4. David's Prayer for Pardon and Confession of Sin (Psalm 51)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
http://www.jesuswalk.com/greatprayers/4_david_confession.htm
Audio (39:10)
http://www.jesuswalk.com/greatprayers/4_david_confession_audio.htm

Psalm 51:1-19

David's Punishment, by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld
Detail of "David's Punishment" by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld (German artist, 1794-1872), woodcut illustration in Das Buch der Bcher in Bilden. Larger image.

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
5Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
14Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

18In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

 

From David, a lover of God and at the same time a terrible sinner, comes the most moving prayer for pardon in the Bible. If you've been burdened by sin and guilt, this prayer can serve as a model for you as you put your past behind you and move into a new place in God.

I'm calling this a Prayer for Pardon instead of a Prayer of Confession for a couple of reasons. First, "Prayer of Confession" has a fixed place in our church traditions, thus it is harder to examine. Second, I believe that it is fully possible to pray a prayer of confession without faith. The beauty of David's prayer is that it is above all a bold Prayer for Pardon in which he also confesses his sins. All in all, it is a beautiful example for us to learn from.

Setting the Scene (2 Samuel 11-12)

The ascription to Psalm 51 reads, "For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba." I take it that this indicates David's authorship of the Psalm. If so, herein lies a story of humble origins, a rise to glory, self-indulgence, moral corruption, and finally David's restoration to the God that he loved.

From boyhood David has loved God. His is a humble life, eighth son in a family of brothers who don't take him seriously. On the hillsides as a shepherd boy he composes songs to the Lord and sings them until the mountain crags echo with praises. But then his life takes a turn. He is called to King Saul's court to sing soothing songs to a troubled monarch. Then he kills the Philistine giant Goliath with a stone from his shepherd's slingshot and vanquishes the Philistine army that had oppressed the land. Now a military leader, he leads soldiers to fend off Philistine attacks against Israel. The common people sing, "Saul has killed his thousands, but David his ten thousands," and Saul, in jealousy, begins to fear and hate him. David runs for his life, and hides out for years in the rocky fastness of the wilderness and later among his enemies, the Philistines themselves.

Saul is finally killed and David exalted as king. He begins as a righteous ruler, but power and wealth take their toll on his moral compass. One day from the height of his palace, he watches as Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, one of his loyal warriors, bathes on her rooftop. In lust he calls her to the palace and gets her pregnant. When he can't blame her pregnancy on her husband, he has her husband killed. Now outwardly righteous, but inwardly corrupt, he is far from God.

But God is not far from him. One day God sends Nathan the prophet who tells him the simple story of a poor man being cheated by a rich man out of the little ewe lamb that he loves. Enraged, David says, "The man deserves to die."

Nathan lifts a bony finger, points directly at the corrupt King, says with an even voice, "You are that man," and pronounces the Lord's judgment upon him. This shocks David out his denial and cover-up.

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned (hātā) against the LORD."
Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin (hattāt). You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die." (2 Samuel 12:13-14)

The Lord punishes David for his sin, a Father's stern discipline you might call it, but he forgives the sin that had become a wedge between David and his God and restores him to fellowship. The Lord draws him close and David, now chastened, responds.

A Look at Psalm 51

We're going to analyze Psalm 51 together, verse by verse. But to get the big picture, I encourage you to read the Psalm over and over out loud. Pray it to God. Memorize its most memorable lines. Make it your own. Here is my outline of Psalm 51:

  1. Pleading for God's mercy (1-2)
  2. Confessing and acknowledging sin (3-5)
  3. Hungering for a pure heart once more (6-12)
  4. Resolving to declare God's grace (13-15)
  5. Offering the sacrifice of a contrite heart (16-17)
  6. Praying for Jerusalem's prosperity (18-19)

Now let's look at it section by section.

1. Pleading for God's Mercy (51:1-2)

"1Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin." (51:1-2)

David begins by calling out for mercy. Why? Because he recognizes that God's revealed character is one of love and compassion. From the time of Moses, God has revealed himself as:

"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7)

This self-revelation is not just a single occurrence. Throughout the Old Testament and the New, God is known as the God of mercy and compassion. (See for example: Psalm 86:15; 103:8-10; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:11; Nehemiah 9:17; Micah 7:18.) He is the God who disciplines his children but also forgives and restores them. Some people think the angry God of the Old Testament is vastly different from the loving Father of the New, but they are wrong. God shows his anger against sin in the Old Testament and the New, but is known above all for his mercy.

So David calls upon God's mercy as his sin lies exposed before God.

