World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
51. Psalm 51
1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness:
According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3For I know my transgressions;
And my sin is ever before me.
4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
And done that which is evil in thy sight;
That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest,
And be clear when thou judgest.
5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity;
And in sin did my mother conceive me. 6
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts;
And in the hidden part thou wilt make me to know wisdom.
7Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Make me to hear joy and gladness,
That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9Hide thy face from my sins,
And blot out all mine iniquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from thy presence;
And take not thy holy Spirit from me.
12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
And uphold me with a willing spirit.
13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;
And sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation;
And my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15O Lord, open thou my lips;
And my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
16For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it:
Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion:
Build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19Then will thou delight in the sacrifices of righteousness,
In burnt-offering and in whole burnt-offering:
Then will they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
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 faith.
1-4. A plea for mercy is a confession of guilt.
blot out—as from a register.
2. Wash me—Purity as well as pardon is desired by true penitents.
4. Against thee—chiefly, and as sins against others are violations of God's law, in one sense only.
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 conduct.
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.
7-12. A series of prayers for forgiveness and purifying.
8. Make … joy—by forgiving me, which will change distress to joy.
9. Hide, &c.—Turn from beholding.
10. Create—a work of almighty power.
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); for Ps 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 gracious work.
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 Thy Church.
build … walls—is to show favor; compare Ps 89:40, for opposite form and idea.