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Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight (Psalm 51: 4a, NKJV)

The superscription for this psalm is: “A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” The background is given in 2 Samuel 11-12.

William Culberson in his outline pointed out true confession includes the following elements:

  1. Casting oneself on the mercy of God (verses 1-2)
  2. Recognition that what one has done has been done against God (verses 3-5)
  3. A plea for purity (verses 6-7)
  4. A cry for restoration (verse 12)
  5. A promise to God (verses 15-17)
  6. A heart broken because of sin
  7. Forgiven (verses 18-19)

(From Alfred Martin, Moody Correspondence Course; Psalms, Songs of Praises, 1968)

Psalm 51 is a confession and Psalm 32 is a testimony after David received forgiveness.

Tom Constable: There are two types of forgiveness in the New Testament:

Judicial forgiveness removes guilt and a sinner is accepted by God. Familial forgiveness means a sinning saint can be forgiven and have fellowship with God. 

I took a path that I should not have trod.

I come as a sinner before a Holy God.

God forgives me as I come to Him.

Restoration is complete in Him. 

Judicial and familial forgiveness are gifts from God. 


Why could God call David a man after God’s own heart after he committed adultery and murder? 

Under what conditions can God forgive a sinner? 

What is the difference between judicial and familial forgiveness? Give examples.