For the worship leader. A song of David after Nathan the prophet accused him of infidelity with Bathsheba.
One of the most difficult episodes in King David’s life was his affair with Bathsheba and all that resulted from it. Psalm 51 reflects the emotions he felt after Nathan confronted him with stealing Bathsheba and murdering her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11–12).
At one time or another, all people experience the painful consequences of sin. Psalm 51 has been a comfort and a help to millions who have prayed these words as their own. It invites all who are broken to come before God and lean upon His compassion. It teaches that we need not only to be forgiven for the wrong we have done, but we also need to be cleansed of its effects on us. Ultimately, it helps us recognize that if we are to be healed, it is the work of God to create in us a heart that is clean and a spirit that is strong.
1 Look on me with a heart of mercy, O God, according to Your generous love. According to Your great compassion, wipe out every consequence of my shameful crimes. 2 Thoroughly wash me, inside and out, of all my crooked deeds. Cleanse me from my sins.
3 For I am fully aware of all I have done wrong, and my guilt is there, staring me in the face. 4 It was against You, only You, that I sinned, for I have done what You say is wrong, right before Your eyes. So when You speak, You are in the right. When You judge, Your judgments are pure and true.[a] 5 For I was guilty from the day I was born, a sinner from the time my mother became pregnant with me.
6 But still, You long to enthrone truth throughout my being; in unseen places deep within me, You show me wisdom. 7 Cleanse me of my wickedness with hyssop, and I will be clean. If You wash me, I will be whiter than snow. 8 Help me hear joy and happiness as my accompaniment, so my bones, which You have broken, will dance in delight instead. 9 Cover Your face so You will not see my sins, and erase my guilt from the record.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; restore within me a sense of being brand new. 11 Do not throw me far away from Your presence, and do not remove Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You; let Your willing Spirit sustain me.
13 If You do, I promise to teach rebels Your ways and help sinners find their way back to You. 14 Free me from the guilt of murder, of shedding a man’s blood, O God who saves me. Now my tongue, which was used to destroy, will be used to sing with deep delight of how right and just You are.
15 O Lord, pry open my lips that this mouth will sing joyfully of Your greatness. 16 I would surrender my dearest possessions or destroy all that I prize to prove my regret, but You don’t take pleasure in sacrifices or burnt offerings. 17 What sacrifice I can offer You is my broken spirit because a broken spirit, O God, a heart that honestly regrets the past, You won’t detest.
18 Be good to Zion; grant her Your favor. Make Jerusalem’s walls steady and strong. 19 Then there will be sacrifices made, burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings, With right motives that will delight You. And costly young bulls will be offered up to Your altar, only the best.
For the worship leader. A contemplative song[a] of David when the Edomite Doeg told Saul that David had received help from Ahimelech.
Psalm 52 recalls the callous way Doeg and Saul put to death the 85 priests of Nob (1 Samuel 22:6–19). The psalm ends with a memorable image: the one who keeps faith with God is like a lush olive tree cared for in His garden. While those who do not trust in Him are snatched up and torn away, those who do right will flourish under His care.
1 Why do you boast of all the trouble you stir up, O mighty one, when the constant, unfailing love of God is what truly lasts? 2 Have you listened to yourself? Your tongue is like a sharp razor, full of lies that slash and tear right to the soul. 3 You’ve fallen in love with evil and have no interest in what He calls good. You prefer your own lies to speaking what is true.
4 You love words that destroy people, don’t you, lying tongue?
5 You won’t be smiling when the True God brings His justice and destroys you forever. He will come into your home, snatch you away, and pull you from the land of the living.
6 Those who are just will see what happens to you and be afraid. And some of them will laugh and say, 7 “Hey, look! Over there is the one who didn’t take shelter in the True God; Instead, he trusted in his great wealth and got what he wanted by destroying others!”
8 But my life is abundant—like a lush olive tree cared for at the house of the one True God. I put my trust in His kind love forever and ever; it will never fail. 9 Because of all You have done, I will humble myself and thank You forever. With Your faithful people at my side, I will put my hope in Your good reputation.
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