Sermon Note


Psalm 51

Speaker: Rev James Chan
(Message preached on 10 Feb 2008)

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1.          The Life of David.

a.          At the height of his power, David committed a grievous sin.

b.         What sin did David commit?

(1)        David had an affair with Bathsheba.

(2)        David tried very hard to cover his sinful deed.

c.          Anyone who had committed such sin would be in great trouble.           

2.         Psalm 51 pictures David’s confession of sin.

a.          He was overwhelmed with guilt. Under this weight of guilt, David pleaded to God for mercy.

b.         The whole Psalm 51 is about confession.

3.         Confession of sin is one of the essential keys to spiritual growth.

            It is part and parcel of our Christian life.

a.          What happens if one tries to cover-up?

(1)        He will forfeit God’s blessing in his life.

Proverbs 28:13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

(2)        Physical illness may be the result of covering up.

David testified this in Psalm 32:3-4:

When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.

(3)        The one who covers his sin in this life will be uncovered in the next life.

(a)           According to Jesus, the day of judgement is coming, and every sin will be revealed.       

        Luke 12:2-3For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 

            Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

(b)          God will judge all sins that have been covered up, and all sins that are hidden will be revealed (Rev 20).

b.         But the sin that is confessed in this life, and cleansed by the blood of Christ will not be exposed again. 

        1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

He has removed them from us as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).

c.          Each of us, regardless of who we are, stands where David stood.

(1)        The Bible tells us that if we look with lust, we are guilty.

            (2)        But the good news is, we can know of God’s forgiveness.

(3)        Let us now look at Psalm 51 which gives us the steps leading to the joy of forgiveness. 


This is one of the seven penitential psalms (Ps 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 & 143).

1.       In this psalm, David did not make any excuse for his sin.

He took all the blame. It’s “me” and “mine” – all the way through.

(a)        He talks about “mine iniquity” (v29), “my sin” (v2b), “my transgressions” (v3a).

(b)        He did not blame the circumstances, society or his human weakness.

(c)        All of these factors may have played a part in David’s sin.

(d)        He assumed full responsibility.

2.         I am very sinful (51:1, 2)

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

a.             David cries for mercy out of the anguish of his heart (v1).

b.             He uses three great words for sin.

(1)           Transgression” – overstepping and breaking of God’s law.

(2)          Iniquity” – perversity, unrighteousness.

(3)          Sin” – missing the mark.

c.             He knows that forgiveness alone was insufficient.

(1)           So, he pleaded to God to “blot out” his transgressions (51:1b).

The word “blot out” means to wipe away (cf Ex 32:32; Num 5:23).

(2)          Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity” (51:2a).

The word “wash” is connected with the laundering of clothes.

(3)          Cleanse me from my sin (51:2b).

(a)           The word he used for “cleanse” is a ritual term for pronouncing a leper who was ceremonially clean.

(b)          David looked at himself again; he saw a disease – a deadly and incurable disease. 

(c)        He needs to be cleansed from that disease.

3.       I am very sorry (51:3-6).

a.             David cannot escape from his sin (v3).

(1)           He is unable to escape from the consciousness of guilt.

(2)          Now, he turned around and confessed before God:

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”

b.             No matter how much David has sinned against others (specifically against Bathsheba and Uriah), in reality his sin was primarily against God.

(1)           He confessed “Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” (51:4a)

(2)          In fact, he broke all the commandments that refer to man’s duty to his neighbour.

(3)        So, we see that David had sinned against God’s command.

He had sinned against the holy God.

c.          He accepted God’s verdict of his sin without any complaint.

(1)        He said, “that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” (51:4b)

(2)        He was saying, “God, you are absolutely justified in any sentence You hand down, and no one can find fault with Your verdict.” 


1.         Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean…” (51:7a)


a.          David felt contaminated.

b.         He wanted to be purged with hyssop (51:7a).

            David asked God to sprinkle him so that he will become even whiter than snow (Isa 1:18).

c.             Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (51:7b).

(1)                 It is a thorough and repeated scrubbing, a complete cleansing from the pollution and the power of sin.

(2)                 Today’s believers find their cleansing in the work of Christ, accomplished on the cross (1 Jn 1:7, 9).



1.             Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (51:12).

In other words, David asked that God would let him have the peace and joy he had with Him again.

2.             Perhaps, you have lost the joy that you had with God before. Pray as David did, for restoration.



He wanted to regain his ministry and lead his people.

1.             He wanted to witness to others.

He said, “I will teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (51:13).                                 

2.             He wanted to praise God for what He has done.

a.          He said, “My tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness, and shall shew forth thy praise” (51:14b, 15b).

b.         But once the Lord set him free he wanted to serve the Lord and to praise His holy name.

c.          What He had done for David, He can also do for you.

3.         Conclusion

(1)        Are you living a defeated life?

(2)        God’s forgiveness is available to you.

If you ask Him, He will restore you again.


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