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Psalms - A Prayer for Forgiveness

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A Prayer for Forgiveness


Text: Psalm 51


Thesis: To note the sorrow that should be felt by each Christian as he/she sins.




(1)    Jesus told us, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5.4).

(2)    In Psalm 51, we see an illustration of one who mourns over his sin.

(a)     This psalm is believed to have been penned through inspiration by David.

(b)    If so, then the occasion for writing is believed to have been his affair with Bathsheba and the events surrounding that occasion.

(1)    David lusted over Bathsheba and fulfilled that lust through an affair with her.

(2)    Through guilt, he had Uriah the Hittite put on a suicide mission to cover up the sin.

(3)    The plan did not work as Nathan the prophet related a parable of the ewe lamb in order to show David that he was the man who had wronged.

(4)    David repented and still was not fully exempted from all consequences of his sin as his son died.

(5)    David’s heart was broken as he realized that he had broken the very heart of God.

(3)    We shall look at 3 main points in this prayer for forgiveness:




I.                   His Confession (vv. 1-6):

A.    His realizes that he is approaching a merciful God and appeals to God’s love (v. 1).

1.      This makes it easier to confess his sins.

2.      Remember what it was like to confess your wrong doings to your parents.

B.     Therefore, he expresses his broken heart over what he has done (vv. 2-6).

1.      He acknowledges his sin (v. 3).

a.       We must not deny our sins (1 John 1.6, 8, 10).

b.      We cannot hide our sins (Num. 32.23).

2.      He realizes that sin is committed against God (v. 4).

3.      He, in the deeps of his sorrow, feels as though he has been acting this way all of his life (v. 5).

a.       This verse does not teach inherited sin because that is taught against elsewhere throughout the Bible (e.g., Ezek. 18.20).

b.      Some translations take too much liberty here as translate this verse such as “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

c.       Some people have explained this verse as teaching:

(1)    David’s mother brought David into a sinful world.

(2)    David’s lineage was scared through Judah’s adulterous relationship with Tamar (Gen. 38.13-20).  The descendants from this relationship would suffer consequences of this sin until the tenth generation (Deut. 23.2).  David was of the 10th generation and was able to go into God’s house.

d.      I believe that the verse is simple an example of hyperbole where David expresses that he feels as though he had been sinning all of his life.

e.       Keep in mind that we are reading poetry and one would have poetic license.

4.      He understands that God desires “inward sincerity and not just an outward conformity to formal religious ordinances” (Taylor 56).

II.                His Desire (vv. 7-12):

A.    He prays for pardon (vv. 7-9).

1.      “He prays that the Lord, like a priest, may cleanse him from his defilement” (VanGemeren 381).

2.      He had “been crushed by his sin as though his bones were broken” (Taylor 57).

3.      He wants to be made as white as snow.

B.     He asks for a new heart (vv. 10-12).

1.      “David’s heart had been soiled in sin […] Now David yearns for the Lord to give him a clean, purified heart, a spirit made right by precious pardon” (Taylor 57).

2.      He wanted again to have the joy that comes with salvation.

a.       “The joy is more than an emotional expression; it is contended resting with God” (VanGemeren 382).

b.      “David missed this joy and sought whatever means that could restore it to him” (Garner 318 in The Book of Psalms Vol. 1).

III.             His Rejoicing (vv. 13-19):

A.    He rejoices over the fact that God will forgive him.

B.     Therefore, David will tell others of God’s forgiveness (v. 13).

C.     He will sing of God’s righteousness (vv. 14-15).

D.    He will tell others what it truly takes to be forgiven (vv. 16-17).

E.     He prays for a national restoration (vv. 18-19).



(1)    We, like David, may leave here today singing redemption’s song.

(2)    Do you, like David, need to confess your sins before God today?  If so, be assured that the same God who forgave God can and will forgive you (1 John 1.9)!

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