Psalm 51:15 Commentary + Memorization Tutorial

Commentary and memorization video for Psalm 51:15

Verse of the Day 7.6.17 — Psalm 51:15

Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.1

  1. Context
  2. Commentary
  3. Memorization (Video Tutorial)
  4. Application



This psalm is a Psalm of King David (Psalm 51) — who reigned in Israel from approximately 1010 BC to 970 BC.2


This is a psalm written by King David after he commits adultery with Bathsheba, and has her husband, Uriah, killed (2 Samuel 11) when she becomes pregnant (2 Sam 11:5). Coveting and stealing another man’s wife, adultery, murder, and a deceitful cover-up: five of the Ten Commandments were broken by “one sordid and cynical enterprise.”3 Following these evil transgression (Ps 51:3-4), from the LORD, the prophet Nathan delivers a message of rebuke (2 Samuel 12, Ps 51:1).

Penitential Psalms

Like the previously discussed Psalm 130, Psalm 51, along with Psalm 6, 32, 58, 102, and 143, is one of the seven penitential psalms. Penitence is “regret for sin or wrongdoing. [It] implies sad and humble realization of and regret for one’s misdeeds.”4. Throughout church history, these penitential psalms have been recited on Fridays during Lent.

Literary Context

As noted in the earlier Verse of the Day post for Psalm 130, Psalms consists of five books that may plausibly correspond in theme to the first five books of the Bible.

  1. Book One: 1-41
  2. Book Two: 42-72
  3. Book Three: 73-89
  4. Book Four: 90-106
  5. Book Five: 107-150

Psalms in Book Two were written by temple musicians known as the Sons of Korah (42-49), the founder of a different temple group of musicians — Asaph (50), David (51-65; 68-70), Solomon (72), and anonymous authors (66, 67, 71).6, Kidner provides the following outline:

  • 51:1-2 — Appeal
  • 51:3-5 — Confession
  • 51:6-9 — Restoration
  • 51:10-13 — Inward Renewal
  • 51:14-17 — Humble Worship
  • 51:18-19 — A People’s Prayer7

In the section of the Psalm entailing humble worship, David prays:

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness (Ps 51:14) 8


In the context of Psalm 51, it appears that David is asking the LORD to deliver him from his shameful silence — silence caused by the guilt from the blood of Uriah that is metaphorically dripping from his hands.9. As Kidner states, “[David] longs to worship freely, gratefully again; and he believes that by the grace of God he will.”10


Want to memorize Psalm 51:15? Employing the method described in the How To Memorize Any Bible Verse In Less Than Five Minutes post, you can hide these words in your heart in a heartbeat. Watch a video tutorial below:


How might we apply Psalm 51:15 to our lives today? It seems to me that even for a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Ac 13:22), and the greatest king of Israel, sin can distance us from God. Not only has sin previously disallowed us from communion with God (Genesis 3), but it can currently hinder our relationship  with God.

When we wrong someone in someway, is it not often hard to look that person in the eye? Let alone strike up a conversation? After some wrongdoing, are not some of our relationships seemingly changed forever? Our past relationships never to be the same?

Our guilt and shame can permanently affect our relationships. So, given our past transgressions, it may be hard to believe that God still hears our prayers, that He still desires our praise, that He still wants to be in a relationship.

But, like David, we can ask our forgiving God (1 Jn 1:8-9, etc.) to deliver us from the guilt of sin, giving us all the more reason to praise His holy Name. We can ask God to open our sin-shut lips, that we may humbly worship the only One worthy of our worship.

What are your thoughts on this passage? Please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you for visiting, God Bless!


  1. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ps 51:15.
  2. P. E. Satterthwaite, “David,” ed. Bill T. Arnold and H. G. M. Williamson, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 198.
  3. Michael Wilcock, The Message of Psalms: Songs for the People of God, ed. J. A. Motyer, vol. 1, The Bible Speaks Today (Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2001), 185.
  4. Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
  5. Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 15, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 182.[/note]

    Structure: Though there may be no scholarly consensus concerning the structure of this Psalm,5Wilcock, 185

  6. Kidner, 206-212
  7. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ps 51:14.
  8. Kidner, 211
  9. Kidner, 211
About @DannyScottonJr 198 Articles
Imperfect Servant ✝📖⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. Student | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist