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Reflecting on Psalm 51
David’s “heart like God’s heart” refers to the contrast between Saul and David—see First Samuel 13:13-14. Thus, to determine what this means will require figuring out the difference between these two men of antiquity. The difference is most clearly seen in how the two respond to the prophet of God when he confronts them with their sin.
Read First Samuel 15. What is Saul’s sin? How does he respond when confronted by Samuel? Does he eventually make a true confession? Why, or why not?
Read Second Samuel 11-12. What is David’s sin? How does he respond when confronted by Nathan?
Read the heading of Psalm 51. The heading of the psalm is not put there by the publishers of your English Bible. The heading is part of the inspired word of God, put there by unnamed ancient scribes and editors. The heading refers to a narrative context against which the psalm is to be read. What does the reader need to have in view to interpret psalm 51?
If the difference between Saul and David is how they responded to their sin, then this is what is means to have a heart like God’s heart. David’s response is commemorated in Psalm 51, which may be the most significant picture of a God-like heart in all of the scriptures. Read Psalm 51. If this psalm reveals what it means to have a heart like God’s, then how can these characteristics be summarized? How does Psalm 51:16-17 relate to Samuel’s words in First Samuel 15:22-23?

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