Psalm Chapter 51: Verses 11-15

Psalms Chapter 51: Verses 11-15 (Unless otherwise cited all the scriptural references in this devotional are from the public domain version of King James Version of the Bible).


The psalmist’s appeal to God for forgiveness of his sins is one of the most memorable in the book, due, perhaps in part, to the historical title (see Introduction) that situates its composition by David after Nathan the prophet confronted him about his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12). While the words of this prayer fit that occasion well, we should note that nowhere is this particular historical event mentioned specifically, indicating that the poem was written not to memorialize that moment, but to serve as a model prayer for others coming later who find themselves in similar, though not identical, circumstances (Longman 2014, 2018).

11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

When one is cast away from the presence of God they are separated from Him for eternity.  In 1 Sam. 16:14 we read that the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul because he was disobedient to Him. “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” King David was aware of this, and he did not want that to happen to him. 1 Sam. 16:13 informs us that when the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, God placed His spirit in David. “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.”  David knew that his sin with Bathsheba “grieved” the Holy Spirit. 1 Thess. 5:19 advises us that when we sin it  “[Quenches] the Spirit] and we are reminded that we should not “Quench … the Spirit.” David was praying that the holy spirit would not be taken from him. He knew that he completely relied on the Holy Spirit to keep him connected to God. The Holy Spirit was with him from the time he was a child. I Samuel 17:49 “And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.”

12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

David is dreading the probability that the Holy Spirit will no longer be his guide, confidant, and giver of joy. The sin he had committed cause him to experiences joylessness.

When Christians sin, they are fearful that they will grieve the Holy Spirit (See this devotional about grieving the Holy Spirit). When we create situations that undermine others we are committing a sin. It grieves the heart of God when His children are vindictive to each other. It grieves Him, even more, than we know. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God. It is pure and holy. It cannot stand to be in a place where sin is a continual way of life.

David wants to renew his relationship with God. He wants to “restore” the relationship he had with God. He want to retore the relationship of joy and rejoicing. This verse is a plea to God to forgive David so he can once again 

13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

One of the things that we do not focus on today is the fact that it is our job as Christians to “teach” trangressors” His ways. David knows what forgiveness feels like. As such, he can tell others about what how this feels like. When he does this, he knows that “”sinners” will be converted, I do not understand why someone would refuse to tell a sinner about the grace and peace that they have received from God. David also knows that he does not change a sinners mind. Only the Holy Spirit does the calling. He can share his recommitment to the Lord. 

Conversion has a commitment level that many people are not willing to enact in their lives. But Luke 22:32 clearly tells us what God expects from us.  “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

Once again we see that David is addressing the egregious sin that he committed. The word “bloodguiltiness” shows that he is talking about the murder of Uriah. (Read 2 Samuel 11 for the background of this story). David knew the process that would result in his “tongue” singing God’s praises. When we sin, and we all sin everyday-contrary to what people may post in social media, we need to repent of the sin, acknowledge the sin, and ask then ask God to be merciful to us. Rom. 4:6 reminds us that David knew about God’s righteousness “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,” We do not believe that works make us righteous.

We are saved by the grace of God. But grace does not give us a license to sin habitually. Romans 6:1 clear us the misconception that we can speak as we wish. Defile our thoughts with curse words and think that it is ok. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sinthat grace may abound?” Isa. 61:10 tells us why David, and us, should be rejoicing “ I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” I am so thankful that I have justification by faith. I am also thankful that, like a child who has done something that they should not have done, I can go to my heavenly Father for forgiveness, and He will give it to me. 

15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

There is a joy that floods the soul of a believer who has received forgiveness. That joy is also present at the end of a prayer. Sometimes it occurs during a prayer. Have you ever been in prayer about something only to find yourself singing a praise song? It happens to me frequently. When we consider that we have these psalms because David was praying and he wrote these hymns as a musical rendition of a prayer, then we know that it is ok for us to worship in song while worshipping in prayer.


Longman, Tremper, III. 2014. Psalms : An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. Accessed November 26, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Cayce 2014, Book of Psalms. Psalms Chapter 51: Verses 11-15:

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