Psalm 51

psalm 51


Chapter 51

This psalm of David is one of the richest theological portions of the OT which teaches us about God, humanity, sin, and salvation. The experience of David in this psalm brings us close to the NT concept of heart holiness. Psalm 51 consists of an appeal, a confession of sin and its nature, a plea for restoration, a promise of worship, and a prayer for the nation


1-2-A sinners only hope for mercy grows out of God’s distinctive characteristics of loving-kindness and tender-mercies. Three terms that are used here cover the OT understanding of sin: Transgression or rebellion, iniquity or crookedness, and sin or the failure to reach a prescribed standard. The intensity of David’s appeal is seen in the imperatives blot out, wash thoroughly, and cleanse. David was not content with a superficial treatment he wanted a spiritual overhaul


3-Confession to God brings forgiveness


4-Here David recognizes the nature and the seriousness of his sin. Sin is rebellion against God’s rules for human life. At times other people suffer consequences from our sin, but we must understand that when we sin it is God who we are rebelling against


5-Refusal to do what is right is a part of the human character from birth. David describes his conception of sin this way: the sin problem is in us at birth


6-David also understands that sin is primarily a matter of attitude and that sin must be dealt with before the problem of wrong action can be resolved


7-The hyssop branch was used to sprinkle blood on the doorways of the Israelites home in Egypt to prevent death by the destroyer. The hyssop branch was also used in the same manner to pronounce that a leper was clean


8-The expression bones being broken is a reflection of the pain of knowing that sin has come between us and God


9-10Here we see the two fold nature of sin illustrated in the acts of transgression that call for forgiveness and a deeper sinfulness that requires cleansing. Created is translated from a Hebrew word used only for divine activity in the OT. It speaks of making something completely new. These verses reveal David’s understanding that the sin problem calls for radical surgery, not cosmetic, clean heart in the OT symbolizes the affections and the will which includes the decision-making powers. David recognizes that God alone can deliver these elements to the human personality from their naturally defiled condition; the Holy Spirit is the means by which the human sprit is cleansed and is enabled to live the holy life


11-12-This in not a prayer of an unregenerate person for salvation, it is rather a prayer of a regenerated person to have a holy heart, this chapter along with Isaiah 63:10-11 are the only places in the OT where God’s Spirit is referred to by the term Holy Spirit


13-15-When God cleanses the heart through the Holy Spirit the most immediate response are those of praise and witness


16-19-Outward worship such as OT sacrifice is pleasing to God only when it is expresses the inward spiritual conditions of a broken spirit and a contrite heart, formal worship in the absence of these conditions accomplishes nothing, however if it is offered as a result of them God is pleased. David recognized that his sin injured not just himself but also his city and nation as well. David therefore asked God to deal with the broader damage that resulted from his sin.

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