The Heart of a Guilty Man

Psalm 51

This is the fourth, and perhaps greatest, of David’s seven penitent Psalms.
(6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143)

I. David’s Confession –Psalms 51:1-6

A. Lord, Be Merciful in my Need – vs. 1-4a
1. I am very sinful – vs. 1-2
  • Transgression – a high-handed revolt against divinely constituted law
  • Iniquity – the perverseness of our nature
  • Sin – a missing of the mark, a stumbling, a falling short
2. I am very sorry – vs. 3-4a
It seems as though David could not escape:
  • The ghost that haunted him – v.3 (Uriah the Hittite)
  • The guilt that horrified him – 4a
B. Lord, Be Mindful of my Nature – vs. 4b-6
Ps 103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
1. I was born in sin – vs, 4b-5
2. I am blinded by sin – v.6
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

II. David’s Cleansing – Psalms 51:7-12

David wanted to be forgiven and to acknowledge the awful consequences of sin in the life of a believer.
(He wanted to be free from)
A. Sin’s Defilement – v.7
“The hyssop, a common Palestinian herb, sprouted on walls. It was used as a sprinkler in various ceremonial cleansings of the leper.” – John Phillips (page 407)
B. Sin’s Deafness – v.8
His sin made him deaf to the voice of God, and deaf to all the sounds of joyful praise about him. There was no joy – no song in him now.
C. Sin’s Disgrace – v.9
We try to hide ourselves when we sin, but David knew that he could not hide from god. So he wanted God to hide from David’s hideous sin.
D. Sin’s Damage – v.10
  • Create = bara. Create ex nihilo (out of nothing). This is significant because David is not asking for a reformed heart – but a new heart. The old one was just too damaged.
E. Sin’s Doom – v.11
David had earned the punishment of total banishment. David had seen Saul when the Spirit of the Lord left him, only to be replaced by a troubling spirit. David feared that fate.
We do not have to pray this prayer, but we should pray that we not have God’s candlestick removed from our lives.
F. Sin’s Depression – v.12a
Sin causes depression. I understand that there can be other physiological and psychological causes which are beyond our control. But in this context, sin caused David’s despair and depression. If you have no song in your heart, and no praise on your lips, and no desire to come into God’s house with thanksgiving and praise – then you might have a sin problem as well.
G. Sin’s Defeat – v.12b
“and sustain me with a willing spirit” NASB
David desired for the Lord to keep him from committing, or even wanting to commit, such sin ever again.

III. David’s Consecration – Psalms 51:13-19

A. The Life He would not Forsake – vs. 13-15
1. He Would Continue to Preach – v.13
Psalm 32 is an example of David teaching others to flee from sin. David has been there and he knows what he is talking about!
2. He Would Continue to Praise – vs.14-15
Never again would the King hold his tongue. He was forgiven and freed from the bondage of sin. David wished to praise God like never before.
B. The Lessons He would not Forget – vs.16-19
Deuteronomy 17:12 left no sacrifice for David’s willful acts of sinful disobedience. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
  • David learned about Awful Guilt
  • David learned about Amazing Grace
David’s closing remarks make it clear that he knows that empty rituals are meaningless. True religion is a right relationship with God based upon faith. It means receiving the forgiveness of sins and partaking in imputed righteousness. This is possible only through the cross of Jesus Christ.
From: Phillips, John. Exploring The Psalms. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1988.
Marcus Merritt
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