David's Prayer of Repentance


You probably know that David fell into terrible sin. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the murder of her husband, Uriah. Today, we’re going to consider David’s prayer of repentance.

Bible Reading

Psa 51:1-4 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (2) Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (3) For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. (4) 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.


David held on to his sin for a long time. If you read the account carefully, you’ll see it was close to a year before he repented. When the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sin, David repented. He expressed his repentance in the song that we know as Psalm 51. Today’s Bible reading contains a portion of that Psalm. I don’t have time to go into the depth I’d like to on this Psalm, but here are a few highlights.
David sought God’s mercy. He didn’t make any excuses for his sin. He didn’t try to use past good behavior to offset his present wrong doing. He didn’t appeal to anything in his own character. Instead, he threw himself on the mercy of God. He trusted in God’s lovingkindness.
David specifically asked for cleansing from his sin. Later, God promised to forgive and cleanse those who confess their sins:

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

David acknowledged his sin. David didn’t call it a slip, or an indiscretion. He didn’t deny, minimize, make excuses for his sin. He simply admitted it to God. I think the point of his statement that his sin was ever before him is an even deeper admission. “I knew this was wrong, and it was always on my mind, but I didn’t repent,” is his point, I think. Not only was he wrong to sin, but he was wrong to resist his conscience and conviction and refuse to repent.
David confessed that his sin was, first and most, against God. Yes, he sinned against others. Yes, his conduct was a blot on his nation because it was his leader. But, ultimately, his sin was against God, Himself.

What About You?

  • Have you been under conviction because of some sin you haven’t repented of?
  • Are you resisting the conviction of your conscience and the Holy Spirit?
  • Have you denied, minimized, or made excuses for your sin?

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