The Psalms

Psalm 51

David prays for remission of sins, whereof he makes a deep confession, 1-5. He prays for sanctification, 6-15. God does not delight in sacrifice, but in sincerity, 16, 17. He prays for the church, 18, 19.

1 [To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David: when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bath-sheba.]

Have mercy upon me, O God,/
according to your loving-kindness./
According to the multitude of your tender mercies,/
blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity/
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,/
and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, I have sinned/
and done this evil in your sight,/
so that you may be justified when you speak/
and clear when you judge.

Behold, I was shaped in iniquity,/
and in sin my mother conceived me.

Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts./
And in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean./
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness/
so that the bones which you have broken may 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 right 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 uphold me with your free spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,/
and sinners shall be converted to you.

14 Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God,/
God of my salvation,/
and my tongue shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips/
and my mouth shall show forth your praise.

16 For you do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it./
You do not delight in burnt-offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit./
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good in your good pleasure to Zion./
Build the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then you shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,/
with burnt-offering and whole burnt-offering./
Then they shall offer bulls upon your altar.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Psalms, Chapter 51[➚]


John Calvin's Chapter Summary:

We learn the cause which led to the composition of this psalm from the title appended to it, and which will immediately come under our consideration. For a long period after his melancholy fall, David would seem to have sunk into a spiritual lethargy; but when roused from it by the expostulation of Nathan, he was filled with self-loathing and humiliation in the sight of God, and was anxious both to testify his repentance to all around him, and leave some lasting proof of it to posterity. In the commencement of the psalm, having his eyes directed to the heinousness of his guilt, he encourages himself to hope for pardon by considering the infinite mercy of God. This he extols in high terms, and with a variety of expressions, as one who felt that he deserved multiplied condemnation. In the after part of the psalm, he prays for restoration to the favor of God, being conscious that he deserved to have been cast off for ever, and deprived of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He promises, should forgiveness be bestowed upon him, to retain a deep and grateful sense of it. Towards the conclusion, he declares it to be for the good of the Church that God should grant his request; and, indeed, when the peculiar manner in which God had deposited his covenant of grace with David is considered, it could not but be felt that the common hope of the salvation of all must have been shaken on the supposition of his final rejection.

[v.4] - Quoted in Romans 3:4.

[v.17] - Reference, Isaiah 57:15.