For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
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 Savior,
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 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.
What Kind of Literature is this? Poetry. Psalms are prayers and songs.
What did it mean when it was written? This Psalm refers to the events in 2 Samuel 11-12. It is David song of repentance when he faced his sins and their impact.
Who am I in the story? I am David. I am the one who has sinned and who must face the reality of my sin.
Where is God in this story? God is the one against whom I have sinned (51:4); the only one who can cleanse me (51:7); the only one who can create a new decision maker (heart) for me (51:10); and the only one who can restore my joy in life (51:12).
Why is this in the Bible? This Psalm shows me the seriousness of sin and my total dependence on God to forgive me and change my destiny. It also tells me that famous leaders like David don’t get a pass on sin.
What is God saying to me? God is saying to me I need to face my sin and more completely understand the process of forgiveness. This means acknowledging sin, asking for cleansing, asking for help in making better decisions, and asking for the restoration of joy.