Psalm 51– a Cure for Leprosy

What does David’s heartfelt psalm of repentance have to do with one of the most dreaded diseases in the Bible?  Surprisingly, quite a lot….


Luke the physician’s take, a little more detailed than the other gospel writers as you can imagine.

Luke 5:12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Luke 5:13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him.
Luke 5:14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.”

Luke 17:12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.
Luke 17:13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
Luke 17:14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
Luke 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,
Luke 17:16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
Luke 17:17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?
Luke 17:18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”

Luke 4:25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land;
Luke 4:26
but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
Luke 4:27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

Only God could cleanse

2 Kings 5:7 And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.”

2 Kings 5:10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.”
2 Kings 5:14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
2 Kings 5:15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.”

Leprosy symbolizes sin

Ancient leprosy began as small, red spots on the skin. Before too long the spots get bigger, and start to turn into a bright white spot. Pretty soon the spots spread over the whole body and hair begins to fall out – first from the head, then even from the eyebrows. As things get worse, finger nails and toenails become loose; they start to rot and eventually fall off. Then the joints of fingers and toes begin to rot and fall off piece by piece. Gums begin to shrink and they can’t hold the teeth anymore, so each of them is lost. Leprosy keeps eating away at your face until literally the nose, the palate, and even the eyes rot – and the victim wastes away until death.

Sin in the same way, can start small and move through your whole body unimpeded until it completely consumes you with death being the final outcome.

David realized this! And pulls from the analogy in Psalm 51.
This Psalm is David’s realization of what exactly he had done.
BUT it also shows us that there is a path from the sins back to righteousness by and through the power of repentance.
Even when committed by someone with God’s holy spirit.

Petition God for Mercy

Psalm 51:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David When Nathan the Prophet Went to Him, After He Had Gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
Entreating God, a supplication and plea for mercy
Mercy, mercy, mercy
Even lovingkindness (chêsêd) is most often translated mercy

David begins by making it very clear that this is what he needs
kindness; favour, pity, compassion, tender love. He is making it very comprehensive regarding exactly what he needs from God from the very beginning.
An appeal to God who this could only be accomplished through. This is a theme throughout!
We are insufficient of ourselves. It seems like the only thing that we can do is commit the sin.
Beseech God!
Faith toward God that He is all of these things (ie lovingkindness, merciful)
We can be grateful for this and being able to approach God in the first place

Ask God for Help

David is writing a song about it…I would say that he has done this

Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.

We begin immediately with the parallel to leprosy. 

Matthew 9:2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
Matthew 9:3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”
Matthew 9:4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?
Matthew 9:5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?
Matthew 9:6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
Leviticus 14:2 “This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest.
Leviticus 14:3 And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper,
Leviticus 14:4 then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed 

Only God could do this
What does sin do and how does it make us unclean???
Understanding of how ugly sin is and how it colors us (black, dark, dirty???)

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Ephesians 5:26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
Ephesians 5:27
 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Hebrews 9:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Acknowledge Your Sin

Goes hand in hand with the end of :2

Psalm 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.

Take responsibility, Admit fault.
How long did it take for him to come to this realization?
The sin will remain before Him/us until we go through this process.
Confess your faults

I think that there are only three words translated sin in the Old Testament and he uses all of them to describe what he did
Transgression pesha‛ peh’-shah From H6586; a revolt (national, moral or religious): – rebellion, sin, transgression,
Iniquity ‛âvôn ‛âvôn aw-vone’, aw-vone’From H5753; perversity, (moral) evil: -depravity, iniquity, guilt of iniquity
Sin châṭâ’ khaw-taw’ A primitive root; properly to miss; (as in miss the mark) commit [sin], by fault, harm he has done, offend go wrong, incur guilt,
Evil :5 ra‛ râ‛âh rah, raw-aw’ From H7489; bad displease grievous, harm, hurtful), misery, wicked, wrong.
Most importantly, he understood that they were against God.

Show Godly Sorrow

Psalm 51:4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

2 Samuel 12:1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor.
2 Samuel 12:2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds.
2 Samuel 12:3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him.
2 Samuel 12:4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
2 Samuel 12:5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!
2 Samuel 12:6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
2 Samuel 12:7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
2 Samuel 12:8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!
2 Samuel 12:9 Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.
2 Samuel 12:10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’
2 Samuel 12:11 Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.
2 Samuel 12:12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’ ”
2 Samuel 12:13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
2 Samuel 12:14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”

Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

2 Corinthians 7:8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.
2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
2 Corinthians 7:11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Seek Forgiveness

Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Back to the leprosy analogy.

This is why God dedicated time in the Old Testament to the treatment of it

Leviticus 14:48 “But if the priest comes in and examines it, and indeed the plague has not spread in the house after the house was plastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed.
Leviticus 14:49 And he shall take, to cleanse the house, two birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop.
Leviticus 14:50 Then he shall kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water;
Leviticus 14:51 and he shall take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times.
Leviticus 14:52 And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird and the running water and the living bird, with the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet.

Spiritual leprosy separates us from Jesus Christ.
We are to learn the spiritual lessons from it

Exodus 12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.
Exodus 12:22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.
Exodus 12:23 For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.

This was to cleanse them from their sin by the “blood of the lamb” and set the apart from the sinful nation of Egypt and allow them to walk with God

Cleansing is a theme of Psalm 51

We must come to the same realization as David:

Isaiah 64:5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned— In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

Psalm 51:8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Psalm 51:9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
Isaiah 59:3 For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity.
Isaiah 59:4 No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.

Goes hand in hand with :11

Psalm 51:11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Request Restoration

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, ….

David was asking to be restored back to new like we are when we come up out of the watery grave and leave the old man behind.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Word for “create” is the same word used in Genesis 1 to describe the awesome power God used in forming the universe and all that is in it.

Psalm 51:10 And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Titus 3:4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Once we have then been forgiven and renewed and can come into the presence of God we will once again be well and truly back on the path to salvation
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Go Forward in God’s Ways

Deuteronomy 7:9 “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy (chêsêd) for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

But more importantly, David knows that he can only get it from God AND it only comes when David is willing to and does make a course correction.

Psalm 51:13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.

Then…. After all of this, then….


Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

David as King and ruler of the Israelites was in position similar to what we will be in the Kingdom of God.

Of course in order to be able to teach others and convert them, we have to be right ourselves… meaning that we have to go through this thorough process of repentance for all of our sins – every one of them!

Psalm 51:14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation

Even though the psalm begins: Psalm 51:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David When Nathan the Prophet Went to Him, After He Had Gone in to Bathsheba.

David comes face to face with the reality of his sins, began just like leprosy – it started small and spread.

It began with him lusting in his heart and we can see how that turned into adultery as Christ spoke of in the beatitudes… and that quickly turned into coveting, adultery, murder, stealing and etc.

Psalm 51:14 …. And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
Psalm 51:15 O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
Like I pointed out before, leprosy affects the vocal chords. Once we are cleansed, our ability to speak returns and we can now have God’s words and ways on our lips.
Psalm 51:16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
Points to our savior coming. Did not take away sin. Would rather us do what is right
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.

David is summing up and repeating, just in a slightly different way that God wants us to be convicted with godly sorrow and be completely repentant 

Back to God

Psalm 51:18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem.
Psalm 51:19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.


This message has been about how God sees us and the necessity for us to repent, to change.

Leviticus 13:45 “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’
Leviticus 13:46 He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.

Strive not to be seen this way.
sin to righteousness,
iniquity to forgiveness
separation to closeness to God
spiritually diseased to spiritual cleanliness

Through repentance