The book of Psalms is a presentation of musical themes contained in prayers and poems from diverse authorship profiled for the sole purpose of Biblical teaching.1 Psalms are a collection of independent literary thought that were developed by various composers to speak to diverse audience for human experience purposes. Psalms, though presented in its intrinsic poetic lustre, differ greatly from other prophetic oracles, propositional documentation, or moral constraints of the doctrinal pedagogy that assumes a revelatory yanking from God to humanity. Psalms, seen under these lenses serve to highlight the hope and desperation, the praise and incentive, as well as the conviction and fear of those who offer themselves to God in the celebration and progression of the duty of life.
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Whilst the canonical pedagogy of Psalms is naturally musical and poetic by way of composition by humankind as pathways of expression or expressing gratitude to various exceptional personages in the text, believers nevertheless regard them as having been inspired by God.2
In addition, these are to be used in the holy teaching of the faith of the church in meditation and worship. This conceptualisation highlights the legitimacy and the vitality of such expression in life of the individual believers and the spiritual community under which they subsist. The Psalms have been referred to as the Hymnbook of the Old Testament, and the faithful in every generation in history find it fresh and evergreen containing prayers and hymns that resonate to the experience of the life that God seeks for humankind. The enduring lustre of the canonical pedagogy of Psalms bears a true witness to a unique feature that is their composition, a contribution to their all-time usefulness in every clime of worship.
Attribution to David
To the great composer of music, therefore, the words of the book of Psalms were not necessarily written for private mediation, as most believers may tend to think, the mind-set of the Christian Church holds that the hymns contained in these books are for the sole purpose of public worship.3 Suitable for the lonely heart and sorrowful soul, the doctrinal attribution of Psalm is equally useful for the consolation of the poor in spirit.
This attribution captures the true meaning of the creed of the teaching according to the songs of David. One of the more pronounced literal and truest dimensions of the orientation of David’s work in the Psalm is the notion of the beauty of the Kingdom of God. Much of the documentation in these verses designate certain actions or personages as sacred, holy, historical or unique and this designation often encourages the believers to consider the readership of these unique works in discrete pilgrimage to quench their curiosity of the beauty of the Kingdom of God thereby putting a responsibility on individual believers to reconsider their actions.
In most of his themes in this chapter, David explore how ordinary space could be converted into a profane space, and suggests that this symbolic process reflects the human characteristics associated with both the physical features and the deeper, abstract implications of delimiting a particular action or place as secular or sacred.4 This was David’s greatest strength, writing from the conviction that humanity could be salvaged to inherit the beauty of the land of the living if humankind is separated from his sin.
Having seen the magnitude of his sin as an individual David poured out his all to God in prayers for forgiveness and cleansing. Having seen himself in the path towards self-ruin but determined to serve the Lord, he found great meaning to walk in the light towards the tabernacle of the Lord.5 Accordingly, David alleges in these impressive verses that those who truly repent their sins to God will not be ashamed to see their sins accepted absolved by an all-willing Father in Heaven.
In his tutelage, David instructs other believers of what is expected of them in both word and deed. In these texts, David seem not only to have done much, he in deed at a personal level suffered much in championing the cause of God. However, in his individual embodiment as human, he seemed to have been scared of his guilt to the likelihood of hiding away from God. Seeing that Gods infinite mercy is not worth fleeing away from, David seeks a comeback to God, and he does that with humility and composure seeking only a resolute reconciliation with God. He practically goes before God on bended knees seeking peace of both the body and the heart in the boldness of the living. The work of David seemed to have foreshadowed the ministry of Christ.6
The basis of David’s works in these verses makes the believer to long for a newfound relationship with God. Under these schemes of things, we are made aware that our plight is not beyond redemption. The Christian faithful always want the closest ties with God and repentance washes away the guilt of conscience. Through David, an is explored to be the type of being that is not comfortable with a heavy chunk of debt of his transgression, man would always seek a thorough cleansing of his guilt just to be one in good books with God.7
David hold to the conviction that the hypocrite nature of man is always a secret reserve but which will always distract the believers from the walking the right path towards the Kingdom of the Lord. David therefore seemed to have had a deep sense of his transgression, which continued to weigh him down heavily the moment he considered the stakes of his actions. The guilt of conscience bound with sorrow, a deeper abstract premonition, and shame seemed to have been so much on him such that he felt like he was under certain unseen prison, bound by chains of his sins. David is therefore a true representation of a willing to heart of a believer who is always determined to seek reverence with God despite man’s unyielding sinful nature.
