David wrote this psalm for the music leader.
It was when the prophet Nathan came to him, after David had sex with Bathsheba.
Please forgive me, Lord #51:1 David wrote this psalm after he had done something very bad. Then God's prophet Nathan came to David and he warned David. In the end, David was very sorry for the bad things that he had done. He asked God to forgive him. See 2 Samuel 11—12.
1Please forgive me, God,
because of your special love.
Because you are so kind,
please clean away my sins.
2I have done bad things,
so wash me to make me clean again. #51:2 David knows that sin makes him guilty in front of God. It is like he is dirty, so he wants God to wash away the bad things. Then he will be clean.
3I know that I have not obeyed you.
I cannot forget that I am guilty.
4It is you that I have done bad things against,
only you! #51:4 The most important thing is that David did not obey God's laws. He did do bad things that also hurt other people, like Uriah. But David realizes that, more than anything else, it is God that he has turned against.
I have done things that are evil,
as you know.
And so you are fair when you speak against me.
You are right when you say that I am guilty.
5Yes, even from the day I was born
I have done bad things.
I have always been guilty of sin.
6But you want me to be completely good and honest.
You want to teach me to be wise
in the way that I live.
7 Splash water over me with a hyssop plant,
and I will be really clean. #51:7 See Exodus 12:22; Leviticus 14:4-6,49-52; Numbers 19:6-18. Hyssop was a plant that the Israelites used to splash blood or water on things as a sign that God would make them pure.
Wash me and I will be whiter than snow. #51:7 Whiter than snow means ‘very pure and clean.’
8Please forgive me so that I can be happy again.
Then my whole body will feel better.
9Hide your face from my sins.
Clean away all the bad things that I have done. #51:9 Hide your face means ‘look away from me’.
10God, please make my heart new and clean.
And make my spirit strong and true,
deep inside me.
11Do not send me away from you.
Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me.
12Give me joy again,
because you have made me safe.
Make me strong and ready to obey you.
13Then I will teach your ways
to people who have turned against you.
Then sinners will turn back
and they will obey you.
14God, I am guilty of murder.
Please forgive me!
You are the one who saves me.
When you rescue me,
I will sing aloud about your righteousness.
15My Lord, help me to speak,
and then I will praise you.
16I would be happy to offer sacrifices to you,
but that is not what you really want.
You do not want a burnt offering from me.
17You want me to be humble and sorry.
That is the sacrifice that you want.
When people are humble
and they turn away from their sins,
you will not refuse them.
18God, please be kind and help Zion.
Make the walls of Jerusalem strong again.
19Then you will accept our proper sacrifices.
Our burnt offerings and sacrifices of whole animals
will make you happy.
Once again, people will offer bulls to you,
on your altar. #51:19 When people were humble and they were sorry for their sins, then God would accept their sacrifices.