To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba
“Have mercy on me!
According to your steadfast love,
According to your abundant mercy,
Blot out my transgressions!
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity!
Cleanse me from my sin!”
Psalm 51 is the great penitential psalm when David was confronted by the prophet Nathan for his sexual encounter with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12. Eventually, David and Bathsheba were punished with the death of their first born. David wanted God’s mercy because of God’s steadfast love. This psalm is like Psalm 6 as a lament that is addressed to God directly. David wanted his transgressions blotted out. He wanted his iniquities washed away. He wanted to be cleansed from his sin. He wanted everything back to normal.
“He reached down from on high.
He took me.
He drew me out of mighty waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy.
He delivered me from those who hated me.
They were too mighty for me.
They confronted me.
In the day of my calamity,
However Yahweh was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place.
He rescued me,
Because he delighted in me.”
The psalmist David seems to imply that Yahweh had a special place for him. This is almost word for word from the canticle in 2 Samuel, chapter 22. Yahweh reached down from the heavens. He took David out of the mighty waters. More than anything, he rescued David from his strong enemy and those who hated him. David realized that he was not strong enough by himself. He needed the help of Yahweh in the day of his calamity when his enemies confronted him. Yahweh was his support who had brought him forward. Yahweh delighted in David. His enemies attacked him, but Yahweh was always with him because he loved him.
“The cords of death encompassed me.
The torrents of perdition assailed me.
The cords of Sheol entangled me.
The snares of death confronted me.”
This was a dangerous situation. Death was all around David. Perdition was close at hand. The chords of Sheol, the underground place of death, had him entangled. Death confronted him face to face. Just like 2 Samuel, chapter 22, death, evil, Sheol, and perdition were all around him, assailing him, entangling him, and confronting him. What was he to do?