51 Written after Nathan the prophet had come to inform David of God’s judgment against him because of his adultery with Bathsheba, and his murder of Uriah, her husband.
O loving and kind God, have mercy. Have pity upon me and take away the awful stain of my transgressions. 2 Oh, wash me, cleanse me from this guilt. Let me be pure again. 3 For I admit my shameful deed—it haunts me day and night. 4 It is against you and you alone I sinned and did this terrible thing. You saw it all, and your sentence against me is just. 5 But I was born a sinner, yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 6 You deserve honesty from the heart; yes, utter sincerity and truthfulness. Oh, give me this wisdom.
7 Sprinkle me with the cleansing blood[a] and I shall be clean again. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 And after you have punished me, give me back my joy again. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins—erase them from your sight. 10 Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. 11 Don’t toss me aside, banished forever from your presence. Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to other sinners, and they—guilty like me—will repent and return to you. 14-15 Don’t sentence me to death. O my God, you alone can rescue me. Then I will sing of your forgiveness,[b] for my lips will be unsealed—oh, how I will praise you.
16 You don’t want penance;[c] if you did, how gladly I would do it! You aren’t interested in offerings burned before you on the altar. 17 It is a broken spirit you want—remorse and penitence. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not ignore.
18 And Lord, don’t punish Israel for my sins—help your people and protect Jerusalem.[d]
19 And when my heart is right,[e] then you will rejoice in the good that I do* and in the bullocks I bring to sacrifice upon your altar.
- Psalm 51:7 Sprinkle me with the cleansing blood, literally, “Purge me with hyssop”; see Exodus 12:22; Hebrews 9:18-22.
- Psalm 51:14 forgiveness, literally, “righteousness.”
- Psalm 51:16 penance, literally, “a sacrifice.”
- Psalm 51:18 and protect Jerusalem, literally, “do good in your good pleasure unto Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem.”
- Psalm 51:19 And when my heart is right, implied. then you will rejoice in the good that I do, literally, “then you will delight in the sacrifice of righteousness.”