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11

For your name’s sake, O Lord,

pardon my guilt, for it is great.


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11. For thy name’s sake, O Jehovah! As in the original text the copulative and is inserted between the two clauses of this verse, some think that the first clause is incomplete, and that some word ought to be supplied; and then they read these words, Be thou merciful to mine iniquity, etc., as a distinct sentence by itself. And thus, according to their opinion, the sense would be, Lord, although I have not fully kept thy covenant, yet do not on that account cease to show thy kindness towards me; and that mine iniquity may not prevent thy goodness from being extended towards me, do thou graciously pardon it. But I am rather of the opinion of others, who consider that the copulative is here, as it is in many other places, superfluous, so that the whole verse may form one connected sentence. As to the tense of the verb, there is also a diversity of opinion among interpreters. Some render it in the past tense thus, Thou hast been merciful, as if David here renders thanks to God because he had pardoned his sin. But the other interpretation, which is the one more generally received, is also the most correct, namely, that David, in order to obtain pardon, again resorts to the mercy of God as his only refuge. The letter ו, vau, which is equivalent to and, has often the force of changing the tense in the Hebrew verbs, so that the future tense is often taken in the sense of the optative. Moreover, I connect this verse with the preceding one in this way: The prophet, having reflected upon this, that God is kind and faithful to those who serve him, now examines his own heart, and acknowledges that he cannot be accounted of their number, unless God grant unto him the forgiveness of his sins; and, therefore, he betakes himself to prayer for pardon: as in Psalm 19:13, after having spoken of the reward which is laid up for the faithful who keep the law, he instantly exclaims, “Who can understand his errors?” Accordingly, although David is not ignorant that God promises liberally to bestow upon those who keep his covenant every thing which pertains to a life of happiness, yet, at the same time, considering how far he is as yet from the perfect righteousness of the law, he does not rest his confidence upon it, but seeks a remedy for the manifold offenses of which he feels himself to be guilty. And thus, in order that God may reckon us of the number of his servants, we ought always to come to him, entreating him, after the example of David, in his fatherly loving-kindness, to bear with our infirmities, because, without the free remission of our sins, we have no reason to expect any reward of our works. At the same time, let it be observed, that in order to show more distinctly that he depends entirely upon the free grace of God, he expressly says, for thy name’s sake; meaning by this, that God, as often as he vouchsafes to pardon his people, does so from no other cause than his own good pleasure; just as he had said a little before, in the same verse, for thy goodness’ sake. He was also constrained, by a consideration of the magnitude of his offense, to call upon the name of God: for he immediately adds, by way of confession, because mine iniquity is great, or manifold, (for the word רב, rab, may be translated in both ways;) as if he had said, My sins are, indeed, like a heavy burden which overwhelms me, so that the multitude or enormity of them might well deprive me of all hope of pardon; but, Lord, the infinite glory of thy name will not suffer thee to cast me off.




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