1 God, have mercy on me according to your faithful love. Because your love is so tender and kind, wipe out my lawless acts. 2 Wash away all the evil things I’ve done. Make me pure from my sin. 3 I know the lawless acts I’ve committed. I can’t forget my sin. 4 You are the one I’ve really sinned against. I’ve done what is evil in your sight. So you are right when you sentence me. You are fair when you judge me. 5 I know I’ve been a sinner ever since I was born. I’ve been a sinner ever since my mother became pregnant with me. 6 I know that you wanted faithfulness even when I was in my mother’s body. You taught me wisdom in that secret place. 7 Sprinkle me with hyssop, then I will be clean. Wash me, then I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear you say, “Your sins are forgiven.” That will bring me joy and gladness. Let the body you have broken be glad. 9 Take away all my sins. Wipe away all the evil things I’ve done. 10 God, create a pure heart in me. Give me a new spirit that is faithful to you. 11 Don’t send me away from you. Don’t take your Holy Spirit away from me. 12 Give me back the joy that comes from being saved by you. Give me a spirit that obeys you so that I will keep going. 13 Then I will teach your ways to those who commit lawless acts. And sinners will turn back to you. 14 You are the God who saves me. I have committed murder. God, take away my guilt. Then my tongue will sing about how right you are no matter what you do. 15 Lord, open my lips so that I can speak. Then my mouth will praise you. 16 You don’t take delight in sacrifice. If you did, I would bring it. You don’t take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The greatest sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. God, you will gladly accept a heart that is broken because of sadness over sin. 18 May you be pleased to give Zion success. May it please you to build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of those who do what is right. Whole burnt offerings will bring delight to you. And bulls will be offered on your altar.
Psalm 51 was written by King David after he was challenged by the prophet Nathan over his terrible and most well-known sins – setting up the death of Bathsheba’s husband to cover up the fact that David had committed adultery with her.
It’s worth noting that David had been able to cover up and live with these very serious acts for some months before Nathan confronted him and helped bring him to repentance. But when David does finally open his eyes to see his own wickedness, his repentance and sorrow is deep.
King David was described as a man after God’s own heart, so this episode reinforces principles found in other places in the bible. Take care if you think you are above sins such as this. Every human heart is deceitful and capable of wickedness. No one is beyond temptation and we daily need the grace of God to stand.
I admire David’s humble repentant heart, but what is most challenging to me is his willingness to openly confess his sins here.
How often do I try to repent in secret and hide my faults so others don’t find out about them? David seems to genuinely only be concerned about what God thinks of him, not what others will think, and that is a place of humility and honesty that I want to get to.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God”.
Written by Shelley Witt