Perhaps no Psalm (other than Ps. 23) is more identified with David than the 51st Psalm. Through this psalm, David cries out for grace (v. 1), and expresses contrition before God. When Samuel rebuked Saul, he explained that LORD was seeking "a man after His own heart" (1 Sam. 13:14). Although David's sin seems to express the very opposite, David's repentance reveals just that sort of man. King David comes to God with a "broken heart" (17) and asks for a "pure heart" (10). David demonstrates biblical repentance--his focus is Godward, his prayer flows from Scripture, and his words reveal a right view of God, man, and sin.
When David deals with sin, he confesses his sinful nature (5), his sinful state (3), and his sinful deeds (3, 9). He uses all the terms God used when He revealed Himself to Moses in Ex. 34:6-7--"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate the and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin." These three Hebrew words all appear in Psalm 51 because they express the full range of sin before God--sin that David acknowledges freely.
When David talks of himself, he takes personal responsibility for sin ("my transgressions," "my iniquity," "my sin" in vs. 1, 2, 3, 9), and determines to do whatever it takes to be clean (16). He confesses his sin before God, because ultimately every sin is against God (4).
When David focuses on God, he vindicates God's love and compassion (1), His justice (4), His truth (6), His all-seeing presence (9), His joy (12), and His righteousness (14). David's Judge is not merely a stern Lawgiver; rather, He is a gracious Savior (14) who desires praise (15) from His people and longs for joy in His people (12), so that they sing (14).
Genuine repentance always focuses on God, because His holiness has been sullied, His name has been shamed, and His love has been spurned. Genuine repentance calls sin what it is, hides nothing before God, and throws itself on God's mercy and grace. Genuine repentance takes personal responsibility, blaming no one else and seeing sin as a personal affront between the sinner and God alone. Genuine repentance comes expecting nothing but always leaves with joy, cleansing, and restoration, because God loves the repentant heart. Genuine repentance always restores the song.
- Why does David ask God to cleanse him "with hyssop"? What does this picture?
- What is the prerequisite to teaching sinners God's ways? What sacrifices does God actually require from His people when they sin?
- What are the benefits we should not forget?
- What does it mean when it says that God "made known His ways to Moses, his deeds to the children of Israel"?
- What does this psalm teach about God's forgiveness, compassion, and understanding toward humankind?
- David rejoices because God has given him victory over Rabbah. Why does God give to David such victories even though his sin is serious?
- Second Samuel records the birth of Solomon; what is the LORD's name for him, and what does it mean?
- Samuel and Chronicles record several victories for David. In his success, the chroniclers tell some amazing actions:
- David hamstrings all but 100 chariot horses. What is this practice and why does David do this?
- What does David take from Hadadezer, and what does he do with it?
- What happens when the Arameans (Syrians) come to Hadadezer's aid?
- How does the chronicler describe David's accomplishments?
Have you blown it? Has your sin come before you so that its stench fills your nostrils and its shame corrodes your heart? Repent! Repentance is the great joy-restorer. Come to God boldly, trusting in the blood of the Cross. Confess your sin thoroughly and honestly, holding nothing back before the One who "desires truth in the inner parts." Cry out to God for cleansing, and boldly rejoice when you sense the freedom of sin forgiven. Let praise fill your mouth as you realize that He is the God "Who forgives all your sins" (Ps. 103:3). Rejoice even today in total forgiveness from the God of all grace.