Read: Psalm 51:1, 19; 2 Samuel 11, 12; Romans 5:20
The incident in David’s life which led to him writing this Psalm was the sin of adultery he committed with Bathsheba, and the subsequent murder of her husband. The basis for asking for forgiveness of sin from God is not any worthiness on man’s part, but on the lovingkindness of God and the sacrifice for sin which He has provided in Christ.
Think About It: David had a tremendous record of service to God which he could have referred to, but he did not do so. Do I understand that I can’t earn God’s favor, that forgiveness is a matter of His mercy, not my merit? Is God’s mercy great enough to pardon my sin?
Prayer: Thank God for his compassion and mercy.
Read: Psalm 51:3; 2 Samuel 12:13
David recognized that he had sinned and acknowledged the seriousness of his actions.
Think About It: Am I willing to call my wrong actions “sin”? Do I recognize the temptation to trivialize the seriousness of my wrongdoing?
Prayer: For the wisdom to take sin seriously and to recognize the magnitude of its consequences.
Read: Psalm 51:4; Luke 15:18; 1 Corinthians 8:12
David committed adultery and murder, sins which affected others profoundly, yet he states that his sin was only against God. David was speaking with what is called “Semitic hyperbole,” the Hebrew practice of intentional exaggeration in order to make a point. David knew that his victim Uriah, his partner in crime Joab, and Bathsheba, were all affected by his sin, but he recognized that above all he had sinned against God. David accepted God’s definition of sin. The standards of his time would have excused him; God did not.
Think About It: Am I willing to accept God’s definition of what is morally right and wrong? Have I attempted to redefine God’s definition of morality in any way?
Prayer: For the moral courage to face up to God’s definition of sin.
Read: Psalm 51: 5; Job 5:7; Psalm 58:3; Romans 5:12 – 19: Ephesians 2:3
David recognized not only his sin, but his inherent sinfulness.
Think About It: Do I think of myself as “basically a good person” for whom wrong actions are only a temporary aberration? Or do I recognize that apart from the grace of God, sin is inevitable for me? Do I appreciate the profound implications of this question?
Prayer: Thank God for His grace and provision of salvation, which I have done nothing to merit.
Read: Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57:15, 66:2
In Psalm 51:17 David described the attitude of repentance that is well regarded by God.
Think About It: What is the difference between a “broken” and “unbroken” horse? What is the difference between a “broken” and “unbroken” spirit? What kind of heart am I offering to God?
Prayer: For a heart tender enough to be broken and contrite when I sin.
Read: Psalm 51:2, 7 – 12; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 4:30; 2 Corinthians 3:17
Repentance involves asking God for everything we need to deal with the consequences of our sin. The Hebrew verb “bara,” translated “create” in v. 10, is used only in conjunction with God in the Old Testament. Only God can create a clean heart and repair us from the damage of sin; only God can restore to us the joy of our salvation.
Think About It: What consequences of past sins have continued to trouble me? Have I asked God’s help?
Prayer: For God’s help in dealing with the consequences of sin; for a clean, newly created heart; for the joy of my salvation.
Read: Psalm 51:13-14; Luke 22:32; Acts 9:21 – 22
David wanted his experience of repentance, forgiveness and restoration to become a redemptive pattern for other sinners.
Think About It: How can I share the story of God’s forgiveness and restoration in my life so that others will be encouraged to repent and trust in God’s grace made available in Christ?
Prayer: For the humility and courage to share my story of forgiveness and redemption.