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Psalm 51

When you are confronted with sin, how do you respond?  David was, “A man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).  He wrote almost half of the Psalms.  With God’s help, he defeated Goliath (1 Samuel 17) and was king over Judah and Israel over forty years (2 Samuel 5:4-5).  1 Kings 15:5 sums up David’s life, “For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.”  Oh, how the mighty fall hard!  2 Samuel 11 tells us Uriah the Hittite was the husband of Bathsheba, with whom David committed adultery.  David would have Uriah killed in battle.  David was probably in his mid-forties when this happened and for several months, he refused to repent.  When he was confronted of his sin by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12), David said to him, “’I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die’” (2 Samuel 12:13).  In David’s repentance, he wrote Psalm 51 asking the Lord to forgive and cleanse (vv. 1-7), restore (vv. 8-12), and use him once again (vv. 13-19).

David cried out, “Have mercy on me, Oh God”.  This should be our heart’s cry in repentance.  While David sinned against many people in his adultery and murder, he ultimately sinned against a holy God.  He recognized this by saying, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (v. 4).  The first step in repentance is acknowledging your sin before a holy God.  He was so burdened by this sin that he could not forget it (v. 3).  David wanted God to blot it out (v. 1) and wash and cleanse him (v. 2, 7).  He knew he, like us, had been sinful from birth (vv. 5-6).  Sin is deceptive, offering satisfaction for a fleeting season (Hebrews 11:25).  David desired the purity, cleansing, and forgiveness once again that only God could give.

David wanted his joy back because sin had robbed him of his gladness (v. 8).  This could happen only if God blotted out his sin (v. 9).  David, and everybody else, knew he committed adultery and murder, both outward expressions of sin.  But David knew it was more than an external problem.  He needed God to renew and create in him a pure heart (v. 10).  Sin is always a heart problem and unless the heart is addressed, no boundary, self-determination, or behavior modification will last.  More than anything, David desired God’s presence once again (v. 11), something sin separates us from (Isaiah 59:2).  David lusted for Bathsheba for temporary pleasure, but he longed for God for eternal joy only found in salvation (v. 12).

David desired to share with other’s God’s restorative compassion, love, and joy.  He wanted to return to teaching people about God and helping bring others to the Lord (v. 13).  When we are in sin, we desire selfish worldly things.  When repentance comes, Godly mission comes back as well.  David wanted to sing in worship once again to the Lord (v. 14-15), something he had done from his youth.  Unrepentant sin blocks our ability to truly worship the Lord.  David didn’t want to just go through religious motions of sacrificing animals (v. 16), he wanted to be broken as a living sacrifice for the Lord (Romans 12:1-2).  God does not reject a brokenness and repentance, but He does reject false humility and religiosity (James 4:10).  When we sin, going to church, giving offerings, and doing good things will never get us back close to the Lord.  Only repentance does that.  Religious actions rooted in pretending sin never happened will only drive you further from the Lord.  David knew he had to get his heart right before the Lord or none of his future worship actions would be acceptable to the Lord (vv. 18-19). 


  1. Are you covering up your sins with false humility and religious motions?
  2. Have you allowed the Lord to work on your heart?
  3. It took David nearly a year to come to repentance.  How long will you wait?


Lord, help me repent of my sins instantly and not wait.  I need your forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration.  Thank You for drawing me back to You when I go away in sin.  Cleanse my heart and make it pure so I do not return to my evil ways.  I choose You over sin!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.

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