Mercy and Compassion (51:1)

God owes David no favors; David realizes he is bankrupt. So he begins his prayer:

"Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion." (51:1)

"Mercy" (hānan) means "be gracious, pity a heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need." Here it is a plea to Yahweh to "be gracious to me."1 David asks for this mercy in accordance with (that is, on the basis of) God's well-known character qualities of steadfast love and compassion.

"Unfailing love" (NIV), "lovingkindness" (KJV), and "steadfast love" (NRSV) translate the common Hebrew noun hesed. In the mid-twentieth century many scholars saw the word as expressing loyalty within a covenant.2But the word is more than that. It also carries ideas of love, faithfulness, good-heartedness, kindness. The KJV translation of "lovingkindness" may be a pretty good translation after all.3

"Compassion" (NIV), "tender mercies" (KJV), and "mercy" (NRSV) represent the Hebrew noun rahămm, "tender mercy, compassion." The root word "refers to deep love (usually of a 'superior' for an 'inferior') rooted in some 'natural' bond."4

A Request for Pardon (51:1b-2)

Now David makes his request:

" Blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin." (51:1b-2)

This is Spirit-inspired poetry, so in keeping with Hebrew poetic style of synoptic parallelism where two or more lines repeat the same idea, David makes his request with three synonyms for forgiveness and three synonyms for sin.

Blot out

transgressions

Wash away

iniquity

Cleanse

sin

We'll look at some synonyms for sin in a moment. But, first, I am fascinated by the synonyms for pardon.

"Blot out" (māhā) means "wipe, wipe out."5The word is used for blotting out the inhabitants of the earth in the flood and erasures in ancient leather scrolls made by washing or expunging. Here and in verse 9 the word seems to suggest "removing a stain."

"Wash away" (NIV, kābas) or "wash thoroughly" (KJV, NRSV) means "wash, be washed, perform the work of a fuller," that is "to make stuffs clean and soft by treading, kneading and beating them in cold water."6The same verb is found in verse 7b: "Wash me and I will be whiter than snow." The stain of sin is deep and David recognizes his need for radical and deep washing.

"Cleanse" (tāhēr) means "be pure, be clean." The word is used of wind sweeping the skies clear and the purifying of silver. It is used of moral purity as well as the ritual purity of the Levites and of holy vessels in the tabernacle.7The adjective formed from this verb is used in verse 10 where David asks for a "pure heart" or a "clean heart."

David asks God for a full pardon -- and cleansing of his character -- based on God's merciful nature. It is a bold and very hopeful prayer prayed by a desperately wounded sinner longing to be restored to fellowship with his God.

Q1. In what way does a prayer for pardon require faith? What is that faith based on? How does a person gain the faith to pray this prayer in confidence?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=86&t=354

 

 

 

 

2. Confessing and Acknowledging Sin (51:3-5)

David does not hide or minimize his sin. He owns up to it fully before God.

"3For I know my transgressions (pesha),
and my sin (hattāt) is always before me.
4Against you, you only, have I sinned (hātā)
and done what is evil (ra) in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
5Surely I was sinful (āwōn) at birth,
sinful (hēt) from the time my mother conceived me.
6Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place." (51:3-6)

I won't belabor the words for sin, but David uses a number of synonyms, each with a slightly different flavor and connotation.

Transgression (pesha), "rebellion, revolt," designating those who reject God's authority.8

Iniquity (āwōn), "infraction, crooked behavior, perversion, iniquity, etc." from a root that means "to bend, twist, distort."9

Sin (hattāt and hēt) from the root hātā that means to miss a mark or miss the way.10

(Do) evil (ra), "evil, distress, wickedness," the opposite of good.11

This isn't time to get into a full discussion of the doctrine of original sin. I don't think David is blaming his sinful human condition, that somehow he just can't help sinning because he is "only human." Rather, he is affirming that he is sinful through and through. He is acknowledging the awfulness of his sin in the clearest possible way by using these various synonyms of sin that describe its convolutions of rebellion, twistedness, missing the way, and wickedness.

As long as we try to excuse ourselves, to rationalize our sins to make them seem somewhat less guilt-worthy, we haven't confessed our sins to God in the way that is necessary. We must own up to our sinful behavior, take full responsibility for it, call it what it actually is, and be sorry for offending God in this way. Then we are ready for grace, but not until.

Notice verse 4:

"Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight."

