Psalm 51 – SING & LEARN – Teshuvah

below the recording of the song (Psalm 51:12) you’ll find a summary of our discussion, the Chapter itself and the story behind the Psalm that I googled out from some website (didn’t check it, so if you find it not a proper translation.. please tell me)

The subject is Teshuva, remorse and the principles of repentance.

Historical background for Psalm 51 is King David’s sin with Bat Sheva as appears in Samuel 2:11-12. In short, King David desires one of his soldier’s wife (Uriah), thus sends him to the front line of the battles, a place where you usually don’t come back alive from.. This in order to marry Bat Sheva later on.
David’s action was displeasing to the HASHEM, who accordingly sent Nathan the prophet to reprove the king.
After relating the parable of the rich man who took away the one little ewe lamb of his poor neighbor (Samuel 2 12:1-6), and exciting the king’s anger against the unrighteous act, the prophet applied the case directly to David’s action with regard to Bathsheba.
The king at once confessed his sin and expressed sincere repentance: “And David said to Nathan: “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “Also the Lord has removed your sin; you shall not die.

– The chapter expresses the remorse King David has because of this sin, as the second verse says: When Nathan the prophet came to him when he went to Bath-sheba (Psalm 51:2).

– (Q.) Saying the above raises a wonder about the beginning of the chapter (Psalm 51:1). “For the conductor a song by David“. Speaking about a misfortune of falling to a pit of a sin, we would expect a different opening than ‘a song’ ,maybe  ‘lamentation’ or anything else, surly not a happy song..

– (A.) We mentioned that there are 4 stages while doing Teshuvah: Leaving the sin (of course the repentance is meaningless if one still holds the wrong behavior), Regret (confrontation with the sad truth, that you fell in a wrong deed, what brings with it feelings of shame and embarrassment over the sin-hence, regret) , Vidui-Confession before HASHEM (expression of the fact that one desires to be totally detached from the ‘bad side of the sin’), and Acceptance for the future.

At the beginning of the Teshuvah process, one might (should?) be in a place that is close to sadness, pain, remorse and maybe even depression, this is a ‘time for ‘lamentation’ rather than a ‘song’.
We suggested that King David, at the time of writing this chapter, with (maybe: because of) the hard feeling of remorse, is also aware of the fact that there is ‘a way back’, that he can do Teshuvah = return to what he was before the sin, and maybe even become stronger at the end of the process. (Teshuvah- תשובה in Hebrew comes from the root ‘return’).

We suggested a way to explain the radical idea of Teshuvah, and how does it happen that a person might even be bigger than before the sin: He/She makes such a change in oneself, that in a spiritual way there is a new person here. By essence we are created good and pure, when we do a sin, it is like an external stain is stick on us. Following the process of Teshuvah, we must climb to a spiritual level that refer to the goodness we really are, what makes us “more the pure us” and “less the external sin” that got stuck on us.

We spoke a bit of an idea that is much bigger than the 40 minutes of Psalm study, Teshuvah, so back to the current discussion: How come King David is ‘singing’ about a sin? – He is singing because he is at the end of the Teshuvah process.


– Second point we mentioned, is the interesting fact that King David does not try to hide the ‘accident’. Non like other kings and rulers who try show in public only their perfectness and lack of failures, King David continues the Biblical way of confronting the humanly mistakes (we previously even saw that it is part of the Teshuvah process).
Being human who can make mistakes doesn’t make our heroes lesser. On the contrary, no human born is divine, we are great because we struggle for it. We are greater when we succeed in getting up again after we fall.

At Psalm 51:5 King David is even pointing out that, although the sin now is not part of him anymore (As Nathan the prophet states: ‘Also the Lord has removed your sin’), he never forgets it, so he won’t fall again in sin. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me”. (Psalm 51:5).

~ For your convenience below is the Psalm 51, afterwards the chapters from Samuel with the story of King David and Bat Sheva ~

Psalm 51

1 For the Leader. A Psalm of David;
2 When Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bath-sheba.
3 Be gracious unto me, O God, according to Thy mercy; according to the multitude of Thy compassions blot out my transgressions.
4 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
5 For I know my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me.
6 Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight;
that Thou mayest be justified when Thou speakest, and be in the right when Thou judgest.
7 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
8 Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts; make me, therefore, to know wisdom in mine inmost heart.
9 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
10 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which Thou hast crushed may rejoice.
11 Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
12 Create me a clean heart, O God; and renew a stedfast spirit within me.
13 Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy holy spirit from me.
14 Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and let a willing spirit uphold me.
15 Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall return unto Thee.
16 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; 
so shall my tongue sing aloud of Thy righteousness.
17 O Lord, open Thou my lips; and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.
18 For Thou delightest not in sacrifice, else would I give it; Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering.
19 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
20 Do good in Thy favour unto Zion; build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.
21 Then wilt Thou delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, in burnt-offering and whole offering; 
then will they offer bullocks upon Thine altar.


Shmuel chapter 11 and 12, the story of King David and Bat Sheva:

It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

2 Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. 3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house.5 And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.”

6 Then David sent to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah had come to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered. 8 And David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah departed from the king’s house, and a gift of food from the king followed him. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 So when they told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?”

11 And Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.”

12 Then David said to Uriah, “Wait here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk. And at evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

14 In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah.15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.” 16 So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also.

18 Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, 19 and charged the messenger, saying, “When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, 20 if it happens that the king’s wrath rises, and he says to you: ‘Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth?[a] Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?’—then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”

22 So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent by him. 23 And the messenger said to David, “Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in the field; then we drove them back as far as the entrance of the gate. 24 The archers shot from the wall at your servants; and some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.”

25 Then David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab: ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. Strengthen your attack against the city, and overthrow it.’ So encourage him.”

26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.27 And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

12 Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had beentoo little, I also would have given you much more! 9 Why have you despised the commandment of theLord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wifeto be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’”

13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” 15 Then Nathan departed to his house.

And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill. 16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, “Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!”

19 When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?”

And they said, “He is dead.”

20 So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.”

22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether theLord  will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he  called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved him, 25 and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he  called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.