What does Psalm 51:9 mean?
ESV: Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
NIV: Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
NASB: Hide Your face from my sins And wipe out all my guilty deeds.
CSB: Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt.
NLT: Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.
KJV: Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
NKJV: Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
Verse Commentary:
In this verse David asks the Lord to do two things. First, he asks God to hide His face from David's sins, and second to blot out David's transgressions. David implores the Lord to turn away from David's sins and no longer look at them.

On the cross Jesus bore our sins in His body (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus also sensed that the Father turned away from Him. Quoting from another psalm of David's, Psalm 22, Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). Of course, the answer to Jesus' question is this: God is "of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong" (Habakkuk 1:13). He turned away His eyesight from Jesus, our sin-bearer, so He would not have to turn away from us in eternity. David longed for the Lord to turn away from his sins so he would be acceptable in His sight. He also wanted the Lord to erase his iniquities from the record, just as a judge might erase a criminal's crimes from the record books.
Verse Context:
Psalm 51:8–15 express David's prayer for renewed joy, a clean heart, and a renewed spirit. This comes after confessing his sins in the prior passage. David also asks the Lord to restore his testimony so that he might teach transgressors the ways of God and lead sinners back to Him. David wants to praise the Lord joyfully.
Chapter Summary:
This psalm opens with David's plea to God to show him mercy. He asks God to blot out his transgressions, wash his iniquities, and cleanse him from sin. He admits his sinning was against God. He also confesses his human sin nature. David asks God to make him as white as snow by purging him with hyssop. He longs for joy to return to him, but knows he was suffering because God had turned away from him. He pleads with God for a clean heart and a right spirit. He does not want God to cast him aside and remove His Holy Spirit. David longs for a renewal of the joy of his salvation. If cleansing from sin occurred and joy returned to him, David would teach transgressors God's ways, and sinners would be converted. He promises near the end of the psalm to declare God's praise if God would forgive him. He knew it would be futile to offer a sacrifice to God, because God delights in a broken and contrite heart and not in sacrifices offered with an unrepentant heart. David closes the psalm with a prayer for God to bless Jerusalem.
Chapter Context:
Second Samuel 11—12 provides the sad background for Psalm 51. Instead of being out on the battlefield and leading his troops, David was walking on the roof of his palace. A woman named Bathsheba was taking a bath on a neighboring roof. David lusted for her and had her brought to the palace, where he committed adultery with her. Learning later that she was pregnant, David summoned Uriah, her soldier-husband and one of David's mighty men, to come home from the battlefield. He expected Uriah to have relations with Bathsheba so it would appear that Uriah was the baby's father. But Uriah did not touch Bathsheba, so David launched an alternate plan. He arranged for Uriah to be put on the frontline of battle and be killed. The plan worked, but the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin. Overcome with guilt, David poured out his heart to the Lord in confession. Psalm 51 records his confession, and Psalm 32 reports the forgiveness he received from the Lord. Even though he was forgiven, David's sins still carried life-ruining consequences.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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