David’s repentance is given to us in Psalm 51. In fact, this psalm is the greatest prayer of repentance that’s ever been prayed.
- It is a prayer of repentance regarding the sin with Bath-sheba and against Uriah.
- As well, this prayer symbolizes Israel in the murder of her Messiah and then her ultimate restoration, which will take place at the second coming.
- It also is the intercessory prayer of Christ on behalf of all His people. So, when we read this prayer, we are reading something totally unlike anything else in the Bible. Considering that this is the Intercession of the Lord on our behalf, and for all time, it places it in a category all it’s own.
THE TIME FRAME
As to exactly when David prayed this prayer, we aren’t told. However, by the fact that the Holy Spirit said to David through Nathan the prophet, “. . . The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (II Sam. 12:13), tells us that the possibility at least exists that David had already prayed this prayer when Nathan the prophet came to him. In other words, he had already repented of the deed; nevertheless, the Lord would now tell him what he would suffer because of this terrible sin. While forgiveness definitely restores fellowship, which is all-important, it does not negate the penalty. In other words, sin sets in motion a series of events, which the Lord could stop, and He most definitely does stop some of them, but seldom does He stop all! The truth is, David will pay dearly for what he did.
Due to the magnitude of Psalm 51, which is the prayer of repentance of David, I think it would be best that we copy it directly from The Expositor’s Study Bible:
“Have Mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (This is a psalm of David, written when Nathan the prophet came unto him after the sin with Bath-sheba and the murder of her husband Uriah [II Sam., Chpt. 12]. This psalm was given by the Holy Spirit to David when, his heart broken and contrite because of his sin against God, he pleaded for pardon through the atoning blood of the Lamb of God, foreshadowed in Exodus, Chapter 12. Thus, he was not only fittingly provided with a vehicle of expression in repentance and faith, but he was also used as a channel of prophetic communication.
“David, in his sin, repentance, and restoration, is a forepicture of Israel. For as he forsook the law and was guilty of adultery and murder, so Israel despised the covenant, turned aside to idolatry [spiritual adultery], and murdered the Messiah.
“Thus the scope and structure of this psalm goes far beyond David. It predicts the future confession and forgiveness of Israel in the day of the Messiah’s second coming, when, looking upon Him whom they pierced, they shall mourn and weep [Zech., Chpts. 12-13].
“As well, this is even more perfectly a vivid portrayal of the intercessory work of Christ on behalf of His people. Even though David prayed this prayer, the Son of David would make David’s sin [as well as ours] His own and pray through him that which must be said.
“This means that this is the truest prayer of repentance ever prayed because it symbolizes the intercessory work of the Son of David.)”
“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin (man’s problem is sin, and man must admit that; the only remedy for sin is ‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified,’ to which David, in essence, appealed [Heb. 10:12]; the blood of Jesus Christ alone cleanses from all sin [I Jn. 1:7]).”
“For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me (the acknowledgement of Verses 3 through 4 is the condition of divine forgiveness; all sin, in essence, is committed against God; therefore, God demands that the transgressions be acknowledged, placing the blame where it rightfully belongs — on the perpetrator; He cannot and, in fact, will not, forgive sin that is not acknowledged and for which no responsibility is taken).”
SIN AGAINST GOD
“Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight: that You might be justified when You speak, and be clear when You judge. (While David’s sins were against Bath-sheba, her husband Uriah, and all of Israel, still, the ultimate direction of sin, perfected by Satan, is always against God.
“All sin is a departure from God’s ways to man’s ways.
“David is saying that God is always ‘justified’ in any action that He takes, and His ‘judgment’ is always perfect.).”
“Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Unequivocally, this verse proclaims the fact of original sin. This passage states that all are born in sin as a result of Adam’s fall in the garden of Eden.
“When Adam, as the federal head of the human race, failed, this means that all of humanity failed. It means that all who would be born would, in effect, be born lost.
“As a result of this, the second Man, the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, had to come into this world, in effect, God becoming man, to undo what the original Adam did. He would have to keep the law of God perfectly, which He did, all as our substitute, and then pay the penalty for the terrible sin debt owed by all of mankind, for all had broken the law, which He did by giving Himself on the Cross of Calvary [Jn. 3:16].
“To escape the judgment of original sin, man must be ‘born again,’ which is carried out by the believing sinner expressing faith in Christ and what Christ did at the Cross [Jn. 3:3; Eph. 2:8-9].)”
“Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part You shall make me to know wisdom (man can only deal with the externals, and even that, not very well; God alone can deal with the ‘inward parts’ of man, which is the source of sin, which speaks of the heart; in other words, the heart has to be changed, which the Lord alone can do [Mat. 5:8]).”
