Psalm 51

A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me
Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise.
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.


This is the fourth of David’s seven penitential Psalms {6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143}. This particular one is in reference to David adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. It is recorded in I Kings 15:5, “During his life time, king David did what pleased the LORD, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” [Obviously the murder was worse than the adultery] It is interesting to me that we find this entry in Matthew genealogy of Jesus…Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.

There is no question Uriah suffered the greatest injustice. Most men would prefer you take their wife over their life. You could give the wife back but you cannot give a life back once it is taken. The guilt that tormented David was the murder of Uriah.

I may not get beyond the introduction tonight because I am convinced that Bathsheba was complicit in this affair. There is no evidence that this was rape. I’ve heard preachers say, “Bathsheba was innocent because David was the king and he could not be denied.” That makes absolutely no sense. By nature, women are always ahead of men. Men don’t think–David saw, he wanted and took but he did not think. It was the spur of the moment, a spontaneous response for David. Women are thinkers {I am being nice}: they calculate, they plan; I will not say connive but I will say this– they know how to formulate a plan and then work the plan. They usually get what they want. Men are at a disadvantage and it shows.

When a woman baths in the nude on her back porch while your neighbor who just happens to be a man, is talking a walk on his penthouse roof which is clearly visible, it might be intentional. Men are visually stimulated and trust me, she stimulated David. If it had not been consensual, she would have hated David, right women? She would have loathed him which means she would never have let him known that he got her pregnant. You’ll never convince me that she went into his bed chamber without the intention of getting pregnant. Now David did commit the murder, but again, if Bathsheba was madly in love with Uriah, she would have despised David for murdering her husband. David acted out of lust; Bathsheba out of ambition. She wanted a son on the throne and she got it. So David does the dirty work, gets rid of Uriah and he takes the fall [blame]. But it takes two to tango.

One other introductory note before we get started. Most commentaries state that it was a year or more before Nathan confronted David. There is no doubt that David’s conscience was tormenting him but he may have thought that what he had done could be keep secret. If the preacher, everyone knows. The confrontation probably embarrassed David but it broke the ice and the confessions began to roll. WHEN IT COMES TO THEOLOGY: Psalm 51 is a masterpiece. Say whatever you like about David’s sin: God used this man in an incredible way.

One other thing: don’t despise David for his massive moral mistake {sin}. It could happen to you if you were in the same situation {power and opportunity}. Until these two converge, you have no really been tempted.

The First Thing I want To Address is THE BASIS OF OUR FORGIVENESS

I love the way the NLT translates verse one…Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion. Other translation use the word ‘according,’ the NASB reads, Be gracious to me, O God, according to your loving-kindness, according the greatness of Your compassion. Why does God forgive our Sin? It is because of who HE IS. He is merciful and compassionate. He is not only merciful and compassionate the word “Greatness” is throw in to modify his Mercy and Compassion. This same word is used in Genesis 16 when the Angel tells Hagar, “Do as I say and I will give you more descendants that you can count.” In other words, God Mercy and Compassion is INFINITE. It is so great that we humans can not measure it’s greatness.


Basically, there are three types of sin mentioned in Psalm 51 and three METHODS of forgiveness.

[1] Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins {Transgressions, literally}. A transgression is the violation of the law and is a willful act of rebellion. David knew that what he was doing was against God’s law and he did it anyway…this is transgression. {Wet paint, don’t touch} The remedy for willful acts of sin is to have them “blotted out.” This is an accounting word which means to erase. Wipe away, clean the slate.

[2] The second word for sin is in verse two is INIQUITY. This word means to bend or twist, to pervert or distort. Mankind has mastered the art of perverting the good things that God created: art/porn, music/rock, sex/a hundred different perversions. The remedy for INIQUITY is to be “Washed.” I don’t know about you but when I come in at night, I like a good shower. I’m usually so dirty I use my body wash twice. Even when my hands get dirty during the day, I feel a need to wash. Most of us want to be clean. Of course, we are cleaning the outside and Jesus can wash us from inside out.

[3] The third word for sin is sin. Like it’s NT counterpart, this word means to fall short or to miss the mark. The Remedy is purification or cleansing. This is not a washing of water, but a cleansing of the soul that comes with true confession.


[1] Sin is before us: David was able to recognize his sin and it was haunting him day and night. He had a guilty conscience. Some people are pathological, they have no conscience; others have seared their conscience by repeated rebellion. Thank God for conscience. I rejoice when God convicts me of sin. I am thrilled that He cares enough to speak to me about my sin. I begin everyday {practically} with my QT. I read two devotions, and one Psalm before I do anything else. Sometimes I have to pray as soon as I study my Psalm. I can’t remember a day, lately that God hasn’t convicted me of some sin. Yesterday devotions out of Proverbs was on ranting and I am a ranter. So when we sin, it is against our conscience and this keeps are sin before us. I don’t worry about those who confess sin: I worry about those who don’t.

[2] BUT as David says, Sin is primarily against God. God is the first to feel the brunt of our sin. He is the first to see it. We do our evil in His sight. He usually knows about our sin before we know. When we blatantly sin against God, and all sin is blatant to HIM, we offend His holy nature. Because He is holy and perfectly so, our sin offends Him most. Who took the brunt of our sins? Jesus. All of our sin first and foremast is against HIM.

[3] Sin, all sin has consequences. [Verse 4] What ever God says about our sin is final: whatever the consequences are, they are justified. Thank God David maned up, he didn’t whine about his punishment. He knew that God was just and blameless. DAVID DESERVED DEATH. He was given life but his sin caused the death of the innocent.


This is a good stopping place. We all deserve death and hell but Jesus died in our place. He suffered our hell and death. Our response should be eternal gratitude.


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