CONTEXT: There is little doubt or argument among scholars that this is both a Psalm of David and one of repentance and praise. Some interesting things (at least to me) the title says To the Chief Musician so this was never meant to be a private calling out for repentance and reflection. David intended it for a public worship service. The Psalm is divided into two parts with v. 1-12 the prayer of repentance and the remaining six verses, v.13-19 praising God for anticipated forgiveness and restoration.
Of course the “Model Prayer” in the Bible is the one prayed by Jesus found in Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4. That does not preclude us however from looking for other patterns or examples of righteous prayers in the bible as examples we should follow. Here in Psalm 51 David provides just such an example.
This Psalm is often and fitly called THE SINNER’S GUIDE. In some of its versions it often helps the returning sinner. Athanasius recommends to some Christians, to whom he was writing, to repeat it when they awake at night. All evangelical churches are familiar with it. Luther says, “There is no other Psalm which is oftener sung or prayed in the church.” This is the first Psalm in which we have the word Spirit used in application to the Holy Ghost. William S. Plumer.
This is the most deeply affecting of all the Psalms, and I am sure the one most applicable to me. It seems to have been the effusion of a soul smarting under the sense of a recent and great transgression. My God, whether recent or not, give me to feel the enormity of my manifold offences, and remember not against me the sins of my youth. What a mine of rich matter and expression for prayer! Wash, cleanse me, O Lord, and let my sin and my sinfulness be ever before me. Let me feel it chiefly as sin against thee, that my sin may be of the godly sort. Give me to feel the virulence of my native corruption, purge me from it thoroughly, and put truth into my inward parts, that mine may be a real turning from sin unto the Savior. Create me anew, O God. Withdraw not thy Spirit. Cause me to rejoice in a present salvation. Deliver me, O God, from the blood guiltiness of having offended any of thy little ones; and so open my lips that I may speak of the wondrous things thou hast done for my soul! May I offer up spiritual sacrifices; and oh! let not any delinquencies of mine bring a scandal upon thy church; but do thou so purify and build her up, that even her external services, freed from all taint of corruption or hypocrisy, may be well pleasing in thy sight. Thomas Chalmers.
As many of you know I am not much for “Modern” worship music. I just feel it falls short on context. But Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right and steadfast spirit within me is a prayer worthy of repeating daily by all of us, so today I will make an exception.