Does this mean that David's sin against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah were meaningless, inconsequential? No, not at all. But David recognizes that the greatest sin of all is against the Lord that he purports to love. When he sins, he is flaunting his rebellion in God's face. He is saying to God, who told him that murder and adultery were wrong, that he doesn't care. Yes, we can sin against people and need to make these sins right (Matthew 5:23). But our sin is even more against our heavenly Father. It is that breach that must be healed at all costs.

Q2. In his prayer does David seek to minimize his sins? To maximize them? Why does an authentic prayer for pardon require clear, unvarnished acknowledgement of sin to be effective?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=86&t=355

 

 

 

3. Hungering for a Pure Heart Once More (51:6-12)

David has painted his iniquity in clear colors. Now he begins to contrast his own sinfulness with what God desires. He looks within. Sinfulness is not primarily in one's actions, but in one's heart.

6Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
7Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (51:6-12)

Integrity in the Heart (51:6)

In verse 6a David speaks of "the inner parts" (NIV), "the inward parts" (KJV), "the inward being" (NRSV). The Hebrew word tūhot describes an object "covered over, hidden, or concealed," carrying the idea of the inner being of a person covered up by the body.12The parallel idea in 6b is of an "inmost place" (NIV), "hidden part" (KJV), "secret heart" (NRSV), from the word sātam, "stop up, shut up, keep close."13In the New Testament Paul talks about the "inner being" (Romans 7:22), the "new self" (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:9). Peter uses the expression of "the inner self" (NIV, 1 Peter 3:4) or "the hidden man of the heart" (KJV).

It is this inner person who must be converted and cleansed and discipled. Our actions (when we are not putting on an act for others) flow from this inner person, from our heart of hearts. Jesus taught:

"For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34)
"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." (Matthew 15:19)

So David calls out for "truth in the inner parts" and "wisdom in the inmost place" (51:6).

A Prayer for Deep Cleansing (51:7)

Now he offers a prayer for deep cleansing:

7Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." (51:7)

"Cleanse me" translates a word that denotes a cleansing or purifying ceremony during which sin is done away with.14Hyssop is a small plant that grows on walls, probably marjoram in the mint family. It was used in purification ceremonies to apply blood and water.15David is calling upon God himself, not just a priest, to cleanse him through and through to remove his deeply ingrained sin. If God cleanses him, if God washes him, then he will be "whiter than snow."

A Prayer for the Joy of Salvation (51:8, 12)

"Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice." (51:8)
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation." (51:12a)

Being separated from God by sin brings pain in one's spirit, a sense of guilt and estrangement. Contrary to those who cynically perceive Christianity as a guilt-driven religion, God doesn't desire us to live with guilt, but to enjoy forgiveness and full fellowship with him. Here David prays for joy to replace his misery and "the bones you have crushed."

In verse 12a, the word "restore" (shûb), "turn back, return," carries the idea of "give back, restore"16David has known the joy of God's salvation and rescue before. Now he longs for this joy in fellowship to be restored to him once more. It is his earnest prayer.

Have you lost the "joy" of your salvation? Have you become somewhat distant from God? Have you taken God for granted? Or perhaps have you never really got to know him? God wants to restore the joy to you that is your birthright as a Christian. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit's work in your life (Galatians 5:22-23). Call out to him in repentance and receive the joy God desires for you.

A Prayer for a Pure Heart (51:10, 12b)

Now David prays for a pure heart and a willing spirit.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (51:10)

"and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (51:12b)

David uses two interesting words in his prayer in verse 10 -- "create" and "pure."

"Create" (bārā) in this verse carries the connotation of "to initiate something new."17

"Pure" (NIV, tāhōr) or "clean" (KJV) comes from a verb we saw in verse 2, "to cleanse," which is used of ritual or moral purity and of the pureness of the unalloyed gold of the temple furniture. The temple chambers which have been defiled (Nehemiah 13:9) are purified.18Now the word describes the heart David longs for.

But isn't he asking for too much? David has been a slave to lust, drunk with power, stained by murder. How can he now pray for a pure heart? Isn't it too late? No. Can we be pure again once we've been corrupted? Yes.

Jesus taught us, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" (Matthew 5:8). Peter observed, "He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9). God spoke to Peter, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean" (Acts 10:15). God is in the heart purification business. The author of Hebrews wrote:

"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" (Hebrews 9:14)

Do you feel unforgiven? Unforgivable? Jesus died for your sins and he desires to forgive you, no matter what you have done. Pray this prayer with David:

"Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (51:10)

The second part of verse 10 is a prayer for God to renew (hādash, "repair, renew, rebuild"19) a "right" (KJV, NRSV, kûn) or "steadfast" (NIV) spirit, "established, prepared, made ready, fixed, certain, right."20

In verse 12b he prays for a "willing spirit" (NIV, NRSV) or to be upheld by God's "free spirit" (KJV). The adjective nādīb, "noble, willing, inclined," is from the root nādab, "make willing, incite, an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service or sacrifice."21Oh, for a spirit that longs to serve God, a heart that is inclined to him!

