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Weds 14 October - Psalm 51

Psalm 51

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Saviour,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

- - -

Meditation on Psalm 51

This is a very personal Psalm, between an individual and God.
It could be any one of us.

The background is found in 2 Samuel 11.  David hasn’t gone to war.

David sees Bathsheba, sleeps with her, gets her pregnant, sends for her husband, fails to cover-up what he has done, so he has Uriah killed.

No wonder we read, ‘the thing which David had done displeased the LORD.’

When Nathan, the prophet confronts David with what he has done, Nathan makes it clear “you are the man!”

As Nathan outlines God’s judgments to follow, David says, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

What a reply he got from Nathan - The LORD has taken away your sin.”

So, to our Psalm – David is appealing to God for forgiveness. He has no-one else to appeal to.

How often we have to come to God, asking for forgiveness.

David appeals to God 1

  • a God of mercy
  • a God of unfailing love
  • A God of compassion
  1. David appeals for God to act 2
  • blot out
  • wash away
  • cleanse me

David confesses his sin 3-6

  • he is deeply aware of what he has done – he is constantly reminded of it.
  • he is deeply aware that he has offended God.
  • he reminds himself that he was sinful, even before birth

David appeals again for God to act 7-9

  • “cleanse me” (Lit: “un-sin me”)
  • “wash me”
  • “assure me”
  • “hide your face”
  • “blot out…”

David cannot forget what he has done but he pleads with God for a total re-start.

David appeals to God for a new purity 10-12

He doesn’t ask God for a ‘patched-up job’. He asks for something new – “Create in me …”

  • there’s a hint of fear – “don’t cast me from your presence.”
  • there’s a hint of fear – “don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.”

He remembers what happened to Saul – ‘the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul.’ (1 Samuel 16:14)

He longs for the joy of salvation to be restored – cf. v.8  ‘let me hear joy and gladness.’

These verses are not a quick confession on a Sunday – this is the heart-cry of a servant of God pleading with God for deep cleansing and forgiveness.

Only then can David look forward to the future.

David looks forward to a life renewed in praise and service 13-17

THEN will I teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you.’

Here is a call to mission – that we will be cleansed vessels for God to use in bringing others to faith in Christ.

David wasn’t interested in meaningless sacrifices – nor is God!

He comes to recognise that he has nothing to bring. As do we, in the light of Calvary, admit that ‘nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your Cross I cling.’

David prays for the city 18-19

David longs for God’ blessing on Jerusalem so that sacrifices offered to God are genuine and acceptable to God and He is honoured and glorified.

We have a Saviour who prays for us – cf. Hebrews 7:25

And when we fall, as did Peter, we hear Jesus saying to us, as He said to Peter … “…I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

We’ve said it before – we’ll say it again: Hallelujah, what a Saviour.

(Roger Purdom)

Daily Readings

Thursday 15 October - Psalm 52

Friday 16 October - Psalm 53

Saturday 17 October - Psalm 54

Sunday 18 October - Psalm 55

Monday 19 October - Psalm 56

Tuesday 20 October - Psalm 57


New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Photo by Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash