Psalm 51 was written by David when he sought forgiveness and repentance after he had slept with Bathsheba. David was supposed to be leading his army into battle but he chose to stay home. We read in 2nd Samuel 11 how David found himself in a situation in which he was tempted with sex. David had great power and was able to do anything he wanted and he wanted Bathsheba. He chose to use his God given power to have Bathsheba brought to him and he sleeps with her. She then becomes pregnant. David decides that since she is married, he needs to get rid of her husband. David has him placed at the front of the battle and he is killed.
God gives a message to the prophet Nathan and he in return tells David of how God is disappointed in him. Afterwards it appears that David feels the conviction in his heart because of his sin against God. Then David seeks out the Lord in prayer because of the shame he now feels. Psalm 51 is his prayer to God.
The prayer appears to breakdown into several parts. First, he comes to God with a broken heart that seeks out His forgiveness. Then we read of David’s understanding of the character of how merciful God is. David also has a clear understanding that sin has always been within him since the day he was born. He proceeds to ask God to make his sins whiter than snow. He desires that God would renew his heart and restore him from the inside out.
This prayer from David is one that I believe we should pray ourselves. We need and should be broken before the Lord. We need Him to restore us and renew us. We need to have a heart of thanksgiving for what He has done. Then just as David did, we should ask God to restore the joy of our salvation, to uphold us by His generous spirit. Then we can teach transgressors His ways and sinners shall be converted (Psalm 51:12-13).
How do you pray? How do you seek forgiveness from God? Are you broken before the Lord? I believe there is much to learn from David’s prayer in Psalm 51 that will help us have a reverence for the Lord in our time of prayer. I challenge you to spend some time praying Psalm 51.
Their is a blog post written by Pastor Bob Mink called Shake Up Your Prayer Sequence, and he gives another approach in which we could pray. I have found it to be encouraging in my prayer life and I encourage you to read it and give it a try in your prayer life.
Click link below
See also 2nd Samuel 11 & 12
Psalm 51 (NKJV)
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.