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Friday, September 15, 2006

A Sermon on Psalm 51

A Sermon on Psalm 51


(Psa_51:1-6) The psalmist prays for mercy, humbly confessing and lamenting his sins.
(Psa_51:7-15) He pleads for pardon, that he may promote the glory of God and the conversion of sinners.
(Psa_51:16-19) God is pleased with a contrite heart, A prayer for the prosperity of Zion.

Introduction to verses 1-6
Matthew Henry,
Psa 51:1-6 -
"David, being convinced of his sin, poured out his soul to God in prayer for mercy and grace.
Whither should backsliding children return, but to the Lord their God, who alone can heal them?
he drew up, by Divine teaching, an account of the workings of his heart toward God.
Those that truly repent of their sins, will not be ashamed to own their repentance.
Also, he instructs others what to do, and what to say. David had not only done much, but suffered much in the cause of God; yet he flees to God's infinite mercy, and depends upon that alone for pardon and peace.
He begs the pardon of sin. The blood of Christ, sprinkled upon the conscience, blots out the transgression, and, having reconciled us to God, reconciles us to ourselves.
The believer longs to have the whole debt of his sins blotted out, and every stain cleansed; he would be thoroughly washed from all his sins; but the hypocrite always has some secret reserve, and would have some favorite lust spared.
David had such a deep sense of his sin, that he was continually thinking of it, with sorrow and shame.
His sin was committed against God, whose truth we deny by wilful sin; with him we deal deceitfully.
And the truly penitent will ever trace back the streams of actual sin to the fountain of original depravity.
He confesses his original corruption. This is that foolishness which is bound in the heart of a child, that proneness to evil, and that backwardness to good, which is the burden of the regenerate, and the ruin of the unregenerate.
He is encouraged, in his repentance, to hope that God would graciously accept him.
Thou desirest truth in the inward part; to this God looks, in a returning sinner.
Where there is truth, God will give wisdom. Those who sincerely endeavour to do their duty shall be taught their duty; but they will expect good only from Divine grace overcoming their corrupt nature."

Psa 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Q. What do we need as sinners?

A. The mercy of God.


Q. Who did David go to for mercy?

A. He went to God.

He went no where else for mercy. That would be pointless.


The individual nature of this prayer.

“Have mercy upon me, O God”

We all must come as individuals before God for mercy.

Q. On what basis does David plead the mercy of God?
A. “according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.”


From H2616; kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; rarely (by opprobrium) reproof, or (subjectively) beauty: - favour, good deed (-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity, reproach, wicked thing.

It is almost as if David had said.

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy mercy”

Our God is the God of Mercy.


Lot being delivered from Sodom.

Gen 19:16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

When the Lord shewed himself to Moses this is what we read.

Exo 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Moses speaking to the children of Israel.

Deu 4:31 (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

Neh 9:17 ……………but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness,…………………..


God is ready to pardon.

Psa 37:26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.

Psa 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

Psa 51:2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

“Wash me”

A primitive root; to trample; hence to wash (properly by stamping with the feet), whether literally (including the fulling process) or figuratively: - fuller, wash (-ing).

This is a very physical act of cleansing.

Christ himself trampled our sins by being trampled himself for our sakes.


The level to which we need this washing.

“Wash me throughly from mine iniquity”

This word in the Hebrew is


It appears 222 times in the biblical text.
multiply, 41
much, 32
multiplied, 29
many, 27
increase, 19
increased, 15
more, 11
great, 9

These words have to do with the extent of the subject.

The believer does not want partial washing but complete washing from sin.

The personal nature of sin.

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin

Also verses 3-4.

In order for forgiveness to be realized we must be convinced of the personal reality of our guilt.

This sin belongs personally to me!!! It is my property!!!

Psa 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

“I acknowledge”


This word appears 930 times in the biblical text.

The most common translation of it is the word “Know”

429 times.

Therefore David could have said,

“I know my transgressions”

Q. Do you know your transgressions?

Q. Can the believer escape sin by himself?


“and my sin is ever before me”

We cannot avoid sin it must be dealt with by God himself.


From H5046; a front, that is, part opposite; specifically a counterpart, or mate; usually (adverbially, especially with preposition) over against or before: - about, (over) against, X aloof, X far (off), X from, over, presence, X other side, sight, X to view.

Psa 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.

We need to ask a very simple and obvious question at this point.

Q. Who have we sinned against?

A. God, and God only.

“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned”


David had committed Adultery and Murder yet he says it was against God.

All sin is committed against God.


The unbeliever has no consciousness of his true guilt before God.

He thinks his only responsibility is to those around him.


What is the character of sin.

“and done this evil in thy sight”

Sin is Evil.

