First, here is the text of Psalm 51. If you have an interest in learning how to develop a photographic memory so you can read and remember this and the rest of the Bible, click here. Then read on.
Have mercy upon me, O God,
according to thy loving-kindness:
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions:
and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest,
and be clear when thou judgest.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity;
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness;
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence;
and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free Spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;
and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God,
thou God of my salvation:
and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
O Lord, open thou my lips;
and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
For thou desirest not sacrifice;
else would I give it:
thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
a broken and a contrite heart, O God,
thou wilt not despise.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion:
build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
with burnt offering and whole burnt offering:
then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
This Psalm was written by King David after he perpetrated one of the most terrible sins in human history. He murdered the husband of Bathsheba so that he could have her for himself. David was a very revered and loved king and made sure his people were treated well and fairly. As king, David began the task of gathering materials so that by the time his son was king, a new temple for the Jewish people could be built. David was loved by the people because they believed that god looked with favor upon David and helped him to defeat many enemies of the Jewish People. These victories were not just thought to be of one people defending themselves against an aggressor. It was believed that God was using his chosen people to punish others who had turned their back on him to worship idols. As the surrounding nations were conquered, the Jewish people had acquired all of the land that God promised in his covenant with Abraham. It was during the war years when David remained in Jerusalem and the troops were off to war, that David entered into a sinful relationship.
One evening, David was up on the roof of his home and he was a woman in the distance who caught his eye. She was bathing and she was very beautiful. He ask one of his staff who this woman was and they told him that her name was Bathsheba who was married to Uriah, a soldier who was fighting for David outside of the country. David should have been strong and have resisted the temptation to make a move on the married beauty. Instead he had her escorted to his palace where he had intimate relations with her. It is not clear whether it was rape or a mutual consent. From that experience, Bathsheba became pregnant and told David that it was his baby.
An embarrassed David, the leader of all people of Israel, had committed one of the gravest sins by entering into an adulterous relationship with his own soldier’s wife. And to make things worse, she was going to have King David’s child. How, David thought, could he cover-up this sin. He decided to send for Uriah from the battlefront to visit his wife and to let everyone think he was the father of her baby.
But when Uriah came home to Jerusalem, he refused to visit Bathsheba. He remained with King David and slept with his servants. Uriah was so concerned about his fellow soldiers that he would not enjoy the pleasure of being with his wife because none of the other soldiers were able to sleep with their wives.
David was in a panic because he did not want Uriah to find out through gossip that Bathsheba was pregnant with a child that was not his own. David did not want Uriah to every know that the baby was his.
Next, David did a very bad thing. He wrote a letter and sealed it in an envelope, to his commander on the battlefield, Joab. The letter was hand delivered by Uriah to Joab. The letter instructed Joab to send Uriah to the front lines of battle and to abandon him there to be killed in action by the enemy. David was trying to make sure that Uriah was killed and would never return to Jerusalem and to Bathsheba. And Uriah was killed on the battlefield. Telling Joab to not feel guilty because many soldiers die in combat, David treated Uriah’s death as if it were a normal casualty of a brutal war.
A year later, Nathan the prophet was sent by God to speak with David. He gave David a message from God saying that David had broken God’s commandments and that God would punish David by giving him family problems for the rest of his life. David was very remorseful and he repented. He admitted his sins and said that he deserves whatever punishment god will hand out to him. He begs God to go easy on him. He wants God to forgive him and to restore him to his good graces. When he is convinced that God has forgiven him, David takes on the role of evangelist and preaches to other how good the Lord really is.
The story of David is one of the more important stories of the Old Testament. It reflects how far even great men can stray from God and the steps it takes to sincerely appeal for God’s mercy and forgiveness. There is much comfort for us in the Bible. I’ve found a way to improve my memory so that I can read and remember more of what the Bible has to offer. This can work for you too.
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