This psalm can be seen as a sequel to Psalm 51. In it David is thanking God for the forgiveness that he has received for the wickedness that he had done regarding his adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12).
David had stayed home instead of going out to battle. His idleness gave him opportunity to sin against the Lord. As he watched Bathsheba bathing herself from a distance he grew in lust for her. The fact that she was a married woman did not deter him from committing adultery with her.
When he found that Bathsheba had become pregnant David connived to make it appear that her husband, Uriah the Hittite, was the father of the baby. David arranged for Uriah to be sent home from the war with the Ammonites, but Uriah refused to sleep with his wife while his comrades were fighting in the battle. He tried to get Uriah so drunk that he would go home to his wife, but still he remained at the king’s door. King David realised that his deceit was not going to work so needed a scheme to settle this situation once and for all. His wickedness grew worse and so arranged for Uriah to be sent right to the frontline so that he would be killed in war. Though this happened as he planned, David actually committed murder on an innocent and faithful man. Added to this, he also implicated Joab in his scheme to get rid of Uriah. Now that he was dead Bathsheba was free to marry again. The impression here is that all this happened relatively quickly so that it would appear that the baby was produced within wedlock, if so David’s sin was spreading all the time.
For over nine months David did not show any remorse for the evil he had committed. It is possible that Nathan the prophet came to David about the time of the child’s birth to emphasise the seriousness of the sin and to reveal an obvious sign of God’s displeasure. During this time David must have thought that his sin was completely unknown to anyone else but Joab. He thought that he had covered all his tracks. He had not considered that God saw everything that he had done.
Nathan came to David with a story about a rich man who stole a poor man’s only lamb so that he could provide a feast for a friend. David declared that the man who did such wickedness would die. Probably because of the lapse of nine months he did not see any personal application in this story. But David realise that the game was up when Nathan told him, “You are the man.” The prophet detailed exactly what David had done. He revealed that judgement must come and everyone one will know about his secret sin.
Though the king did repent for all that he had done, the baby was going to be taken by
the Lord. David truly repented and had a deep sense of shame and humiliation. In Psalm 51:3-4 we hear him crying out, “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.” God restored David and he became a righteous man of God.
1: Prayer of the Pardoned (:1-2)
2: Confession of sin (:3-5)
3: Forgiveness available to all (:6-7)
4: God’s voice (:8-9)
5: Two classes of men (:10-11)
a) It is God’s will to forgive anyone who will repent and turn to Him in faith (:1-2). There are those who think that they have committed a sin too great for God to forgive, but David is proof that God can cleanse us from any sin through the blood of Christ. This part of the message of the Gospel must be taken to the lost. The same truth can be applied to the backslidden believer also. There are many backsliders who feel that God cannot receive them back. David is a living example of the Prodigal Son who came to his senses and returned to his father. We can remind backsliders that there are few people who have ever committed the wickedness of David. If God accepted him, then He will accept all that return to Him.
b) Forgiveness is a part of God’s nature revealed in Jesus Christ. Not only does He completely remove the stain of sin from our lives, but He also erases all records of our transgressions (:2,5). The guilt and the condemnation are also taken away. It is as though God wipes the slate clean and gives us a fresh start. God’s forgiveness removes every trace of sin.
c) Receiving forgiveness is valueless if we are not willing to commit our ways unto the Lord (:6). He wants to guide us through our lives by His word, but this is hindered if there is no determination to obey the Lord. There are those who accept forgiveness (and salvation) but think that they can continue in sin and come back to the Lord for forgiveness any time they please. This is not the heart of a truly saved believer. A real Christian is committed to the Lord.
d) Though the message of salvation and forgiveness must be taken to everyone, we must understand that there are always going to be those who are too stubborn to repent (:9-10). Such people are asking for God’s judgement.
e) As believers we must honour God in all of our ways. He wants to direct us according to His ways (:8), He wants to protect us with His mercy (:10). This means that we must be willing to do things God’s way. Surely if He has forgiven us our sins we should be grateful enough to serve Him.