(To the brilliant overseer. A Psalm associated with DAVID, when NATHAN the prophet, went to him after he had gone in to BATHSHEBA.)

Be merciful to me, ELOHIM, according to your merciful kindness;

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according to the multitude of your compassions of the womb,

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wipe out my rebellious sin.


(To the leader [of music]. A Psalm written by THE ONE WHO IS LOVED when the prophet GIVEN [BY GOD] went to him after he had sex with DAUGHTER OF AN OATH.)

O CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS, have mercy on me, according to your merciful kindness; according to the multitude of your mother-like compassions, obliterate my rebellious sin [from your memory].



This is a very important word in the Hebrew Old Testament. It has a variety of meanings which, in English, include the following: “favor, goodness, kindness, mercy, affection, love, piety.” The favorite rendition by most translators is arguable “loving kindness.” I have chosen to use “merciful kindness” because I think it does a better job of portraying two of the key concepts behind the word.


This word means both “womb” and “compassion.” It usually refers to the compassion and tenderness that a woman feels toward her newborn child from the moment it comes from the womb.

David's Confession

Psalm 51 is David’s confession after his affair with Bathsheba. It is amazing that we have a record of his sin and of his confession. He starts by asking God to have mercy on him; so He knew that throwing himself on the mercies of God was his only option. Then he asks God to “blot out” his transgressions, but he does not say which sacrifice he will use to bring that about. In verse two he asks for cleansing from sin, but once again he does not say what means can be used to achieve that cleansing. In verse seven he says, “cleanse me with hyssop.” Hyssop was used for cleaning of skin disorders and when someone had become contaminated by touching a dead body so that is not what we would expect to be used as a means of forgiveness for a serious sin.