So, since all three of you wanted to discuss Psalm 51, I thought I give you a little background about it–knowing backstory can be key in a lot of biblical study, but it’s also frequently completely gravy.
Psalm 51 is subtitled “A Psalm of David”. David was one of the top 3 kings in Isreal’s history (Saul, David, and Solomon are the trifecta)–and as anyone who has ever watched a Mel Brook’s movie knows: it’s good to be the king. One day, Dave was catching a cool breeze on the roof of his palace, looked across the way, and happened to see a fine young thing bathing on her roof. Her name was Bathsheba, and David sent her to come over to the palace of dinner and (in all likelihood) a little boot knocking.
Catch? Bathsheba was married.
Catch number two? Her husband (Uriah) was away fighting in a war.
Catch number three? Bathsheba ends up preggers. Uriah will TOTALLY know it’s not his, because he’s not been home, which means that Bathsheba will probably be stoned to death as an adultress (never mind that the king commanded her–it’s always the woman’s fault. Some things never change.).
So David tries to cover his tracks, by sending for Uriah to “get a report” on how the war is going, and then tries to send him home to wash his feet (interesting biblical side note? Frequently in the old testament, “feet” is used as a euphamism for male genitalia). Uriah won’t go–he stays close by his king, and doesn’t go to his lovely young wife sleeping just a few yards away.
So, since Uriah wouldn’t cooperate and wash his feet with his wife, David sent Uriah to the place of heaviest fighting, and Uriah was killed.
David is trying to pretend that he’s all cool about it, and that if he ignores it, it will go away (again: some things never change), but the prophet Nathan tells a little story one night about a ewe lamb that a rich man stole from a poor man, and Dave gets all kinds of pissed off and announces that he will go and find the jerk who stole a poor man’s lamb when he could have gone and bought a lamb for himself and make him pay, and Nathan (always in high dramatic fashion in my head) points (also always in my head) to David and thunders, “You are the man!” And David realizes that he’s caught in his infidelity, that everyone knows about it, and he repents (because people tend only to repent from things when they feel like they’ve been caught in their mistake–some things never change).
If you want a less Cliff-notey version, feel free to look up the story in 2 Samuel 11. You can probably find in on-line by just typing 2 Samuel 11 in a search engine. God, I love technology. 🙂
Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon
To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgement.
5Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
6You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
17The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
So, maybe a good place to start would be to find out if there’s anything in particular you WANT to ask about the psalm, or anything that stands out to you, or words that are particularly important to you–and if not, then I can just start holding forth. 😉