"Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
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, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities." Psalm 51:1-9
The background to this Psalm is the tragedy that is portrayed in 2 Samuel 11-12. David is involved in adultery, murder, deceit, and lies. When confronted by Nathan the prophet, David openly repents. The power of God’s word (through Nathan) is abundantly evident in this observed transformation in David’s life.
1. The appeal to the steadfast love and abundant mercy of Jehovah (v.1-2) Blot out (v.1) = to wipe away like the writing from a book
2. Personal confession (v.3-5) "The new perspective on his sin as self-assertion against God, opens up a new self knowledge. This crime, David now sees, was no freak event: it was in character an extreme expression of the warped creature he had always been and of the faulty stock he sprang from. Similarly, Isaiah saw his people’s corruption as well, when he caught sight of his own (Isaiah 6:5).” Derek Kidner, Psalms, Volume One
David is not excusing himself. He is squarely facing his sins. Note the five-fold use of “my” in verses 1-3. He sees his sin as inexcusable (He is in his own “hula hoop”- See ReEngage).
“You can’t grieve what your heart has not seen. You can’t confess what you have not grieved. You can’t repent of what you have not confessed. Only when your eyes have been opened to your need by an act of the grace of God will you then begin to confess and seek the face of the Savior. Conviction of sin is a moment of glorious rescue as we run to the cross.” Paul David Tripp
3. Restoration (v. 6-9)
1. Discuss the difference between the power of sin being broken as a compelling/overruling emotion and the ongoing progressive weakening of the presence of sin in the life of a believer, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. What do we mean when we say that sanctification is “being made holy in heart and conduct”?
3. How does the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12:7) in bringing forth God’s conviction and revelation to King David, represent the Word of God in our lives today (now that the Bible is complete)? (Hebrews 4:13)
4. What does “You can’t confess what you have not grieved” mean?
5. How is David’s acknowledgement of his sin commendable and God-honoring?
6. Why is Psalm 51:8 a verse that is glorious beyond imagination? What does the verse underscore?
7. For personal reflection: How is the Lord presently changing you by the convicting power of the Scripture (God’s spy in your bosom)?