Have mercy upon me, O God, according to they lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin…. Psalm 51:1,2..
Psalm 51 is a great example of a passionate prayer to God, by a man who sinned greatly, and who was grieved! This is a Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone to Bathsheba.
The story is told in 2 Samuel 11 &12. David saw a beautiful woman when he went out on the rooftop in the evening. She was bathing. He sent messengers to get her. He knew full well who this woman was, and that she was married to Uriah the Hittite.
Uriah was a valiant man, and he was away fighting the Ammonites. David’s army was winning battles.
Bathsheba found out she was with David’s child, soon after sleeping with him.
David’s problems went from bad to worse. He ordered Uriah home, and gave him meat and congratulated him for his service in battle, and told him to go home and rest.
Uriah was a very honorable man. He didn’t think it was right to sleep in his house under a roof, when the other men fighting the war could not be under their roofs, at home with their wives.
David got Uriah drunk, yet he still would not go to his house to be with Bathsheba.
Then, David sent Uriah back to the war front with a note in his hand. Uriah was ordered by David to give it to Joab, the army commander. It told Joab to send Uriah into the heat of battle, and then retreat from him. David was giving Uriah a death sentence. Uriah was killed by the Ammonites.
David received the news of Uriah’s death. Then after Bathsheba heard the news, and mourned for her husband, David sent for her, and married her. She had a son. But God was not pleased.
David thought he was in the clear, and had fixed the problem, but God saw, He sees everything. God told Nathan to go to David.
Nathan tells a story to David about a poor man who had nothing, save a little lamb. He also said there was a rich man with many flocks and herds.
The picture Nathan paints is of a lamb that is loved by the poor shepherd. It grows with his children, drinks from his cup, eats of the shepherds own food, and becomes as a daughter to the poor man.
When a traveler comes through, the rich man spares his own flocks, and takes the poor man’s lamb to feed to the traveler.
David is furious. He was once a shepherd and can understand what has happened. He wants the rich man dead, and for him to pay back fourfold to the poor man because he had no pity.
Then Nathan tells David that David is the rich shepherd. David had a kingdom, a nation, wives, riches, and if he had wanted more, God would have given it to him. However, he took a poor man’s wife, a noble man’s wife, and had him killed by Israel’s enemies.
God spared David’s life, but a curse was put on his house. The sword would never depart from it. Also, the little son born to Bathsheba would die. God would raise up evil in David’s own house because of this. What David did in secret would happen with his own wives in the open.
David was sorry for what he did.
That was what prompted him to write Psalm 51.
I am so glad for David’s repentance, and the fact that this story was told in the Bible. Many people can relate to David’s great sin, and to this beautiful prayer asking for God’s forgiveness and mercy. Many of us have wanted God to blot out our transgressions, and to wash us and make us clean, and to deliver us from blood guiltiness. I find great comfort in this Psalm of David.
Thank You God, that You are merciful. You hear us when we pray, and have the ability to forgive and restore us. Thank You that Your word contains stories like David’s, so that we can know how to pray, and can see the results of sin, and the consequences of it. Keep us from evil and temptations, and fill us with Jesus, and Your love. Amen.