Psalm 51:6-9, Give Me Back My Joy


5 “For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.”

Psalm 51:5-9, NLT

These five verses press us with their intensity. We are starting to develop a true idea of the doctrine of repentance. As fallen people, we sub-consciously erode the ‘hard things’ that rub us the wrong way. Most of us still hold on the idea that we’re basically pretty good people. That dear one, is a lie.

King David commits adultery with Bathsheba. She is now pregnant. Her husband is a general in David’s army. David hatches a plan to save his neck. He conspires to have Uriah murdered after trying very hard to get him to have sexual relations with Bathsheba.

This man who wrote so beautifully Psalm 23 is really evil to the core.


V.6,  But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.”

To be very honest, King David reveals a understanding of Gods love and mercy is directed at him. There is no escape, he must take it as he squirms out of trouble. But to be honest, he doesn’t have a clue.

His honesty is remarkable. All that proceeds from a close place, is true and sure. He is thinking that “wisdom” comes from a certain place. He can only accept and turn, directly clean;

 “wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

All of this comes out of the “deep presence of God.” The “whiteness” does come, at a specific moment in time. We do must come into a certain place, where we meet His active presence.

V. 8, “Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice.”

True brokenness will lead us through so much darkness and foolishness.  It seems we can only pretend, but never recover the amazing awareness of God, coming into His presence. We really understand this, or accept a presence quite beyond us.

V. 9, “Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.”

Somehow David understands how things work. His sin has become “front-line” news. Adultery and murder are definite “tipping points” that David can try only to explain.

David does feel a certain remorse. All that He brings, is something, an awareness of what is real.

ybic, Bryan


Psalm 51:3-5, Recognize the Rebel Within

3 “For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.[a]
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”

Psalm 51:3-5, NLT

In this life, we must understand our inner rebellion and  sin. We had better accept and agree with God on this basic matter. If we really are going to be truthful people we have to really focus on this fundamental understanding of our own depravity.

This is the first of seven of Psalms we call “penitential.” It is probably the best known of these seven. Psalm 51 can be broken down into subcategories. Of course, the title precisely cues us in the time David met with Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-14.


V. 3, “ “For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.”

David doesn’t cling to false platitudes. He is not deceived by creating a new image. He doesn’t care a whit about public relations. It may seem like he is being a little hard on himself. There are some that suggest that David may be too morbid, too moody. But you try to commit adultery, and than murder, then you can judge the entire scene.

But David has looked into a mirror, and he’s stepped away from it. He cannot forget what he saw. He sees his “rebellion” for what it really is– that he is warped and twisted. David can’t shake off this sense of shame and grief. He has committed adultery which has led to murder of one of his best generals.

V. 4, “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.

All of our sins are against God. Failure to see this results in a repentance that is premature, and deficient. This inadequate repentance will not change you, but only makes you feel somewhat better.

There is no doubt that David sinned terribly against Bathsheba, and her husband Uriah. What he did to them was so wrong, on so many levels. But, what about God? David’s selfishness, greed, lust offended God. Perhaps we need to tweak our concepts. The higher in status and power a person is, the greater the offense. All sin is sin against a holy God.

What David believed is that God could say what God wanted about him, and it would be right and true, for God cannot be otherwise. But rather than stubbornly avoiding God, David sees the positive and he chooses to honor God by his authentic repentance.

V. 5,For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”

David is not saying that his mother was immoral. Rather he is recognizing the depth of his own sin. (He knows who he is, he’s got this tattoo, “Born to Sin” on his biceps.)

ybic, Bryan

Psalm 51:1-2, Learning How to Repent

“For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.”

1 “Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
    Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.”

Psalm 51:1-2, NLT

I’m starting to realize that if you’re not right with God, you’re wrong in everything else. I’m pretty sure that David felt the strain of his sin. Committing adultery and murder will leave its indelible mark.

This psalm is addressed to God. Actually, I’m a bit surprised that we can even read this, as it is quite intimate. But perhaps David realized his sin was public, and so must his repentance be. Too many people knew, and there was no way to put a lid on it.

Repentance is the concentrated activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs.


V.1, Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
    Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.”

Think about it.

  1. David doesn’t make any promises.
  2. David knows God’s heart.
  3. David completely understands the condition of his own heart.

And now he asks for mercy. Mercy is a strong grace that is available to those who know they are rascals. We don’t deserve it. But God bestows it anyway.

I believe that this ‘mercy’ is on a case-by-case basis. Each of us must make this transaction with God. We have this Psalm to guide us into a deeper repentance.

“It’s Satan’s delight to tell me that once he’s got me, he will keep me. But at that moment I can go back to God. And I know that if I confess my sins, God is faithful and just to forgive me.”  Alan Redpath

This undertaking demands everything we have. It should never be sloppy or careless. We shouldn’t try to accelerate through this. We will only be re-routed by the Holy Spirit until we finally “get it.”

V. 2, Wash me clean from my guilt.
        Purify me from my sin.”

“Clean before my Lord, I stand. Not one blemish does He see.” There are so many who need to spend time on God’s washboard. Now is your time to be fully cleansed.