Sins of David
The affair David had with Bathsheba, and the killing of Uriah, her husband, transpired into this writing, a song sounding his repentance for the adulterous act and the murder of an innocent man, sins he committed before the Lord, God, whom he so dearly served. As at this time, Nathan, the prophet of the lord during his tenure, was sent by God to rebuke him.8 David, king of Israelites is brought out in the bible as a man who loved music. He, having favour in the eyes of the Lord, would employ the sweetest of voices and used it to praise God. Only this time he sang in sorrow for his sins. He felt low in spirit, and when Prophet Nathan was sent to remind him where his loyalties lie, he saw the godliness in him and recognised the greatness of God. He repented. David admitted his wrongdoing and asked mercy of the lord.9
He said, ‘have mercy on me O God, because of your loyal love, because of your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts, wash away my wrongdoing, and cleanse me of my sin for I am aware of my rebellious acts, I am forever conscious of my sin.’ In this, David portrayed God as loyal, loving, and compassionate. He was aware of the sins he had committed and was keen to put them behind him. He believed In God’s ability to cleanse, putting Him above all. David exalted God, for he knew that God was righteous and had good intentions for him. He admitted having done what is evil and acknowledged that God was just to confront him and right to condemn him. This perspective often recommends that the conventional balance of faith and sin is exactly the direct opposite of Christian teaching.
According to David, a man is a sinner the very time he is conceived, and is guilty of sins when he is born. As king and a leader, he knew the desires of God for his purpose in life was that he be moral, wise and discerning, virtues that he had fallen short of going by the sin he committed. David further confirmed faith in the great deeds of God by his belief that if God only sprinkled and washed him with water, he would be pure and even employed an overstatement that he would be whiter than snow. He said that Gods forgiving nature brought joy to a broken, darkened heart.10 He pleaded with God not reject him, to make him pure and whole again. Moreover, he asks God not to let him know no sins again.
The role of the Holy Spirit in human life was enhanced in this writing. David put out that it sustained a delivered heart by giving the desire to obey what god commands. He did not, however forget the role of those delivered and kept by the Holy Spirit. He maintained that they have the soul duty of bringing aboard deliverance sinners, through teaching them God’s merciful ways, hence turning them away from their rebellious ways. The climax of David’s repentance came out when he acknowledged God’s power and spelt out his very sin as murder asking God to deliver him: ‘rescue me from the guilt of murder, o God, the God who delivers me.’ He once again wanted to feel the joy of being unbound by sin.11
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Gods hand in David’s kingdom was brought out in the later part the writing. He was the God who gave the words for praise, and accepted his and the burnt sacrifices of his subjects. Yet David knew that he would not accept an offering from a corrupted soul, that what God desired in man was a humble spirit, a repentant heart. David ends this writing by asking God to grant Zion the favour she enjoyed once again, to fortify the walls of Jerusalem, and in exchange, offers bulls as proper-burnt sacrifices and whole offerings on the altar of God.12
David the Singer and the Killer
Music, especially for the sole purpose of worship, is crucial for spiritual up lifting and identifying with God. Lubricating the spiritual psyche and oiling the wheels of narrative continuity, music conducts the emotional responses, regulates our sympathies, extracts our tears, and excites our glands. Music in its intrinsic nature, relaxes our pulses, and triggers our fears, in conjunction with the image and in the service of the larger purposes of our faith.13 Most authors observe that no element of human creativity dutifully portrays the relationship between a man and its identity than the words of conveyed in a song, especially where artists and audiences share similar cultural, geographical, or spiritual orientation.
