Psalms 51 – 100

by Mike Raiter

Day 1

Read Psalm 51

Sin has consequences. Few people understood it as well as King David. David's adultery with Bathsheba and his plot to kill her husband, Uriah, marked a turning point in his reign as king of Israel (see 2 Samuel 11-12). In the following chapters of 2 Samuel, we read of the rape of his daughter, Tamar, by David's son Amnon (chapter 13), and then the rebellion of another son, Absalom (chapters 14-19). Rebellion and war plagued the rest of David's reign. David's sin had consequences for his family and the whole nation. But the most serious consequence was how it affected his relationship with God. Fortunately, David confessed his sin after God used Nathan the prophet to confront him.

Forgiveness can only spring from God's grace, ″according to your great compassion″ (v. 1).

Psalm 51 is a wonderful model of a sinner's prayer. First, we hear David's confession (vv. 1-6). David understands that he can give God no reason why he should be forgiven. Forgiveness can only spring from God's grace, ″according to your great compassion″ (v. 1). David piles up words to describe the horror of what he has done, ″transgressions″, ″iniquity″, ″sin″, and ″evil″ (vv. 2-4).

Today, we often describe our sins as ″mistakes″ or ″an error of judgment″. David will not play this kind of word game with God to lessen the seriousness of his sin. He admits his sin and that God is right to judge him (v. 4). Finally, David admits that when he sinned, he was acting consistently with his sinful nature (v. 5).

Second, we hear David's desires. David longs to be washed and made clean (vv. 2, 7). He wants his guilt and sin taken away. More than that, he longs for a new heart (v. 10). He wants a heart that desires righteousness, not wickedness. Then ″the joy of your salvation″ will be restored to him (v. 12).

Finally, David promises to tell the world about all that God has done for him. He will teach other sinners God's ways, so they won't make the same mistakes he made (v. 13). Having experienced the wonder and joy of forgiveness, he will praise God in the presence of all the people (vv. 14-15).

Today, let us thank God for the wonderful gift of His Son, who died that we might be forgiven and begin every day thoroughly cleansed. And as we think about this wonderful psalm, let's also take a moment to confess our sins before God:

Almighty God, heavenly Father, we confess that we have failed You often in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Not only have we done wrong, but we have failed to do right. Lord, You alone can forgive sin. Because Jesus has died for us, have mercy on us and pardon our sins. Help us to serve You not only with our lips, but with our lives. Amen.


Think through:

Why does David confess to God, ″against you, you only, have I sinned″ (Psalm 51:4) when he's sinned against Uriah and his family? Compare Psalm 51:4 with Luke 15:18.

Are there particular sins that you've been hiding from God right now? How does this psalm teach us a right way to confess our sins?

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About Author

Mike Raiter is a preacher, preaching trainer and former Principal of the Melbourne School of Theology in Australia. He is now Director of the Centre for Biblical Preaching and the author of a number of books, including Stirrings of the Soul, which won the 2004 Australian Christian Book of the Year award.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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