Repentance is a daily work because we commit sins everyday. There are sins of commission and of omission. We all do wrong things, and we also miss things we should have done.

“That is why the Lord says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
 Give me your hearts.
 Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.”

Joel 2:12, NLT

ybic, Bryan

Psalm 3:1-4: Tricky Currents

A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.

 “Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
There is no help for him in God.”  Selah

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.”  Selah

Psalm 3:1-4, NKJV

There is an unholy tragedy when a son and a father are at odds. Perhaps Absalom believes that David has grown corrupt and wicked, and that he is to take David’s place. There is the matter of David’s secret sin with Bathsheba, and his murder of Uriah. A few years later, Absalom become a murderer himself, I suppose, like father, like son.

Gossip had spread, and many allied themselves with Absalom. Completely losing the support of the people, David took what he could and fled into the Judean Wilderness. David simply could not go to war against his son.

These are Shakespearean themes. And they are very human ones as well. David could be impulsively evil, and yet we can see moments bursting out of light and faith. Perhaps we know people who are much more consistent than David, but few as devout, after all, “He was a man after God’s own heart.”


V. 1, “Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.”

David is quite clear on this, if there is a momentum of the Spirit, there is a riptide as well. It was pulling him out. He couldn’t find the strength or purpose to resist its pull. There was just too many enemies. The current was just too strong to fight.

David must have evaluated, and quickly realizes he is no longer “the Golden Boy of God.” He is universally hated and despised. No one bothers to  see his repentance from adultery and murder. The prophet’s rebuke, and David’s broken heart are hidden from most.

V. 2, “Many are they who say of me,
There is no help for him in God.”  Selah

I am sure that many said the same about me, and I understand being reviled and denounced. Sometimes in theology there really is no room for rascals. I don’t fit in with the “nice people.”

“God! Look! Enemies past counting! Enemies sprouting like mushrooms,
Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery:
“Hah! No help for him from God!” Ps. 3:1-2, (MSG)

It’s easy to set up people in our Churches to “guard” the door (figuratively, of course.) We have found a comfortable spot; we don’t want  to have to move, and we really don’t want any “broken down” old sinners stopping in. Because the Holy Spirit won’t judge, we will!

David is being rejected because the people can’t accept his forgiveness and repentance. His enemies are talking, “Did you hear about David, our king? He murdered Uriah! They whisper to each other, and David becomes “the O.J. Simpson” of his day.

V. 3,  But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

David is clinging to all that he has– God! The ‘postures’ of God are quite amazing. Jehovah protects, and David glorifies. David is aware of his head being lifted up, just like a child. But all that David has working for him, is the Lord God Almighty.

There is such a tenderness, an awareness of being protected, just the word, for shield, has the idea of a shield that encircles. It was like a ‘tube’ of protection for David. He was protected on all sides. This would be David’s only real support. Will it be enough?

V. 4,  I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.”  Selah

Think of responsiveness here. My voice activates Him, and He turns directly to me at the initial sound of my cry. There is bold fact is that He is ‘cued’ into me. He anticipates all that I say. This alone is a wonderful place to be.


Learning from King David’s Mistakes in Fighting Sexual Sin: Excerpt from “Letters from Fawn Creek”

Both Psalm 32 and 51 concern David’s repentance after it came to light that he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and that he lied to cover it up and arranged for the demise of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite, on the battlefield.

Father Augie Lattimore is a Trappist monk and fictional character in Letters from Fawn Creek, who before he became a priest, struggled with substance abuse and sexual addictions. In the excerpt below, he gives his readers some advice on battling sexual sin that would’ve certainly helped King David in his day of testing. Father Lattimore has much more to say beyond this excerpt on this subject, but you’ll have to buy the book to find out. LOL :

In battling a disordered sexuality, one of the obvious things that is so often overlooked is the importance of avoiding the occasion for sin. Another way of saying this is that you cannot sin if you don’t put yourself in the position to sin. You can’t get eaten by a rampaging bear unless you put yourself in close proximity to it. I’m embarrassed to admit how long this took me to learn.

For example, if you’re in a restaurant and there is a very attractive waitress that is causing your mind to go places it shouldn’t, then sit facing the wall. Preferably a wall without a mirror. If you have problems with soft–core pornography late at night on cable TV, then call the cable company and arrange your programming so it’s 100% clean. Or forget cable and TV altogether. Do the same thing with the internet. Put filters on your computer that make it difficult for pornography to come in to you or for you to go to pornography. If you’re traveling on a business trip, only stay in at a motel or hotel that has clean cable programming at night.

Sometimes you may have to end a relationship or get eaten by the bear. This happened to me about six months after I became a Catholic. I began to date a very attractive woman who I thought was on a similar path as mine. After several years in the fashion industry, she had become disillusioned with “Vanity Fair” and was pursuing a more spiritual direction.