Whereas not all music seeks to explore the linkage between man and God, there simply appears to be a strong bondage between hymns and their reception and interpretation to the Kingdom of God, all of which is dependent on the religious niche to which the music is made for. In as much as music may not necessarily be the central theme in contemporary spirituality, it is fit to say that David excelled where majority exceeded. Many studies have been done on a wide variety of themes, and these are often published in specialised journals beyond the gaze of mainstream Old Testimonial pedagogy, and usually way outside the literature read by students of music and theology.14
According to Sirach, David sang songs of worship to his creator whom he so much adored. He regarded singers high before many other persons and instructed them to sing with the sweetest of their voices at the altar. He arranged several festivals at all time and invited singers to praise God and His holiness, all day – from dawn to dusk.
Historians who critically study the bible will tend to refute several aspects of this first paragraph, that are not in their correct chronological time, yet they will do well to come to terms with the information it provides of David’s connection to worship, songs- psalm. Israelites took up these connections and passed them over to the church who accepted them. The book of Psalm, traditionally, is the book of David. Sirach tells us that the Lord delivered David from his sins and elevated his kingship forever. Because of God’s forgiveness for the affair with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband Uriah, God made an agreement with David to give him a kingship full of glory. The writer makes seen the comparison and the contrast in David as a singer and a sinner.15
David and Bathsheba in story and song
David’s adultery and the killing of Uriah are brought out in an unfortunate account. ‘One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of his palace. From the roof, he saw a woman bathing. Now this woman was very attractive (2 Samuel 11:2). From the top of the roof, David assumed that he controlled everything that he viewed. He saw all, including those that were not intended for him. This, perhaps, led to temptation beyond which he could evade. Therefore, David looked as long as no one sounded the attention. Perhaps David’s security saw him, however for them that would only be an illusion, for they would not utter a word of it.16 The story at first does not bring into account God as an observer of David’s actions; yet, God saw it in the glare of the day. It comes out in 2 Samuel 12:1 that what David did was evil in the eyes of the Lord and displeased Him. Moreover, the narrator sees and so is the reader who is made to see vividly what transpired in the story with the aim of learning something out of it all.
David sorrowful heart
A duty of morality as forwarded by the ancient Israel society is one that requires every individual to demonstrate greatest concern for the interest of others. This is demonstrated when David fell in love with Uriah’s wife, and it was largely viewed to bear future consequences, not only to the household of Uriah, but also to the vast Israel Kingdom by extension.17 The fact that mortals and immortals cannot stay together under a marriage partnership held then, and the blood of a dead Uriah would traumatise the Davidic Kingdom.
The moral values of compassion, reciprocity, social welfare, and interdependence, which fall under the communitarian morality, principally impose restraints on individuals with reference to the community and its members. Individual members of a society in specific have a duty to reciprocate within the stipulated decorum for which there is a mirror line that caste them against their actions. All these considerations hoist the perception of relationships to a status – akin to that which is put on the rights that guarantees marriages between individuals in most societies today. The ethics of the ancient Israel society considered such rights as weighty, and they never gave any chance to obsessional attractions that might have been mooted between individuals who are not legally married.18
Nonetheless, such laws did not even attempted to consider let alone imagining a love affair between unmarried individuals, or more succinctly a relationship between a lower caste and a higher caste for that matter. David was the principal King in charge of the vast Israel Kingdom and Uriah was an ordinary remote soldier in his army.
