We are often tempted to rely on self-effort such as getting wealth and security rather than God. Just as a crisis should draw us even closer to God, so should His blessings on our life.
Verse 36 – How sad that God had given the Israelites the land they were living in, but now had to turn part of their resources and prosperity over to a foreign king. The land belonged and still does to this day, to Israel!
Verse 38 – The people once again, agreed to take their responsibility seriously to follow God and keep His laws.