Psalm 51 Commentary

Psalm 51 Commentary

First is the Book of Second Samuel chapter 11. David has sinned and he has tried everything possible to cover up his sin. Then the prophet Nathan shows up. We know David’s many big sins leading up to this point. We also know the prophet’s message to David. But what impact did God’s word have on David? We have this great psalm for the details.

Repentance. It all started with an acknowledgment of his sins. David called them sins, transgressions, and iniquity. Each term projects an aspect of David’s understanding of his wrongdoing. By the term transgression, David knows he has contravened God’s holy law. By the term iniquity, David understands it as extreme wickedness.

He is the wicked man who seeks God’s mercy – what we all should be doing when caught in moments of wickedness.

Sin may cause pain and suffering in the lives of others. It may cause a temporal thrill-feel and perceived advantage to the sinner. But the real victim of sin is the Creator God. Hence, what we do or don’t do to the least of the Lord’s brothers we do or don’t to the Lord Himself.

David is an interesting criminal. He openly tells the Judge that the list of charges against him is nothing. He has been a criminal all his life, from birth! What a way to exculpate oneself!

So how does the LORD help one born a sinner? From the beginning. Rebirth. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Verse 10. Forget the bad heart. It cannot mend. Give me a new one. David is pointing to the work of the Christ. With a renewed heart, let me have the right ambitions, aspirations, and hopes. Shape my desires.

Then the plea: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me”

As an anointed lad, David had the difficult job of praying away the demons that were tormenting King Saul. Of course, this happened when the Spirit left King Saul. He knew the consequence of losing the Holy Spirit. It shouldn’t happen to him.

Sin has left David in very bad shape. He is low and feels empty. Typical of sin. Therefore, he prays: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Let the LORD deliver him from the guilt of bloodshed.

Interestingly, there is no record of David going to offer his sin offering at the Sanctuary. He knew there was something better. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Verse 17.

Here is something to think about. The long-awaited scepter is in David’s hand. That is the blessing of Judah. It reflects very strongly the blessing of dominion as per the original mandate. Genesis chapter 1 verse 28. But when you see David in torn clothes and laid on the floor in repentance, away from his throne, then you know dominion means more than just political administration, political power, political freedom, and political authority.

In his moment of extreme wickedness, David failed to rule over sin. It mastered him in the manner of sinful Cain, leading to murder. The Body of Christ should be more concerned about this lack of dominion rather than the political dominion that envisions prosperity, success, wealth, physical authority, and physical wellbeing.

David understood this problem and prayed: Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. Psalm 19 verse 13.

Indeed, let no sin rule over you. Amen

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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