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Daily Devotional Psalm 51:1–19

When we confess, we admit guilt and acknowledge our sin. Repentance takes confession a step further. When we repent, we are asking for forgiveness and changing of direction, turning from evil and running toward good. Both confession and repentance are acts of love.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.

PSALM 51:1

Psalm 51 gives us a model of both confession and repentance. In David’s song, we see how we too can be cleansed and restored. The psalm begins with David’s plea to God for forgiveness (vv. 1–2). He appeals to the Lord’s mercy, compassion, and love. As is common in Hebrew poetry and song, a similar idea is repeated, using different words. Taken all together, David’s three verbs for “wash,” his three nouns for “sin,” and his three acknowledgments of God’s character communicate a deep and total cry for God and confidence in His cleansing power.

In verses 3–6, David admits what He has done wrong. He had sinned against God. David is aware of his wrongdoings and takes responsibility for them. No excuses. No justification. Just confession. He has sinned—not only against other people, in this case, Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Sam. 11–12). David has primarily sinned against God. He also acknowledges that his sin is rooted in his very nature and has been present in him since birth (v. 5).

In the next section, David asks the Lord again to cleanse him and restore their intimacy (vv. 7–12), which is the source of true joy and sustainable strength. The Psalm finishes with a public proclamation. David’s repentance and reinstatement are not for his sake alone. As King, he commits to teaching others this same path back to God. And he prays for Zion to prosper and Jerusalem to be rebuilt. In other words, he prays for God’s people to be restored to their right standing with Him.

Go Deeper

Do you have a regular routine of confession and repentance? What is God asking you to confess right now?

Pray with Us:

Together with the Psalmist we cry out to You today: “Have mercy on me, O God”! We confess our sins and repent. Forgive us, we pray, and restore to us the joy of Your salvation.

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