Q3. Is it possible to have a pure heart? How does God bring about a pure heart? What is our part in this?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=86&t=356

 

 

 

Do Not Take Your Holy Spirit from Me (51:11)

Now David prays against his great fear:

"Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me." (51:11)

Is it a realistic fear? Is God like that? When David was just a boy, King Saul had sinned and rebelled against God. Shortly after this, the Prophet Samuel had come to his father's farm, directing that all Jesse's sons appear before him:

"So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.... Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul...." (1 Samuel 16:13-14)

The Spirit of God had left Saul and come upon David. So David is terrified that in his sin this would happen to him as well, that God's Spirit will desert him. But he repents and trusts God for the answer to his prayer.

4. Resolving to Declare God's Grace (51:13-15)

Now David looks forward to the answer to his prayer and how he will serve God.

"13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
14Save me from bloodguilt,22O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise." (51:13-15)

Restored and forgiven, he sees himself once again serving the Lord -- teaching, singing, praising. Note that he is not bargaining with God, but anticipating and promising to God what he will do. I don't see this so much as a vow but a vision of the future.

5. Offering the Sacrifice of a Contrite Heart (51:16-17)

Now David compares true repentance to ritual sacrifice.

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise." (51:16-17)

Not Outward Religion (51:16)

Though Israel had a well-developed sacrificial system designed to atone for sin, too often people just went through the motions of religion without real repentance, without a genuine desire for change, without a real love for God. Samuel had told King Saul:

"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:22)

You find this theme among several of the later prophets, as well.

"'The multitude of your sacrifices --
what are they to me?' says the LORD.
'I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.'" (Isaiah 1:11)
"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6)
"With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:6-9)

We Christians also have developed rituals through which we can be absolved from sin. It may be formal confession and absolution by a priest or pastor, or by praying a particular prayer. Confession is important in this process (James 5:16). But whatever shape it takes, God is not looking for outward religious action but for heart repentance and change. In Psalm 51, David fully realizes and celebrates this fact.

But a Broken and Contrite Heart (51:17)

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise." (51:17)

"The sacrifices of God" (NIV, KJV) or "The sacrifice acceptable to God" (NRSV) could also be translated, "My sacrifice, O God" (NIV, NRSV footnote). "Broken" (shābar) is used figuratively here of a broken heart.

"Contrite" is dākă, a by-form of the verb dk, which also means "to crush," and of dûk, "to pound, beat." The verb is consistently used of one who is physically and emotionally crushed because of sin or the onslaught of an enemy.23Together, the broken and contrite heart of verse 17 "describe the condition of profound contrition and awe experienced by a sinful person who becomes aware of the divine presence."24

Until our hearts break with sorrow at our sin, we are not quite ready for forgiveness. So often we are sad at being caught or exposed, but not sad at hurting the God who loves us or injuring his reputation by our sins. Nathan had told David that his sin had "made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt" (2 Samuel 12:14). Many conversions these days seem to lack the deep repentance that rends the heart (Joel 2:13). It is not religion, but a relationship that has been injured and must be restored. "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, " David cries (51:4). Oh, that our sins would break our hearts!

Q4. What does it mean to have a broken heart and spirit? Why is this essential in the prayer for pardon? In what sense is this a "sacrifice"? Why do we tend to resist a "broken and contrite heart" in ourselves?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=86&t=357

 

 

 

6. Praying for Jerusalem's Prosperity (51:18-19)

The psalm concludes with a prayer for Jerusalem.

"In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar." (51:18-19)

Assuming that the earlier part of the Psalm was penned by David, these last two verses could have been added after the fall of Jerusalem, as a prayer for the restoration of the city that had been destroyed because of the sin of the nation, recognizing the value of the Psalm as a corporate confession as well as a personal prayer for mercy.25

Lessons from a Prayer for Pardon

What do we learn from this Psalm about the prayer to God for pardon?