The greatness of the Lord explained
The interplay between righteousness and sin in the works of David has been the quintessential theme of a more complex yet conventional theory that provokes wisdom in these words. “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51).19
More than anything, the seeming religious conflicts of interest recorded from the ancient times to the present could be interpreted in terms of conflicts of interests in humankind. These conflicts of interests have been played upon by religious prejudice whose main interpretation of David’s pedagogy has been to inspire a greater zeal through sacrifice and offertory from the masses. This point of view often suggests that the archetypical balance of faith and sin is precisely the direct opposite of Christian teaching. Rather, the most candid expression to it would be the religious conflicts that herald such interests are the foundation of human sin. The pedigrees and the consequences of the apparent conflicts in these verses are by extension a farce and an instigation of religious embodiment.
From the experiences and the memoirs of the ancient Israel religious teaching, it was established that the role religion is capable of playing in spirituality is second to no other concept reached upon in human history.20 Quite a number of religious personages in the Bible are at present alluded to owing to the exceptional roles they played in denouncing sin as a way of man. Much of this conviction was informed by their ability to cushion human affliction into a cessation of sin, much of which was realised with repentance to God and the willingness to walk in the light. The repentance consciousness that informed the early church made all these key figures to be dispersed in much of the ancient Israel nation. However, what mattered then was familiarity with the concept of religious teaching and indeed this made these Christian faithful to seek reconciliation with God.21
Spirituality in David’s Hymn
David’s centrality to the pedagogy of the Hymn as explored in the Psalm is great. Essentially hymn is a branch within the human religious studies. Simply put, hymn refers to the study of religious manifestations and norms including their variations in relations to and across spaces and places. Religious hymns, therefore, centres mainly on evaluating and analysing the ways in which man and God relate highlighting human endeavour and greatness of the Kingdom of the Lord, explaining how humanity drives these features and strengths from none other than God.
However, when we talk about songs, it is likely that we refer to the creative and intellectual products of man, including music, drama, painting, and literature. Another implication of hymn to the work of David offers the practices and beliefs of a society, particularly where these are closely linked with place, tradition, or religion.22
Nonetheless, the work of David is more than just that, it dwelt greatly in the conviction of spirituality. Spirituality specifically, is part of the fabric of every man that seeks revered with God. It explores and shapes the way things are done and our understanding of why this should be so. Definitely, spirituality expresses itself a collection of complex distinctive material, mystical, emotional, and intellectual features that characterise an individual, a social group or the society in general. It includes not only prayers and songs of hymns but also life styles, value systems, the fundamental rights of the human being, traditions and beliefs, but above all confessions, and the affinity to live a pure life.23
Man is sinful by nature
The basis of spirituality as explored in the work of David is the ability to explore the divinity of the Kingdom of God in a way that helps us to know and act better in the world around us. In essence, therefore, what the work of David seeks to achieve, is to explore the connections of God and man. In other words, the teaching of the Psalm tends to ask why God always expect us to behave in a particular way and in a particular context. The consistent element is in exploring how individual believers interact, are influence, and even become synonymous with the requirements of the Lord.24
It pursues these interests through identifying that the element of intersection between God and man is the heart. From a spiritually informed standpoint, therefore, individual actions come by their meanings and identities because of the complex human linkage to sin and the context that such sins occur within specific individuals. From the Old Testament concept, sin conceived and construed by its linking to nature of man.25
This implies that sin is constituted by elements of traces from Adam and Eve. These traces are nothing but residues, marks, or remnants still running fresh in the blood of believers to this date. Traces of human sinful nature are most commonly considered inheritance of the Adam’s family tree. These traces of sinful inheritance are characteristic of man. It is always easy to see some of the tangible traces in man, and we can sense the presence in man. We can always feel them, hear them, smell them, or even taste them, as well as being able to paint an imaginary picture on them, reflect upon them, and sometimes – in our more sentimental moments – relish our heartfelt on them and ask God for direction.26
Sin as a landmark identity of man
The sins of man are the landmarks that David never wanted his pedigree to inherit. These landmarks therefore, can be durable in men both in a material sense and they can have longevity due to their nature and material substance, and may last owing to their non-material substance, in effect, they may leave indelible marks on our memory. In these verses, David is explored to be undergoing a lot of trauma considering his sinful past. Seeing that his sin is beyond swallow, he comes before God for repentance. He passionately seems willing to be reunited with God and would not want his sins to build a landmark on him.27
As these landmarks are constantly produced, they constantly influence the identities and meanings of individuals.28 Consequently, in both material and non-material life forms, they function as connections, always tying the meaning of sin to the identity of individual people. Landmarks therefore, bind identities and individual together, thus influencing the mannerism of man as either sinful or holy. Because of the constant manifestations of landmarks, individuals turn out to be dynamic entities such that they are in constant state of transition as new traces react with existing or older ones to change the meaning of individual identity. It is proportionate, therefore, to argue that sin and humanity are highly linked. The work of David in the Psalm only tends to interrogate these connections, their influences, and impacts. It critically evaluates the sinful nature of man and the inclinations motivating it, as well as the reasons for their significance to humanity, their likelihood, and effect on humanity in general.
