Scripture Memory: Psalm 51

Sin is an aspect of life with which we all need to contend. Humans are fallible; they commit wrongs. They hurt each other with intent, and they hurt God without remorse. We do these things because we are born into brokenness, internally within our souls and externally within the world around us. For some individuals, this is not a problem. This is just the way things are.

For me, this is hard. I hate my sin, both the thoughts and the actions. I hate to hurt others; I hate to hurt to God, and I hate that I do both so flippantly and so often. Though I strive for excellence, though I long to live righteously, my sinful heart continues to show how badly I am in need of God’s grace and mercy.

This reality leads me to Psalm 51 time and time and time again. In the past month, I’ve dedicated this Psalm to memory (again, in song, which I will refrain from sharing for the benefit of your ears), and I have had to sing it in confession on more than one day since cementing it in my mind. Psalm 51 is a Psalm of David following his lusting toward Bathsheba, taking her as his wife, and murdering her husband Uriah. Despite the egregious actions and events leading to this psalm’s composition, the text itself is beautiful:


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy 

blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!


For I know my transgressions, 

and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you may be justified in your words 

and blameless in your judgement.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, 

and in sin did my mother conceive me. 

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, 

and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 


Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; 

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 

Let me hear joy and gladness; 

let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 

Hide your face from my sins, 

and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

 and renew a right spirit within me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation 

and uphold me with a willing spirit. 


Then I will reach trangressors your ways, 

and sinners will return to you. 

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, 

O God of my salvation, 

and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 

O Lord, open my lips, 

and my mouth will declare your praise. 

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; 

you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; 

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; 

build up the walls of Jerusalem; 

then will you delight in right sacrifices, 

in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; 

then bulls will be offered on your altar. 


I could dissect and deconstruct this psalm for pages, but I won’t today. I will simply leave you with a question. Does your sin wound you to your core like it wounded David? Granted, David wrote this after some truly despicable deeds: lust, adultery, and murder. His sins were grievous and had horrific consequences. But ours do also, perhaps not to the same degree but certainly to some degree. His sin led him into grief, contrition, and utter brokenness before God. Where does your sin lead you?
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”