  1. A prayer for mercy. He doesn't owe us forgiveness. He offers forgiveness by grace, based on the death of Christ for our sins. We can't bargain for it or promise great deeds in exchange. It is so utterly expensive that it cannot be bought by our promises of future good deeds. It is mercy, pure and simple. A prayer for pardon is a prayer for mercy.
  2. A prayer of boldness. David's example is a bold prayer asking for full pardon for our sins. We don't minimize or excuse our sins, but confess them honestly and fully before God with no mitigating circumstances. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16)
  3. A prayer from a broken and contrite heart. Repentance -- confessing our sin, being sorry for it, and turning from it -- is necessary to pray the prayer for pardon.
  4. A prayer for inner purity. In addition to pardon, we are asking for a cleansing of our flawed character so that our hearts might be pure before God. An outward cleansing isn't enough, for God sees the heart and the heart must be changed.
  5. A prayer for the joy of salvation. When God lifts our sins from us, joy is the result. Our prayer for pardon seeks the joy of unobstructed fellowship and restored access to the presence of God.
  6. A prayer to tell others. Our prayer for pardon results in a desire to tell others of God's great mercy, a desire to witness to others of God's forgiveness.

Ultimately, the prayer for pardon is a prayer of faith that our Father will restore us. I've often wondered if Judas could have been forgiven. This side of heaven we don't know the answer. But to the best of our knowledge his faith didn't reach out for forgiveness, but languished in the belief that God could not forgive him.

Dear friends, there are many people today who believe God will not forgive them for what they have done. Perhaps you feel this way.

Great Prayers of the Bible: Discipleship Lessons in Petition and Intercession, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson (JesusWalk Publications, 2011)
Available as an e-book and paperbook

David's prayer for pardon is a mighty testimony of the mercy of God and our ability to come to him in prayer when we have sinned. This is very good news to the hopeless and the lost. Share the good news of the prayer for pardon and the God who made a way to forgive.

"Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you....
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise." (51:13, 15)

Prayer

Father, so often we sin and need to run back to you and say we are sorry. Teach us to keep short accounts with you. To quickly come and pray the prayer for pardon to you that we might be restored to you. Thank you for the love and sacrifice of Jesus that made all this possible. In His holy name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"10Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:10-12)

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise." (Psalm 51:17)

References

Standard Abbreviations http://www.jesuswalk.com/greatprayers/refs.htm

  1. Edwin Yamauchi, hānan, TWOT #694.
  2. For example, N.H. Snaith, The Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament (Schocken, 1964), pp. 94-130.
  3. R. Laird Harris, hesed, TWOT #698.
  4. Leonard J. Coppes, rāham, TWOT #2146a.
  5. Walter C. Kaiser, māhā, TWOT #1178.
  6. KB, p. 422, cited in John N. Oswalt, kābas, TWOT #946.
  7. Edwin Yamauchi, tāhēr, TWOT #792.
  8. G. Herbert Livingston, pāsha, TWOT #1846a.
  9. Carl Schultz āwā, TWOT #1577a.
  10. G. Herbert Livingston, hātā, TWOT #638e.
  11. G. Herbert Livingston, rāa, TWOT #2191a.
  12. Ralph H. Alexander, tûah, TWOT #795b.
  13. Sātam, TWOT #1550.
  14. The verb hātā, which means "sin, miss the way" in the Qal stem, means in the Piel and Hithpael stems "to make a sin offering" or a cleansing or purifying ceremony during which sin is done away with. G. Herbert Livingston, hātā, TWOT #638.
  15. See Exodus 12:22; Leviticus 14:4-6, 49-52; Numbers 19:6, 17-19; Hebrews 9:19; John 19:29. Herbert Wolf, ēzōb, TWOT #55.
  16. Shûb, BDB 999, Hiphil 1d.
  17. Thomas E. McComiskey, bārā, TWOT #278. A different synonym for "create," is yāsar, which suggests "to fashion, to shape something new."
  18. Edwin Yamauchi, tāhēr, TWOT #792d.
  19. Carl Philip Weber, hādash, TWOT #613.
  20. John N. Oswalt, kûh, TWOT #964. "The root meaning is to bring something into being with the consequence that its existence is a certainty."
  21. Leonard J. Coppes, nādab, TWOT #1299b.
  22. Bloodguilt (dām, "blood") was the sin of shedding innocent blood, considered a mortal sin. In David's case, he had ordered the death of Uriah, Bathsheba's husband. TWOT #436; BDB 197, g.
  23. Herbert Wolf, dākă, TWOT #428.
  24. Marvin E. Tate, Psalms 51-100 (Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 20; Word, 1990), pp. 28.
  25. So Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72 (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries; InterVarsity Press, 1973), p. 194; and Tate, Psalms 51-100, pp. 29-30. Franz Delitzsch (Keil and Delitzsch 5:141-143) defends Davidic authorship of these verses.

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