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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 51

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-19

Psalms 51:0

Introduction - In Psalms 51:0 David records his prayer of repentance for his sin with Bathsheba. David’s sin had already been forgiven, yet the guilt and consequences of his sin still lingered, as it often does under the new covenant. In his prayer David asks the Lord not to take the Holy Spirit from him. Under the Old Covenant the Holy Spirit came and departed upon prophets, kings and priests as they ministered for the Lord. Under the New Covenant the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in believes forever and does not depart. David’s prayer is a prophetic cry for the full redemption of his soul, which will not take place until the full work of Calvary is accomplished and Jesus comes to received His Church. Despite this sin the New Testament tells us that David was a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22).

Acts 13:22, “And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.”

Psalms 51:1 (To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.) Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Psalms 51:4 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 51:4 “that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest” - Comments - This part of the verse is quoted in Romans 3:4 to justify that God is always in the right, and man is a fault.

Romans 3:4, “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”

Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalms 51:5 Comments - Born a sinner, sinful by nature (Leviticus 15:18, Romans 3:23).

Leviticus 15:18, “The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.”

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

Psalms 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Psalms 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalms 51:7 Comments - Hyssop was a plant that was used to sprinkle blood upon people and things, since it was associated with cleansing and purification. It represented the cleansing of the person's heart and soul. Note:

Exodus 12:22, “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop , and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.”

Leviticus 14:4-7, “Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop , and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.”

Leviticus 14:49-52, “And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop : And he shall kill the one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water: And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times: And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, and with the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet:”

Numbers 19:6, “And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.”

Hebrews 9:19-22, “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop , and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

In nature, it grows on walls:

1 Kings 4:33, “And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall : he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.”

The Jews sprinkled with hyssop and then washed themselves (Numbers 19:1-10). So,

Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Psalms 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Psalms 51:8 “that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice” Comments - This may reflect a broken relationship with God.

Psalms 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Psalms 51:11 “Cast me not way from thy presence” Comments - If sin is not confessed and dealt with, God will first remove His presence and then His Holy Spirit. Saul had been cast out of God's presence (1 Samuel 14:37).

1 Samuel 14:37, “And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day.”

Psalms 51:11 “and take not thy holy spirit from me” Comments - David knew that the Holy Spirit had been taken and removed from Saul:

1 Samuel 16:14, “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.”

1 Samuel 18:12, “And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.”

1 Samuel 28:15-16, “And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do. Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?”

Psalms 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Psalms 51:12 “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” - Comments - In June of 1979, I woke up about 2:00 a.m. in the morning, drove to the church where I had been raised and rededicated my life to the Lord. I said, “Lord, if you will give me the peace and joy that I had as a child going to church, I will serve you.” As David prayed here for God to restore to him the joy of His salvation, God did restore my joy. I went home that night and slept in peace for the first time in years, no longer under the conviction of sin.

Psalms 51:12 “and uphold me with thy free spirit” Word Study on “uphold” Strong says the Hebrew word “uphold” ( סָמַךְ ) (H5564) means, “to prop, to lean on or take hold of.”

Word Study on “free” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “free” ( נְדִיבָה ) (H5082) means, “nobility, a noble and happy condition.” Strong says this word is the feminine of the Hebrew ( נָדִיב ) (H5081), which Gesenius says means, “voluntary, willing, spontaneous, ready, generous noble.”

RSV, NASB a willing spirit

NLT - willing to obey you

Comments - God gives his Spirit freely.

Psalms 51:12 Comments - In Psalms 51:11 David asks for the present of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit. He then asks in Psalms 51:12 for the joy of his salvation. There is joy and the Holy Spirit in God’s presence (Psalms 16:11). The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10)

Psalms 16:11, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy ; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

Nehemiah 8:10, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength .”

Psalms 51:13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Psalms 51:14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

Psalms 51:14 “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness” Comments - David was guilty of murder.

Psalms 51:15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

Psalms 51:15 Comments - This is David's request for lips that would worship God in spirit and in truth, and not just lip service, but from his heart.

Psalms 51:16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

Psalms 51:16 Comments King David received a divine revelation during this time of distress and brokenness. He understood that God was not as interested in the sacrifice as He was the condition of a man’s heart. God wants a man to yield his life in daily sacrifice to Him. For example, Cain and Abel both offered sacrifices, but God was pleased with one and not the other. Saul also serves as an example of what not to offer (1 Samuel 15:22).

1 Samuel 15:22, “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

Scripture References - Note a similar verse:

Hebrews 10:8, “Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;”

Psalms 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalms 51:17 Comments - God is present in a repentant heart (Psalms 34:18, James 4:8).

Psalms 34:18, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

Psalms 51:18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

Psalms 51:18 “build thou the walls of Jerusalem” - Comments - We see this prophecy fulfilled in the natural when Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of this city after the Captivity.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 51". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/psalms-51.html. 2013.
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