Psalms 51:1


The Bible says in Psalms 51:1-4, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.[2] Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.[3] For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.[4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” Psalms chapter fifty-one is a great passage in the Bible that tells us about confession and the forgiveness of sins. It also shows how God uses all things to turn out for good to them that love God. It would have been better had David not committed such sins, but God used David’s confession for all of us to read and to remind us that we can be forgiven too. Notice that David’s confession is to God and not to any priest or preacher.


David knew that he had one chance: God’s mercy. Mercy is when you do not get what you deserve. David mentioned his own transgressions, and iniquity, and sin. Because of these things, David deserved punishment. His only hope was mercy. When you have a guilty conscience, then you know that your only hope is to find mercy from the Lord Jesus. David showed his conscience in verse three, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” God just wants us to tell Him the truth. That is what confession to Jesus is all about: telling the truth about what we have done from God’s perspective instead of trying to forget it or justify it.


Verse two tells us exactly what happens when we confess our sins, “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Jesus totally and completely cleanses us when we have an honest confession of our sins. This is spiritual cleansing that comes from being rightly related to Jesus. Forgiveness of sins has two aspects to it: the first is when a person gets saved from the final punishment of sin by accepting Jesus as Savior. If you have called upon the name of the Lord Jesus and thus come to know Him as your Savior, when you die and stand before God, all your sins will be forgiven and you will be allowed into heaven.


The second aspect to the forgiveness of sins is what was going on with David here in Psalms chapter fifty-one. David was already a believer, but he sinned. David failed the Lord. At that point David needed to be forgiven to restore a right relationship with God. Christians need to confess their sins daily so that they can stay in fellowship with Christ. This truth is also expressed very clearly in First John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Apostle John wrote “we.” He included himself in this need for daily forgiveness. The word “confess” means “to say the same thing as.” When we confess our sins, we are saying the same thing about our sins that God says about them: it was wrong, and we should not have done it, and we are guilty, and we need to turn to the Lord for cleansing. Jesus is “faithful and just;” we are not. By saying that He is faithful, it means that He will always forgive us. And He is “just” to forgive us because He died for our sins. God’s judgment fell upon Him on the cross, and therefore His sense of divine justice requires that He forgive us. And also He does forgive us from “all” unrighteousness. There is no sin too great or too evil that Jesus will not forgive. Doing what David did in Psalms chapter fifty-one and doing what John told us to do in First John 1:9, is what is required for a believer to keep following the Lord. You will either keep confessing your sins and thus keep following the Lord, or you at some point will stop confessing you sins, and thus you will stop following the Lord and stop serving the Lord.


The Bible says in Psalms 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” This verse explains why we sin so easily and so often. We are born sinners. In other words we are born with a sinful human nature. As sparks fly upward, humans tend to sin. Our selfish nature overpowers us. Our feet end up on the wrong path due to unwise decisions. We rebel by nature against God and His commandments. Often we probably do not understand how sinful we really are. It says in Romans 1:18-32, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;[19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.[20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:[21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.[22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,[23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.[24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:[25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.[26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:[27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.[28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;[29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,[30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,[31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:[32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” That is a good description of all of us without Christ.


The Bible says in Psalms 51:6, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” What does God want from us? For one thing He wants us to be honest with Him and to be honest about ourselves. That is what confession of sin is all about: deep down in your soul to say the truth to God about your sins. Once you do that, then God gives you something: wisdom: the wisdom to know that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God, and the wisdom to start ordering your steps rightly.


The Bible says in Psalms 51:7, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” This is another verse about the result of having an honest confession of sin to the Lord Jesus. Hyssop was a bushy branch that was used to sprinkle blood and water during the sacrifices and rituals in the temple. Those sacrifices and rituals were only symbolic. The real forgiveness and the real cleansing happens within the heart. When Jesus forgives us, He does it perfectly because He makes us “whiter than snow.” Notice that David said, “I shall be whiter than snow.” David had confidence that because he had confessed, that God had forgiven him. Once you ask Jesus to forgive you, then believe that you are forgiven.


The Bible says in Psalms 51:8, “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” This verse tells us one of the results of confessing our sins: “joy and gladness.” Sin causes sorrow. To get your happiness back, confess your sins.