From the foregoing analysis, it could be prudent to say that if humanity can precisely point out the areas of man’s weaknesses, it would always be necessary to pull our energies to transform the lives of those whom we come.29
In a society subdued by the impending serious humanistic sins, we can only rise to the occasion and act to safeguard our place in the Kingdom of the Lord. It is pointless, however, giving up on acting in the manner that is morally beautiful. It is for this reason that David deserves his right place in history, his tireless fight for human cause and spiritual empowerment is much beseeched in his ministry. Notwithstanding, his courage, his expansive and self-explanatory, for King David’s world, the journey to inheriting the Kingdom of the Lord is for the brave and the pure in heart. In all his endeavour courage looms large, not many personages today have the ability to puzzle past tragedy as King David, whose manifestations in these verses evoke the cruel yet real and perceived fantasises that besieges the fears of obstruct love and the merriment that accomplishes strong determined soul. It revises the heart especially contemplating the fact that highly regarded sinners could be reclaimed to seek great revered with God.
David’s account is a robust attestation that God is always able and willing to reconcile with sinners so long as they repent and desist from their sinful ways. David though highly a preferred servant of God strays from the trajectory of the Lord through his disobedience to God, he is aware of his guilt and does not want God to be angered by his actions, he thus goes before God and asks for forgiveness.
David’s lamentation for the forgiveness of his sins deserves a place in the hearts of the believers, for this is nothing less than a divine grace and a condemnation of individual sinful ways. David’s return to the Lord teaches transgressors the ways of the Lord in a way that sinners may find their way to Him. These texts tells more that individuals can always miss out on greater opportunities offered by God, and even go against the ways of the Lord, but when one is fully committed to denounce his sinful ways, God is always willing to seek revered with transformed sinners. This is not to say believers should sin intentionally and afterwards seek God’s forgiveness, David’s account is discrete and majorly meant to teach believers the unyielding compassion of God.
Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Poetry. New York: Harper Collins, 1985. Web.
Barentsen, Jack. “Restoration and its blessings: a theological analysis of psalms 51 and 32.” Grace Theological Journal 5 no.2 (1984): 247-269. Web.
Carm, Murphy. The gift of the psalms. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Peabody, 2000. Web.
Chisholm, Robert. A theology of the psalms in a biblical theology of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. Web.
Copeland, Mark. “Psalm 51 – The penitent’s prayer: Objectives in studying this psalm.” Executable Outlines. 2014. Web.
Crenshaw, James. The psalms: An introduction. London: Cambridge Press, 2001. Web.
Crumpacker, Mary. “Formal analysis of and the Psalms.” Jets 24, no. 1 (1981): 11-21. Web.
Day, John. Psalms. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990. Web.
Falconer, Everett. “A study of Psalm 51.” Bibliotheca Sacra 2 no. 92 (1935): 26-38. Web.
Gaiser, Frederick. “The David of Psalm 51: Reading Psalm 51 in Light of Psalm 50.” Word & World 23, no. 4 (2003): 23-45. Web.