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (The petition, ‘purge me with hyssop,’ expresses a figure of speech. ‘Purge me with the blood which on that night in Egypt was sprinkled on the doorposts with a bunch of hyssop’ [Ex. 12:13, 22] portrays David’s dependence on ‘the blood of the Lamb.’
“David had no recourse in the law, even as no one has recourse in the law. The law can only condemn. All recourse is found exclusively in Christ and what He did for us at the Cross, of which the slain lamb and the blood on the doorposts in Egypt were symbols [Ex. 12:13].)”
JOY AND GLADNESS
“Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which You have broken may rejoice. (Forgiveness for the past never exhausts the fullness of pardon. There is provision for the future.
“The expression, ‘bones which You have broken,’ presents a figure of speech meaning that one cannot proceed until things have been made right with God. It is as though a man’s leg is broken, and he cannot walk. Unforgiven sin immobilizes the soul the same as a broken bone immobilizes the body.)”
BLOT OUT ALL INIQUITIES
“Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. (Unforgiven sin stares in the face of God. This can only be stopped when the sins are put away, which can only be done by proper confession and repentance, with the blood of Jesus being applied by faith. When this is done, the ‘iniquities’ are ‘blotted out’ as though they had never existed. This is ‘justification by Faith’ [Rom. 5:1].)”
A RIGHT SPIRIT
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (David’s heart was unclean. Sin makes the heart unclean. The word ‘create’ is interesting. It means the old heart is infected by sin, is diseased, and cannot be salvaged. God must, spiritually speaking, ‘create a clean heart’ [Ezek. 18:31].
“Also, it is impossible for any individual to have a ‘right spirit’ if there is unconfessed sin.)”
THE HOLY SPIRIT
“Cast me not away from Your presence; and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. (If sin is unconfessed and rebellion persists, God will ultimately ‘cast away’ the individual ‘from His presence.’ He will also ‘take the Holy Spirit’ from the person. This refutes the doctrine of unconditional eternal security.)”
“Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation; and uphold me with Your free spirit. (Part of the business of the Holy Spirit is ‘restoration,’ but only if the individual meets God’s conditions, as David did, and as we must do. With unconfessed sin, all ‘joy’ is lost. With sin confessed, cleansed, and put away, the ‘joy of . . . salvation’ returns. A clean heart, a willing spirit, and a steadfast will are then given by the Holy Spirit.)”
THE WAYS OF THE LORD
“Then will I teach transgressors Your ways; and sinners shall be converted unto You. (Before repentance, David was in no condition to proclaim God’s truth to ‘transgressors’ because he was a transgressor himself.
“Upon true repentance, David was now ready to teach and to preach, and the Holy Spirit attested to that.)”
“Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, You God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. (This refers to the terrible sin of having Uriah, the husband of Bath-sheba, killed [II Sam. 11:14-21].
“Only the consciously pardoned sinner can ‘sing aloud’ of God’s righteousness. Unpardoned men can speak of His mercy, but their thoughts about it are unholy thoughts.)”
“O Lord, open You my lips; and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. (Proper praise to the Lord cannot go forth as long as there is unconfessed sin. This is the reason for such little praise in most churches, and far too often the praise which actually is offered is hollow. True praise can only come from a true heart!)
“For You desire not sacrifice; else would I give it: You delight not in burnt offering. (No penance, sacraments, or costly gifts of churches or men, regarding expiation of past sins, are desired or accepted by God. Only faith and trust in Christ and what He has done for us at the Cross can be accepted by the Lord.
“Unfortunately, the world tries to create a new god, while the church tries to create another sacrifice. There is only one sacrifice for sin [Heb. 10:12].)”
THE SACRIFICES OF GOD
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. (True repentance will always include a ‘broken spirit’ and a ‘broken and contrite heart.’ Such alone will accept Christ and what Christ has done at the Cross. God will accept nothing less.)”
“Do good in Your good pleasure unto Zion: build You the walls of Jerusalem. (Verses 18-19 are not, as some think, a meaningless addition to the psalm by some later writer. They both belong to the structure and prophetic scope of the psalm.
“David’s sin, confession, and restoration illustrate this future chapter in Israel’s history. With their idolatry [spiritual adultery] and murder forgiven, they will go forth as messengers of the gospel to win other nations to wholehearted faith and service in and for Christ.
“Upon Israel’s repentance, the Lord will once again ‘build You the walls of Jerusalem.’)”
THE SACRIFICES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
“Then shall You be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon Your altar. (The sacrificial program under the old system was lawful because it pointed to the coming redeemer. Since Christ and the Cross, they are no longer necessary, and for all the obvious reasons. Why the symbol when the substance is available?
“During the millennial reign, the sacrificial system will be restored, but only as a memorial of what Christ has done at the Cross [Ezek., Chpts. 40-48].)”
This message was taken from the Jimmy Swaggart hardback book, David.