Psalm Fifty One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Have mercy upon me. Psalm 51 tells of David's repentance, confession and plea for cleansing following Nathan's rebuke after his sin with respect to Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 12:1-15). Psalm 32 tells of his joy after God forgave him (Psalm 51:12).

Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

have I sinned. There is no sin that injures only the sinner, and/or those he has wronged, for all sin is against God's holy purpose for one's life. David had certainly sinned against both Bathsheba and Uriah, but it was even a greater sin against God. This sin had “given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14).

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

conceive. There is no sin in the act of conception itself when carried out in the bond of marriage (Hebrews 13:4). This testimony refers rather to “original sin,” the sin-nature inherited from Adam and Eve.

Psalm 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

hyssop. Hyssop was a small shrub used to sprinkle blood and water over the cleansed leper, symbolizing his purification and cleansing (Leviticus 14:4-7).

Psalm 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Psalm 51:9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Create in me. Only God can create, including the great miracle of regeneration, which is truly a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Psalm 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

thy holy spirit. Since the death and resurrection of Christ, He has promised that the Holy Spirit will indwell His believing disciples forever (John 14:16-17). Before Christ, the Holy Spirit would come upon individuals for specific empowerment for service and could as easily leave, as in the case of Saul (1 Samuel 11:6; 16:14). David earnestly prayed that this would not happen also to him.

Psalm 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Restore unto me. Once a believer has truly been saved, either before or after Christ, he can never become unsaved (John 10:28; Romans 8:35; etc.). However, through overt sin, a believer may lose the joy of his salvation.

Psalm 51:13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Psalm 51:14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

Psalm 51:15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Psalm 51:16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

Psalm 51:19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.