She claimed to be a Christian but later said that she had given up on trying to abstain from premarital sex a long time ago because it was simply too hard when she met someone she loved and trusted. Physically, the relationship went too far. Way too far. She had a lot of wonderful qualities, but it became clear that I either would have to end the relationship or be “bear food” as long as I stayed in it.

Being accountable to other men for your sexuality is invaluable in the battle. Even now as a Trappist monk, especially because of my past, I’m accountable to another priest for my thoughts and actions in this arena. If I travel, I will call him and check in and he makes sure I’m staying on the straight and narrow. Men can get in trouble if they are away from home and have time on their hands. The old saying, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop,” didn’t gain currency for nothing.

The primal sexuality within each of us is powerful and it’s helpful to have to answer to someone else besides God: ‘Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor. If one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up’” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)

If you liked this excerpt from Letters from Fawn Creek, you may also want to purchase the book at this link:

Letters from Fawn Creek

Broken Bones

Broken Arm
Broken Arm

“Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.”

Psalm 51:8, KJV

“Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
    let the bones you crushed be happy again.”

Psalm 51:8, NCV

When I was five years old, I made a grand effort to fly. Jumping off the top bunk, I went one direction– down! Landing on my arm, it really hurt. Going to the E.R. they did a x-ray, and they couldn’t find anything wrong. The doctor told us that it was just bruised.

After a miserable three days, with my mom “exercising” my arm like the doctor suggested, it got worse. Back to the E.R. and after another x-ray, the doctor returned to tell us that the arm was indeed broken. Evidently it wasn’t spotted until then. I got a plaster cast, and a sling.

King David spoke about broken bones. For him, they were not physical. It was much worse. It was spiritual. He essentially collapsed with the torturous Bathsheba decision. The bones were snapped, and it left him in considerable pain. The whole affair came within inches of completely destroying him.

The chastening hand of God often settles on us. Rarely is the pain physical, it is worse. We seldom cope with this kind of discipline.

“We do not enjoy being disciplined. It is painful at the time, but later, after we have learned from it, we have peace, because we start living in the right way.”

Hebrews 12:11, NCV

Pretty much the entirety of Hebrews 12 will press us into a deeper understanding of truth. I encourage you to read it. Perhaps though, the most important thing is to realize that His love is always behind His discipline. Yes, He breaks bones. But He also mends those bones that have been broken.

“We may feel God’s hand as a Father upon us when He strikes us as well as when He strokes us. We often learn more of God under the rod that strikes us than under the staff that comforts us.”

Unknown Puritan


ybic, Bryan

Your Enemies Must Be Loved: Psalm 35:19-21

Please, make it so.

19 “Don’t let my treacherous enemies rejoice over my defeat.
    Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow.
20 They don’t talk of peace;
    they plot against innocent people who mind their own business.
21 They shout, “Aha! Aha!
    With our own eyes we saw him do it!”

Psalm 35:19-21, NLT

Somehow, David is aware that the enemy will gain much by his defeat. It seems he stands at a pivot point, where his obedience and humility will cause issues that he never considered before.

He uses two definite and classic phrases– “enemies rejoice,” and “they cause gloating.” These are definite areas that have made Him so vulnerable and weak. He has given the enemy space to function here in these places.

This Psalm will continue to develop. But these three verses will declare a certain direction. It suggests how evil and ungodliness starts to flourish, and what it uses to make it work for them.


V. 19, Don’t let my treacherous enemies rejoice over my defeat.
    Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow.

First, David’s enemies are “treacherous,” they means they betray, they deceive, and mislead. They do not understand faithfulness. They are definite enemies because of what they have decided.

Second, the second phrase becomes even more vicious than the first. “Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow.” What is David thinking? I suppose we start with “those who hate me.” David is not the glowing central figure that we think he is. There are many loyal Jewish teachers who would make an issue of David’s adultery and subsequent murder of Uriah. He is hated by many.

But King David presses, “There is no cause.” All that they decide works in conjunction with the devil. Through forgiveness, David has uncover a gracious forgiveness, that has released him from these evils. Many just can’t recognize the release of David from his sins.

The word “gloat” is perhaps too closely related to “bloat.” This is a very negative, and a very poor choice of words. If I gloat it means I have incorporated pride/arrogance/ego with the things I choose to do. When I start gloating, I become pretty much lost.

V. 20, “They don’t talk of peace;
    they plot against innocent people who mind their own business.”

The works of these “scorners” are broadened to include all who profess a Godly hope. These rascals begin to target the innocent ones. The word “plot” is important as it does suggest an effort to bring down any kind of a Godly life they can discover. In a real sense they want to rip up anything that the innocent can develop.

V. 21, “They shout, “Aha! Aha!
    With our own eyes we saw him do it!”

This is everything that the liars and deceivers can produce. There proclamation of a “truthful witness.” I suppose this is someone’s direct witness to David’s terrible sin against Uriah and his wife, Bathsheba.

But I also think that very many took this up, and made it their personal vision. Although most had never saw the details, they too created an imaginary scenario that defied David, and made him ‘forgiven.’  And how can they follow such an evil sinner like King David?


ybic, Bryan