He Wanted Israel To Sing About His Sin

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” (Psalms 51:1)

He Wanted Israel To Sing About His Sin

The story of David, king of Israel, is defined by two events. First, his incredible faith in standing against Goliath while the army of Israel cowered in fear is an example of the power of God working through a young man to defeat the enemies of the Lord. Second, David’s complete failure in adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. It is to the sin with Bathsheba the failure of the human spirit is so clearly defined. David was a man after God’s own heart, and this man of faith allowed an innocent occasion to become something that would ruin his life.

David was the psalmist of Israel, writing thousands of poetic stories of faith, courage, hope, revenge, justice, and a host of topics. Two psalms stand out that tells the story of his struggle with adultery and murder. Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 declare the internal struggles of guilt that accompany sin and the joy of forgiveness in the grace of God. The Hebrew canon contains headers in many of the psalms included by the organizers of the Psalms. Psalm 32 has no inscription, but the psalm is strongly viewed as a reflection on the weight of sin experienced by David and the soothing grace of God’s love to forgive him. In Psalm 51, the Holy Spirit includes the heading showing the psalm was written when Nathan the prophet came to him after he committed adultery and murdered Uriah. A child was born from the adulterous liaison.

David’s faith is defined in Psalm 51. The psalm is one of the most powerful testimonies of scripture. It is a self-examination of how far sin will take a godly man. David opens his heart in the psalm to tell God of his sorrow and remorse. He no longer hides in the shadows with his guilt of adultery and murder. David knows he has brought shame and disgrace to the Lord God he serves. His heart is broken. He comes to God with a broken and contrite heart and begs the Lord to execute His goodness in whatever fashion He designs.

Reading Psalm 51 will bring tears to the eye. The heart will fill with grief over the sorrow of sin. There is one element of the psalm that is overlooked. Nearly three thousand years have passed since David wrote the psalm. Saints of God have read this psalm for centuries. When David wrote the psalm about his personal failure, he gave the psalm to the Chief Musician to be heralded among the people of God as a testimony to his own failure and a message of hope for those who faced the same dilemma. There are many musical notes found in the psalms that scholars are unsure of their meaning. One thing is clear in this psalm: David wanted the Chief Musician to include this story in the worship literature.

Faith is a declaration of the glory of God. Psalm 51 is not about David but the grace of God. It was not the desire of David to boast of his exploits. He was fully ashamed of his actions and lived the consequences for the rest of his life. But he never lost his faith. Was there a time when David went to worship, and the Chief Musician chose Psalm 51 as the message of the day? When David heard this psalm, how did it impact his heart when he listened to those crying words of pain, regret, and sorrow? David wanted Israel – all of Israel – to know of his personal grief and to learn from his failure. Throughout the many centuries, Psalm 51 has been sung, and hearts have been changed to walk away from sin, seek the grace of God, and learn the consequences of sin. David gave the psalm to the Chief Musician. What a great statement of faith.

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