The Bible says in Psalms 51:9, “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.” It is amazing that the all-knowing God can hide His face from our sins. It is nice to know that we can be in a relationship with God such that when He sees us, He does not see our sins. That takes away all fear and guilt. Once we are forgiven, one of the reasons that God does not see our sins is that our sins do not exist any longer. God creates, and He also destroys if He wishes. He can “blot out” all our iniquities. When we put our faith in Christ and He justifies us, it truly is “just as if we never sinned.”


The Bible says in Psalms 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” The spiritual needs that David had could only be fulfilled by God. God had to do something in David’s heart. It is the same need of every human being: Jesus needs to do a work in the heart to change the heart and to change the spirit of a man that is within him. And so when someone recognizes their need, and asks God for help, that is when they find Christ and find forgiveness. God gives everyone a free choice. If you use your choice to open up your heart to Christ, He will come in and change you.


The Bible says in Psalms 51:11, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.” This is the cry of a Christian who knows how wonderful it is to be in fellowship with Christ and who does not want to lose that relationship with the Lord. Sin will separate you from God, and so confession will keep you in right relationship with Him. If you value your relationship with the Lord, then you will keep turning to the Lord no matter how much you may fail Him on a given day. You must confess your sins because the Holy Spirit is not going to use a sinful Christian who has unconfessed sin in his or her life.


The Bible says in Psalms 51:12, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” If you have ever been saved through Christ, then you know the joy of salvation: knowing that God loves you, Jesus died for you, your sins are forgiven, and you have a home in heaven. You cannot lose your salvation, but you can lose your joy. Sin will cause you to lose your joy, and getting right with God through confession of your sins will get your joy back. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. It is interesting that the last part of verse twelve speaks of God’s “free spirit.” God’s Spirit is free to us because His Spirit was given to us from Christ. One of the benefits of salvation is the gift of the Holy Spirit: the Comforter that Jesus said would be given to each believer. Perhaps the Spirit of God is also called a “free spirit” because of the freedom that the Spirit gives: freedom to serve God, freedom from the spirit of the world and of darkness, and freedom to really enjoy life the way that it was meant to be enjoyed.


The Bible says in Psalms 51:13-15, “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.[14] Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.[15] O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.” These verses tell us one of the reasons that we need to be right with God: in order to be good witnesses for Christ. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven.” The Light of Christ will not shine through you unless you are walking in fellowship with Jesus. We cannot teach transgressors God’s “ways” unless we are walking in the way of God ourselves. Notice in verse fourteen David says, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness.” In other words, because we know the truth about salvation through faith in Christ, we have a responsibility to those who do not know. We might be able to help keep them from hell. You never know what a word of faith might do for someone else’s heart. You never know how the Spirit of God might use you, if you keep your sins confessed and stay close to the Lord. David mentioned “my tongue,” “my lips,” and “my mouth.” Not many people say things about the Lord Jesus verbally. If you open your mouth, God will fill it and use you. Notice in verse fifteen that David wrote, “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.” Put the responsibility back on the Lord. Ask Him to open your mouth if there is something about Jesus in a certain situation that He wants you to say. 


The Bible says in Psalms 51:16-17, “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.[17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Salvation and forgiveness come by faith without works. If you do nothing at all but put your faith in Jesus, that is when you are forgiven. And that is why there are no sacrifices for you to make. There is no work for you to do, and nothing for you to pay. Jesus paid it all with His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. God is concerned about our attitude towards our sins. He wants us to be serious, and concerned, and sorrowful. He wants us to have godly repentance.


The Bible says in Psalms 51:18-19, “Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt-offering and whole burnt-offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.” The performance of good deeds has nothing to do with receiving salvation or receiving the forgiveness of sins, but once we are rightly related to the Lord through the grace that is in Christ, there are deeds for us to do. In the Old Testament they were told to make the sacrifices as described in the law of Moses. We no longer have priests, or the priesthood, or temple worship; but we do have things to do according to the teachings of Jesus such as gathering together in church service and doing things to help to spread the Gospel of Christ. We need God’s help to do those things. We need the Lord to build “the walls of Jerusalem.” In other words, He must strengthen us and bless us and make us into something that can be used for His service.



Copyright; 2019 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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