Psalm 51: Cleanse Me

(written by Emily Matthews)

Do you ever really screw up? Like, really blow it? (A.K.A. sin?)

Yeah, me too.

My favorite way to really blow it is by losing my temper. I am a hot head. I am kinda like “Anger” from the movie Inside Out. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does … it is a spectacle. I’ve kicked a hole in my own wall (I know, I know … I’m an idiot) and I am currently missing a drawer in my kitchen because I broke it in anger.

In addition to losing my cool physically, I’ve been known to run my mouth and say unkind things.

Anyone else’s mouth get you in trouble? Well, if so, we have something. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to share yours’ with the whole internet. (You’re welcome. *wink*)

David was also familiar with screwing up. He was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), but he was also a sinner. Psalm 51 gives us some great advice on to do when we blow it. Psalm 51 is David’s humble prayer and is in the Lament genre.

David wrote this psalm 5after what was possibly his biggest screw up of all time.

He slept with his friend’s wife, Bathsheba, and (of course) she got pregnant. Then later he had his friend killed to cover it up. Some not-so fantastic choices by David.

But, because God is awesome, Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon and God never left his side.

So even if we didn’t sin like David, we can still apply Psalm 51 when we blow it and sin.


First, David confesses that he sinned and then asks for forgiveness (cleansing).

Against you, you only, have I sinned… (Psalm 51:4)

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow (51:7)

(I looked it up for you – hyssop was a plant in the mint family used for cooking, herbal medicine and purification.)

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. (51: 10-12)

I think it is important to notice who does the cleansing. It is not David trying to clean himself up or try harder.

God is the one who does the cleansing. He creates a pure heart. He renews your spirit.

So, we should stop trying to clean ourselves up. God will do it. You will probably just make a bigger mess if you try to do God’s work for him.

Then, David praises God and says he will teach others about God (share).

Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. (51:15)
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. (51:13)

Teaching other sinners about God’s ways is part of our testimony. It is part of our faith journey. If a man like David can be used, God can use all of us. And not only was David used by God, but Jesus was brought to earth through his lineage. How cool is that??

So, next time you think you have totally blown it, remember Psalm 51 and David’s prayer. Then let it be your prayer, too.

confess –> be cleansed & renewed –> praise & share with others


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