First of 15 (Psalm 51 to 65) consecutive psalms attributed to David in Book II.
One of the seven penitential Psalms (Ps 6,32,38,51,102,130,143).
It is David’s prayer of confession after Nathan the prophet confronted him with his sins (2 Sam 11-12)
Cleanse Me (1-7)
The law says who committed adultery should be put to death (Lev 20:10). David could appeal only to God’s mercy, grace, and love. (v1)
David acknowledge his sin (transgressions, iniquity, sin, v1-3)
David had sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba, but ultimately he sinned against God (v4).
David didn’t blame his sins on anyone else. He could have blame it on Bathsheba, or even God. But instead he acknowledge his sin is due to his sinful nature. He was sinful even in his mother’s stomach (v5).
Hyssop was used to sprinkle blood or water on people needing ceremonial cleansing. In Israel, leprosy or touching a dead body is considered unclean (Lev 14:6, Num 19:16-19). Today, it is the work of Christ on the cross that clean our sins. (v7)
Restore Me (8-12)
David’s sins had affected his whole person: mind (v3), inmost place (v6), ears and bones (v8), heart and spirit (v10), tongues (v14), lips and month (v15). The cost of sin is high.
David wanted his entire being to be restored so he could serve the Lord acceptably.
David was in extreme anguish (v8) because of his sin. It felt like his bones were crushed by God. Why by God? Maybe David was referring to the disciple from God regarding the death of his child, who die in few days after birth (2 Sam 12:18). He wanted to escape from the anguish condition and rejoice in the Lord, but he couldn’t do it by himself, and he didn’t know how. So he cried out to God.
David knew he couldn’t rejoice in the Lord without the forgiveness of God (v9).
David knew his heart was the source of his trouble, he was incapable of changing his own heart. So he plead to God to create a clean heart in him. (v10)
v11: A reference to Holy Spirit. People argue about Trinity and said that Holy Spirit was not mentioned in OT. In this verse, Holy Spirit is clearly mentioned. At this time, Holy Spirit was not indwell in believers heart like in NT. In OT, Holy Spirit would come into a person temporary to accomplish God’s work.
v12: After you became a believers of Christ, have you experience anguish from your sins and lost your joy of salvation you first experience when accepting Jesus as your savior? Our Lord will never leave us once we accepted Him. If we come before Him and repent of our sins (1 John 1:9), we would feel the joy of salvation again.
Use Me (13-19)
v13: David knew first hand how much damage to a person relationship with God when the person sins. If God restore his joy in the Lord, he promise God he will teach sinners the ways of God.
David was a King, he could afford to make many animal sacrifices, however none of that could cleanse his sin. God couldn’t accept broken animal sacrifice, but God delights in a broken spirit, a contrite heart. (v17). Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3).
v18: David suddenly turned the focus to Zion. In his own personal struggle and pleading with God, he thought about God’s city, God’s people. He asked God to make Zion prosper, and build up the walls of Jerusalem. David knew his sins would affect God’s people. The enemies cloud attack when Jerusalem is vulnerable. Our personal sins could affect other people, could affect God’s church. Let’s pray to God to build up strong walls in our churches, to protect us from the enemy. Oh God, make your Church prosper, help us to build strongs walls so that we could offer righteous sacrifices on Your altar that are pleasing to You!