On Psalm 51—Part 5

A person who disobeys the Lord does not have a good relationship with him. In particular, he does not have the joy that comes from the Lord. The Lord Jesus spoke on this topic in Jn 15. He said " ... continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (Jn 15:9-10). Then he added "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (Jn 15:11). Consequently, one has joy from the Lord when he obeys him. In the context of Ps 51, because of sin, David no longer had the joy of salvation. Thus, he prayed that the Lord would bring it back to him.

(Ps 51:12) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

A better translation would be "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and a willing spirit will uphold me".

(Ps 51:13)MKJV Then I will teach transgressors Your ways; and sinners shall be converted to You.

The Lord is pleased when sinners repent. "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live ... " (Eze 33:11).

(Ps 51:14) Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

According to lexicons, the literal meaning of the word translated "sing aloud" is "shout with joy". This verse relates forgiveness to the ability of declaring God's righteousness. God gives this ability, as we read also in the following verse.

(Ps 51:15) O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

Declaring God's praises is a good work. As mentioned in 2Ti 2:21, if one cleanses himself, "he will be a vessel for honor, having been consecrated and useful to the Master, having been prepared for every good work"EMTV.

(Ps 51:16)ESV For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
(Ps 51:17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

In verse 16, the word translated "for" introduces one reason the prayer of Ps 51 was made. Outward sacrifices could not help David. He needed to submit himself completely to God, that is, to offer the "sacrifice" of a broken spirit and of a broken and contrite heart. Moreover, he had to ask for God's mercy.

Sin affects not only the person who commits it, but also those around. Jos 7 could be used to illustrate this point. In Jos 7, the Lord was no longer helping Israel because of the sin of Achan and of his family (Jos 7:12). Consequently, Israel suffered a military defeat (Jos 7:4-5). When Achan's sin was revealed, Joshua told him "Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day" (Jos 7:25). Just as Achan's sin caused trouble to Israel, so also David's sin caused trouble not only to David but also to other people (2Sa 12:10-12). Thus, David prayed for those around him. He prayed for Zion and for Jerusalem. Zion was the hill on which his palace was built. Jerusalem was the city in which he lived.

(Ps 51:18) Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

In the verse above, the Hebrew word for "walls" might be used figuratively, in reference to spiritual defenses. For instance, Pr 25:28 states that "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls" (Pr 25:28). Thus, Ps 51:18 could be seen as a request that God would bless spiritually the people. When the spiritual condition of the people was good, their sacrifices were acceptable to God.

(Ps 51:19) 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.

Under the old covenant, the Lord required sacrifices. However, sacrifices were acceptable when the worshipers were obedient to God. "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight" (Pr 15:8). "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination" (Pr 28:9). "For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you" (Jer 7:22-23).

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