Psalm 51*

A. (1) Have mercy upon me, O God,
according to thy lovingkindness:
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies
blot out my transgressions.

B. (2a) Wash me throughly from mine iniquity,
(2b) and cleanse me from my sin.

C. (3) For I acknowledge my transgressions:
(3b) and my sin is ever before me.
(4) Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in thy sight:

D. that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest,
and be clear when thou judgest.

C’. (5) Behold, I was shapen in iniquity;
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
( 6) Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

B’. (7) Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

A’. (8-9) Make me to hear joy and gladness;
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all mine iniquities.


A.(8) Make me to hear joy and gladness;
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

B. (9) Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all mine iniquities.

C. (10) Create in me a clean heart, O God;

C’. and renew a right spirit within me.

B’. (11) Cast me not away from thy presence;
and take not thy holy spirit from me.

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

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

B. (14) Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,

B’. thou God of my salvation:

A’. and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
(15) O Lord, open thou my lips;
and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

A. (16) For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it:

B. thou delightest not in burnt offering.

C. (17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

D. (18) Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion:

D’ . build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

C’. (19) Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,

B’. with burnt offering and whole burnt offering:

A’. then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

2 thoughts on “Psalm 51*”

  1. Note: Wendland suggests the following overall pattern in https://www.academia.edu/36065502/An_Exegetical_Overview_of_Psalm_51_A_Prayer_for_Forgiveness.

    A. Prologue—Appeal for God’s mercy in individual forgiveness (vv. 1-2)
    B. Personal confession of sinfulness (3-6)
    C. Prayer for forgiveness and renewed joy (7-9)
    C’ Prayer for purity and renewed joy (10-12)
    B’ Personal profession of consecration (13-17)
    A’ Epilogue—Appeal for God’s communal blessing upon Zion (18-19)

  2. Psalm 51 is poetry. Each verse is either a chiasm or a parallel. The following breaks it into 4 parts. It does not use verses 8&9 twice as in the current analysis.

    I. Plea for mercy after confessing sin and the good judgement of God
    A 1 Have mercy upon me,
    O God, according to thy lovingkindness:
    according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies
    blot out my transgressions.
    B 2 Wash me throughly
    from mine iniquity,
    and cleanse me
    from my sin.
    C 3 For I acknowledge
    my transgressions:
    and my sin
    is ever before me.
    D 4 Against thee, thee only,
    have I sinned,
    and done this evil
    in thy sight:
    E that thou mightest be justified
    when thou speakest,
    and be clear
    when thou judgest.
    D 5 Behold, I was shapen
    in iniquity;
    and in sin
    did my mother conceive me.
    C’ 6 Behold, thou desirest truth
    in the inward parts:
    and in the hidden part
    thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
    B’ 7 Purge me with hyssop,
    and I shall be clean:
    wash me,
    and I shall be whiter than snow.
    A’ 8 Make me to hear
    joy and gladness;
    that the bones which thou hast broken
    may rejoice.

    II. Plea to regain his relationship with God and his spirit
    A 9 Hide thy face
    from my sins,
    and blot out
    all mine iniquities.
    B 10 Create in me
    a clean heart, O God;
    and renew a right spirit
    within me.
    B’ 11 Cast me not away
    from thy presence;
    and take not thy holy spirit
    from me.
    A’ 12 Restore unto me
    the joy of thy salvation;
    and uphold me
    with thy free spirit.

    III. Promise to preach the Lord’s ways if forgiven (bargain with the Lord)
    A 13 Then will I teach transgressors
    thy ways;
    and sinners shall be converted
    unto thee.
    B 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness,
    O God,
    thou God
    of my salvation:
    A’ and my tongue
    shall sing aloud
    of thy righteousness.
    15 O Lord,
    open thou
    my lips;
    and my mouth
    shall shew forth
    thy praise.

    IV. Plea for God to accept a contrite heart and the sacrifices
    A 16 For thou desirest not sacrifice;
    else would I give it:
    thou delightest not in burnt offering.
    B 17 The sacrifices of God are
    a broken spirit: [spiritual strength]
    a broken and a contrite heart,
    O God, thou wilt not despise.
    B’ 18 Do good in thy good pleasure
    unto Zion:
    build thou
    the walls of Jerusalem. {spiritual walls}
    A’ 19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
    with burnt offering
    and whole burnt offering:
    then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

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