Psalm 51

Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) was a British born author, journalist, and media personality. Later in life he became an advocate for Christianity.

He once related an occasion when on assignment in India of leaving his hotel for a swim in the nearby river. As he entered the water, he saw a woman across the river from nearby village who came for her bath.

Although he loved his wife, and had always been faithful, he somehow felt the impulse of the moment. As he struggled with the temptation, he began to furiously swim to the other side. As he neared the woman, she rose up out of the water and he gasped.

Muggeridge wrote, “She was old and hideous…and her skin was wrinkled and, worst of all, she was a leper….This creature grinned at me, showing a toothless mask.”

The experience left Muggeridge trembling and muttering under his breath, “What a dirty, lecherous woman!” But then the rude shock of it dawned upon him—it was not the woman who was lecherous; it was his own heart.

The author of Psalm 51, King David, saw a women taking a bath, but the results were drastically different. Though he is identified in the Bible, as “a man after God’s own heart,” his heart strayed. He was attracted to her. He lusted for her. And committed adultery with her.

When she reported she was pregnant. He tried to cover his sin, by bringing her husband, Uriah, home from fighting in the army, but he wouldn’t sleep with his wife. Then David contrived a plan to have him killed in battle. Following the news of his death, David took Bathsheba to be his wife. Problem solved (2 Sam. 11:1-27).

However, God wasn’t finished with him yet.  The Bible says, “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”  So He sent Nathan the prophet and confronted David. Nathan’s heart touching story caused David to admit, “I have sinned” (2 Sam. 12:1-14).

In Psalm 51 David writes about his guilt, sorrow, and heart-break. It’s a penitent Psalm seeking restoration and forgiveness. Consider David’s poignant plea.


“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.”

David’s heart felt plea was not because he simply messed up. Or made a mistake. Or used poor judgment. David sinned. He sinned against God. And he fervently prayed, “Wash me.” “Cleanse me.” “Purge me.”

Sin is serious. Sin stains the soul. Defiles the heart. And separates us from God. When we sin, we need cleansing that only God can provide.


“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”

Can one recover from moral failure and be restored? Absolutely! You can come back. You can return to the Lord. David did.

There’s nothing too hard for the Lord to forgive. He is merciful. Loving. And forgiving. G. Campbell Morgan expressed it this way. “This great song, pulsating with the agony of a sin-stricken soul, helps us to understand the stupendous wonder of the everlasting mercy of our God.”


“Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.”

Not only can you be cleansed and restored, God can use you once again to serve Him. Out of the ashes of sin and guilt, others can be taught. A bad experience can be used to help those who are ridden with guilt, and struggling to find help and hope. And to show them the pathway to forgiveness.

The account of David’s failure offers us hope when things seem hopeless. It shows that there is light beyond the darkness of sin. It reveals to us that restoration is possible. That forgiveness can be obtained. And that our relationship with God can be reconciled.

Like David, Muggeridge was able to admit his heart had strayed. Can you? Can I?

The Good News is that when we repent and return to God He can restore the wayward heart, cleanse the lustful heart, and purge the lecherous heart.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Passage To Ponder, Psalms

3 responses to “Psalm 51

  1. Linda Robbins

    Thanks for your thoughts on this today.


  2. Pingback: Weekly Recap: March 27-31 | ThePreachersWord

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