Psalm 51

Edge of Grand Canyon

Last week, I was struck by Psalm 51. I read a chapter of the Bible every morning over breakfast. Two different chapters actually – one in Spanish and one in English. Sometimes, I don’t have time to read both, so I get ahead in Spanish. Then, I lose my place (i.e. the bookmark slipped), and end up reading in completely different books – but it’s OK. Still educational!

First, I want to be sure to mention that Learning the Beauty of Humility With Horses is now available through a universal link with Books2Read – which allows you to purchase through other distributors like Kobo, in addition to Google Play!

OK, I would like to provide a little background and context as we talk about Psalm 51. The subtitle in the HCSB version is “A Prayer for Restoration.” This version also notes that Psalm 51 was likely written when Nathan (a prophet) came to King David after he had lusted after a woman named Bathsheba. That is a whole different story. In summary, King David could see Bathsheba bathing from his balcony, lusted after her, called her to the palace, slept with her (all this occurs in (in 2 Samuel 11:2-4). Bathsheba became pregnant. King David called her husband (Uriah) from the battlefield and spoke with him, but Uriah refused to return home to his wife (Bathsheba). For this reason, King David, had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, sent to the most violent part of the battlefield so that he would be killed (see 2 Samuel 11:14-15).

Their first child did not survive, but Bathsheba went on to have a child named Solomon, who went on to become a great king. Bathsheba is identified as Solomon’s mother in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. She is referred to as “Uriah’s wife,” but is one of only five women listed, in contrast to forty men. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary are the others. Each of these women have their own unique stories, which we will talk about on a different day, but for now let’s continue with Psalm 51.

Verse 3 reads, “Wash away my guilt; and cleanse from my sin.” This request for redemption is repeated in verses 9-10, “Turn Your face away from my sins/and blot out all my guilt./God, create a clean heart for me/and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Verse 14 continues, “Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God,/the God of my salvation,/and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.”

He pleads for forgiveness in verse 4, “Against You – You alone – I have sinned/and done this evil in your sight…” This is repeated in verse 6-7, “Surely You desire integrity in the inner self,/when You teach me wisdom from deep within./Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean/wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”

He ask for relief in verse 8, “Let me hear joy and gladness;/let the bones You have crushed rejoice.” Towards the end of the psalm in verse 15, David speaks of praising God. “Lord, open my lips,/and my mouth will declare Your praise.”

We can call out to the Lord to rescue us in times of trouble and he will save each of us. This psalm is a prayer for redemption and praise.

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