Psalms 51:1-2

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

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

Psalms 51:1-2 Meaning and Commentary

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. The occasion of this psalm was the sin of David with Bathsheba, signified by "going in to her"; an euphemism for "lying with her"; which sin was a very aggravated one, she being another man's wife, and the wife of a servant and soldier of his, who was at the same time exposing his life for his king and country's good; and David besides had many wives, and was also king of Israel, and should have set a better example to his subjects; and it was followed with other sins, as the murder of Uriah, and the death of several others; with scandal to religion, and with security and impenitence in him for a long time, until Nathan the prophet was sent to him of God, to awaken him to a sense of his sin; which he immediately acknowledged, and showed true repentance for it: upon which, either while Nathan was present, or after he was gone, he penned this psalm; that it might remain on record, as a testification of his repentance, and for the instruction of such as should fall into sin, how to behave, where to apply, and for their comfort. The history of all this may be seen in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the second book of Samuel.

Cross References 7

  • 1. S 2 Samuel 24:14; S Psalms 9:13
  • 2. S Psalms 25:7; S Psalms 119:88
  • 3. S Nehemiah 9:27; Psalms 86:15; Isaiah 63:7
  • 4. S 2 Samuel 12:13; S 2 Chronicles 6:21; S Nehemiah 4:5; Acts 3:19
  • 5. S Psalms 39:8; Isaiah 43:25; Colossians 2:14
  • 6. S Ruth 3:3; Jeremiah 2:22; Jeremiah 13:27; Acts 22:16; 1 John 1:9
  • 7. Proverbs 20:30; Isaiah 4:4; Ezekiel 36:25; Zechariah 13:1; Matthew 23:25-26; Hebrews 9:14

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. In Hebrew texts 51:1-19 is numbered 51:3-21.
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