Chapter 51

1For the leader. A psalm of David,

אלַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד׃

2when Natan the Navi came to him after he had come to Batsheva.

b'-VO ay-LAV na-TAN ha-na-VEE ka-a-sher BA el bat SHA-va

בבְּבוֹא־אֵלָיו נָתָן הַנָּבִיא כַּאֲשֶׁר־בָּא אֶל־בַּת־שָׁבַע׃

51:2   Batsheva

King David teaches us about man’s vulnerability and his desires, as well as his ability to soar to the heavens and redeem his sins through repentance. While sin is hidden, repentance, in the eyes of David, must not be clandestine; it should be public. When David is confronted by the prophet Natan with rebuke (II Samuel 12), he responds with a single word: Chatati (חטאתי), ‘I have sinned.’ Psalm 51, however, is his public response. It begins with a glaring title with which David indicts himself right from the start: Natan the prophet came to me after I had gone in to Batsheva (verse 2). In verse 5, he declares that his sin is always with him while he begs the Lord to cleanse him of his iniquity. David is not satisfied with his own personal repentance but he declares that he will teach others the path towards repentance and atonement as well (verse 15). Though he erred, because of his commitment to return and to bring others closer to Hashem, we continue to herald King David as the greatest king of Israel.

3Have mercy upon me, O Hashem, as befits Your faithfulness; in keeping with Your abundant compassion, blot out my transgressions.

גחָנֵּנִי אֱלֹהִים כְּחַסְדֶּךָ כְּרֹב רַחֲמֶיךָ מְחֵה פְשָׁעָי׃

4Wash me thoroughly of my iniquity, and purify me of my sin;

דהרבה [הֶרֶב] כַּבְּסֵנִי מֵעֲוׂנִי וּמֵחַטָּאתִי טַהֲרֵנִי׃

5for I recognize my transgressions, and am ever conscious of my sin.

הכִּי־פְשָׁעַי אֲנִי אֵדָע וְחַטָּאתִי נֶגְדִּי תָמִיד׃

6Against You alone have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight; so You are just in Your sentence, and right in Your judgment.

ולְךָ לְבַדְּךָ חָטָאתִי וְהָרַע בְּעֵינֶיךָ עָשִׂיתִי לְמַעַן תִּצְדַּק בְּדָבְרֶךָ תִּזְכֶּה בְשָׁפְטֶךָ׃

7Indeed I was born with iniquity; with sin my mother conceived me.

זהֵן־בְּעָווֹן חוֹלָלְתִּי וּבְחֵטְא יֶחֱמַתְנִי אִמִּי׃

8Indeed You desire truth about that which is hidden; teach me wisdom about secret things.

חהֵן־אֱמֶת חָפַצְתָּ בַטֻּחוֹת וּבְסָתֻם חָכְמָה תוֹדִיעֵנִי׃

9Purge me with hyssop till I am pure; wash me till I am whiter than snow.

טתְּחַטְּאֵנִי בְאֵזוֹב וְאֶטְהָר תְּכַבְּסֵנִי וּמִשֶּׁלֶג אַלְבִּין׃

10Let me hear tidings of joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed exult.

יתַּשְׁמִיעֵנִי שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה תָּגֵלְנָה עֲצָמוֹת דִּכִּיתָ׃

11Hide Your face from my sins; blot out all my iniquities.

יאהַסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ מֵחֲטָאָי וְכָל־עֲוׂנֹתַי מְחֵה׃

12Fashion a pure heart for me, O Hashem; create in me a steadfast spirit.

יבלֵב טָהוֹר בְּרָא־לִי אֱלֹהִים וְרוּחַ נָכוֹן חַדֵּשׁ בְּקִרְבִּי׃

13Do not cast me out of Your presence, or take Your holy spirit away from me.

יגאַל־תַּשְׁלִיכֵנִי מִלְּפָנֶיךָ וְרוּחַ קָדְשְׁךָ אַל־תִּקַּח מִמֶּנִּי׃

14Let me again rejoice in Your help; let a vigorous spirit sustain me.

ידהָשִׁיבָה לִּי שְׂשׂוֹן יִשְׁעֶךָ וְרוּחַ נְדִיבָה תִסְמְכֵנִי׃

15I will teach transgressors Your ways, that sinners may return to You.

טואֲלַמְּדָה פֹשְׁעִים דְּרָכֶיךָ וְחַטָּאִים אֵלֶיךָ יָשׁוּבוּ׃

16Save me from bloodguilt, O Hashem, Hashem, my deliverer, that I may sing forth Your beneficence.

טזהַצִּילֵנִי מִדָּמִים אֱ‍לֹהִים אֱלֹהֵי תְּשׁוּעָתִי תְּרַנֵּן לְשׁוֹנִי צִדְקָתֶךָ׃

17O Hashem, open my lips, and let my mouth declare Your praise.

יזאֲדֹנָי שְׂפָתַי תִּפְתָּח וּפִי יַגִּיד תְּהִלָּתֶךָ׃

18You do not want me to bring sacrifices; You do not desire burnt offerings;

יחכִּי לֹא־תַחְפֹּץ זֶבַח וְאֶתֵּנָה עוֹלָה לֹא תִרְצֶה׃

19True sacrifice to Hashem is a contrite spirit; Hashem, You will not despise a contrite and crushed heart.

יטזִבְחֵי אֱלֹהִים רוּחַ נִשְׁבָּרָה לֵב־נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה אֱלֹהִים לֹא תִבְזֶה׃

20May it please You to make Tzion prosper; rebuild the walls of Yerushalayim.

כהֵיטִיבָה בִרְצוֹנְךָ אֶת־צִיּוֹן תִּבְנֶה חוֹמוֹת יְרוּשָׁלָ ִם׃

21Then You will want sacrifices offered in righteousness, burnt and whole offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your mizbayach.

כאאָז תַּחְפֹּץ זִבְחֵי־צֶדֶק עוֹלָה וְכָלִיל אָז יַעֲלוּ עַל־מִזְבַּחֲךָ פָרִים׃