Ps 51:1-19. On the occasion, compare 2Sa 11:12. The Psalm illustrates true repentance,
in which are comprised conviction, confession, sorrow, prayer for
mercy, and purposes of amendment, and it is accompanied by a lively
1-4. A plea for mercy is a confession of
blot out—as from a register.
2. Wash me—Purity as well as pardon is
desired by true penitents.
3. For … before me—Conviction
precedes forgiveness; and, as a gift of God, is a plea for it (2Sa 12:13; Ps 32:5; 1Jo 1:9).
4. Against thee—chiefly, and as sins
against others are violations of God's law, in one sense
that … judgest—that is, all
palliation of his crime is excluded; it is the design in making this
confession to recognize God's justice, however severe the sentence.
5, 6. His guilt was aggravated by his
essential, native sinfulness, which is as contrary to God's
requisitions of inward purity as are outward sins to those for right
6. thou shalt make, &c.—may be taken
to express God's gracious purpose in view of His strict requisition; a
purpose of which David might have availed himself as a check to his
native love for sin, and, in not doing so, aggravated his guilt.
truth … and …wisdom—are
terms often used for piety (compare Job 28:28; Ps 119:30).
7-12. A series of prayers for forgiveness and
Purge … hyssop—The use of this
plant in the ritual (Ex 12:22; Nu 19:6, 18) suggests the idea of atonement as
prominent here; "purge" refers to vicarious satisfaction (Nu 19:17-20).
8. Make … joy—by forgiving me,
which will change distress to joy.
9. Hide, &c.—Turn from
10. Create—a work of almighty power.
in me—literally, "to me," or, "for
me"; bestow as a gift, a heart free from taint of sin (Ps 24:4; 73:1).
renew—implies that he had possessed
it; the essential principle of a new nature had not been lost, but its
influence interrupted (Lu 22:32);
51:11 shows that he had not
lost God's presence and Spirit (1Sa 16:13), though he had lost the "joy of his
salvation" (Ps 51:12),
for whose return he prays.
right spirit—literally, "constant,"
"firm," not yielding to temptation.
12. free spirit—"thy" ought not to be
supplied, for the word "free" is, literally, "willing," and "spirit" is
that of David. "Let a willing spirit uphold me," that is, with a soul
willingly conformed to God's law, he would be preserved in a right
course of conduct.
13. Then—Such will be the effect of this
ways—of providence and human duty
(Ps 18:21, 30; 32:8; Lu 22:32).
14. Deliver—or, "Free me" (Ps 39:8) from the guilt of murder (2Sa
12:9, 10; Ps 5:6).
righteousness—as in Ps 7:17; 31:1.
15. open … lips—by removing my
sense of guilt.
16. Praise is better than sacrifice (Ps 50:14), and implying faith, penitence,
and love, glorifies God. In true penitents the joys of pardon mingle
with sorrow for sin.
18. Do good, &c.—Visit not my sin on
build … walls—is to show favor;
89:40, for opposite form and
19. God reconciled, material sacrifices
will be acceptable (Ps 4:5;
compare Isa 1:11-17).