“And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”
“Turn unto the Lord your God. Our fasting and weeping are worth nothing if we do not with them turn to God as our God. When we are fully convinced that it is our duty and interest to keep in with him, and are heartily sorry we have ever turned the back upon him, and thereupon, by a firm and fixed resolution, make his glory our end, his will our rule, and his favour our felicity, then we return to the Lord our God, and this we are all commanded and invited to do, and to do it quickly. What arguments are here used to persuade this people thus to turn to the Lord, and to turn to him with all their hearts. When the heart is rent for sin, and rent from it, then it is prepared to turn entirely to God, and to be devoted entirely to him, and he will have it all or none.
Now, to bring ourselves to this, let us consider, We are sure that he is, in general, a good God. We must turn to the Lord our God, not only because he has been just and righteous in punishing us for our sins, the fear of which should drive us to him, but because he is gracious and merciful, in receiving upon us our repentance, the hope of which should draw us to him. He is gracious and merciful, delights not in the death of sinners, but desires that they may turn and live. He is slow to anger against those that offend him, but of great kindness towards those that desire to please him. These very expressions are used in God’s proclamation of his name when he caused his goodness, and with it all his glory, to pass before Moses, Ex. 34:6, Ex. 34:7 . He repents him of the evil, not that he changes his mind, but, when the sinner’s mind is changed, God’s way towards him is changed; the sentence is reversed, and the curse of the law is taken off. Note, That is genuine, ingenuous, and evangelical repentance, which arises from a firm belief of the mercy of God, which we have sinned against, and yet are not in despair. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The goodness of God, if it be rightly understood, instead of emboldening us to go on in sin, will be the most powerful inducement to repentance, Ps. 130:4 . The act of indemnity brings those to God whom the act of attainder frightened from him.”
Matthew Henry’s Commentary