Evil = Heb.

rah, raw-aw'

From H7489; bad or (as noun) evil (naturally or morally). This includes the second (feminine) form; as adjective or noun: - adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, + displease (-ure), distress, evil ([-favouredness], man, thing), + exceedingly, X great, grief (-vous), harm, heavy, hurt (-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief, (-vous), misery, naught (-ty), noisome, + not please, sad (-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked (-ly, -ness, one), worse (-st) wretchedness, wrong. [Including feminine ra’ah; as adjective or noun.]

There is nothing good about sin!!!

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


The origin of Sin.

Verse 5.

We are by our very nature, sinners.

That is what theology calls “Original sin”

Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.



From G5453; growth (by germination or expansion), that is, (by implication) natural production (lineal descent); by extension a genus or sort; figuratively native disposition, constitution or usage: - ([man-]) kind, nature ([-al]).

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

A movie came out a number of years ago called “What women want”

We could put over this verse,

“What God Wants”

“thou desirest truth in the inward parts”

Consider firstly what God does not want.

Religious conformity or Heartless observance

Our Lord speaking to the woman at the well said:

Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.


(Psa_51:1-6) The psalmist prays for mercy, humbly confessing and lamenting his sins.
(Psa_51:7-15) He pleads for pardon, that he may promote the glory of God and the conversion of sinners.
(Psa_51:16-19) God is pleased with a contrite heart, A prayer for the prosperity of Zion.

We have looked at the first part, now let us look at the second.

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

Verse 7 deals with what needs to be done for the sinner.

“Purge me with hyssop”

We are not clear exactly what hyssop was.

But in the first mention of it in scripture we read.

Exo 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.

So we see its close connection with blood.

This reminds us of an important doctrine of scripture.

Heb 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.


This word in the Hebrew is very interesting.

A primitive root; properly to miss; hence (figuratively and generally) to sin; by inference to forfeit, lack, expiate, repent, (causatively) lead astray, condemn: - bear the blame, cleanse, commit [sin], by fault, harm he hath done, loss, miss, (make) offend (-er), offer for sin, purge, purify (self), make reconciliation, (cause, make) sin (-ful, -ness), trespassive

Some of these expressions bring into focus exactly what Christ done for us in his cross work.

2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.


The confidence of the penitent sinner in this verse.

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

This statement exposes those who say we cannot be sure of Justification this side of the grave.

David was convinced of the present reality of Justification.

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

We see in this verse that even in our sin God is working for our good.

“that the bones which thou hast broken”

This is the awful effect that sin has upon us. Yet God in his sovereign mercy over-rules for our blessing.

Psa 51:9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

We note in this verse the shame that sin brings.

David does not want God to look upon his sin.

The only way for this to happen is for his sin to be put away completely.


For God to do this for David meant the death sentence had already passed on the lord Jesus Christ.

Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

The repentant sinner does not just want forgiveness, but he wants a pure heart not to sin again.

He wants to honour the God who has cleansed him.

He wants to show the world that God has had dealings with him.

That he is a new man.

2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

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

The true believer mourns broken fellowship with his God.

Q. Can the Holy Spirit be taken from us in the same way it was taken from David.

A. See

1Th 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.

A prolonged form of an apparently primary verb; to extinguish (literally or figuratively): - go out, quench.


When you quench something it is gone.


Quenching a thirst.


The new birth and the indwelling of the holy spirit are distinctive doctrines. They are not the same.

So we cannot be un born spiritually but we can quench the spirit.
King David was born again but he had lost the fellowship of God’s spirit.

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


What he does not say.

He does not say, restore unto me thy salvation. He never lost that.

All he lost was the “joy” of Salvation.

This is the price of sin.


There is no freedom in sin, only bondage.

That is why David says,

“uphold me with thy free spirit”

Only those who experience the presence of God in their lives know true freedom.

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

“Then will I teach transgressors thy ways”


Only those who have had real dealings with God can teach others about him.

We cannot learn this in college.

“and sinners shall be converted unto thee”


God can take and does take repentant sinners and use them to bring other sinners to himself.

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

In verses 14 and 15 we are reminded of the “New Song” that God puts into the hearts of his people.

Psa 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

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


(Psa_51:1-6) The psalmist prays for mercy, humbly confessing and lamenting his sins.
(Psa_51:7-15) He pleads for pardon, that he may promote the glory of God and the conversion of sinners.
(Psa_51:16-19) God is pleased with a contrite heart, A prayer for the prosperity of Zion.

We have looked at the first two headings, now we will turn briefly to the third.

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

Q. What will God accept from a repentant sinner.

We see in verse 16 two things that God does not want.

In verse 17 two things he does want.

God finds a broken spirit and a contrite heart irresistible.

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

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

The restored sinner only desires that God would be honoured in the midst of his people.

He recognizes that,

Psa 127:1
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

He only wants God to build because only that building will last.

Then and only then can we experience the blessings of verse 19.

Psa 51:19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


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