Groenewald, Alphonso. “Psalm 51 and the criticism of the cult: Does This Reflect a Divided Religious Leadership?” OTE 22, no. 1 (2009): 47-62. Web.
Henry, Matthew. “A Concise commentary Psalm 51: Bible Commentary.” Christ Notes. 2014. Web.
Kraus, Hans-Joachim. Theology of the Psalms. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1986. Web.
Leslie, Allen. Psalms in Old Testament Survey. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996. Web.
Oluwaseyi, Stephen. “A Semantic analysis of psalm 51.” University of Ilorin. 2014. Web.
Roberts, Jeremy. “An exegetical examination of psalm 51.” Theological Journal 2 no. 5 (1990): 247-269. Web.
Smith, Terry. “A crisis in faith: An exegesis of psalm 73.” Restoration Quarterly 17, no. 3 (1974): 162-184. Web.
Talstra, Eep and Carl Bosma. “Psalm 51: Restoration from sin: An exegetical – theological reflection on Psalm 51.” Calvin Theological Journal 36 no. 5 (2001): 290-313. Web.
Watson, Wilfred. Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to its Techniques. New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995. Web.
Yeshwanth, Caleb. “Psalm 51: An exegetical essay from leadership perspective.” Academia.edu. 2014. Web.
- James Crenshaw, The psalms: An introduction (London: Cambridge Press, 2001), 2.
- John Day, Psalms (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990), 5.
- Everett Falconer, “A study of Psalm 51,” Bibliotheca Sacra 2, no. 92 (1935): 26.
- Frederick Gaiser, “The David of Psalm 51: Reading Psalm 51 in Light of Psalm 50,” Word & World 23, no. 4 (2003): 23.
- Alphonso Groenewald, “Psalm 51 and the Criticism of the Cult: Does This Reflect a Divided Religious Leadership?” OTE 22, no. 1 (2009): 47.
- Mary Crumpacker, “Formal analysis of and the Psalms,” Jets 24, no. 1 (1981), 12.
- Stephen Oluwaseyi, “A Semantic analysis of psalm 51,” University of Ilorin. 2014. Web.
- Hans-Joachim Kraus, Theology of the Psalms (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1986), 45.
- Wilfred Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to its Techniques (New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 23.
- Caleb Yeshwanth, “Psalm 51: An exegetical essay from leadership perspective,” Academia.edu, 2014. Web.
- Murphy Carm, The gift of the psalms (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Peabody, 2000), 12.
- Jeremy Roberts, “An exegetical examination of psalm 51,” Theological Journal 2 no. 5 (1990), 247.
- Matthew, Henry, “A Concise commentary Psalm 51: Bible Commentary,” Christ Notes. 2014. Web.
- Terry Smith, “A crisis in faith: An exegesis of psalm 73,” Restoration Quarterly 17, no. 3 (1974), 165.
- Smith Terry, “A crisis in faith: An exegesis of psalm 73,” 165.
- Eep Talstra and Carl Bosma, “Psalm 51: Restoration from sin: An exegetical – theological reflection on Psalm 51,” Calvin Theological Journal 36, no. 5 (2001), 292.
- Jack Barentsen, “Restoration and its blessings: a theological analysis of psalms 51 and 32,” Grace Theological Journal 5 no.2 (1984): 250.
- Allen Leslie, Psalms in Old Testament Survey (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 56.
- Robert Chisholm, A theology of the psalms in a biblical theology of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 3.
- Jack Barentsen, “Restoration and its blessings: A theological analysis of psalms 51 and 32,” 15.
- Matthew Henry, “A Concise commentary Psalm 51: Bible Commentary,” Christ Notes. 2014. Web.
- Mark Copeland, “Psalm 51 – The penitent’s prayer: Objectives in studying this psalm,” Executable Outlines. 2014. Web.
- Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Poetry (New York: Harper Collins, 1985), 89.
- Alter Robert, The Art of Biblical Poetry, 89.
- Watson, Wilfred, Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to its Techniques (New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 74.