David having largely and painfully experienced what a miserable thing it is to feel God's hand heavy on account of sin, exclaims that the highest and best part of a happy life consists in this, that God forgives a man's guilt, and receives him graciously into his favor. After giving thanks for pardon obtained, he invites others to fellowship with him in his happiness, showing, by his own example, the means by which this may be obtained.

A Psalm of David giving instruction.

The title of this psalm gives some idea of its subject. Some think that the Hebrew word lyksm, maskil, which we have rendered giving instruction,1 is taken from verse 7th;2 but it is more accurate to consider it as a title given to the psalm in accordance with its whole scope and subject matter. David, after enduring long and dreadful torments, when God was severely trying him, by showing him the tokens of his wrath, having at length obtained favor, applies this evidence of the divine goodness for his own benefit, and the benefit of the whole Church, that from it he may teach himself and them what constitutes the chief point of salvation. All men must necessarily be either in miserable torment, or, which is worse, forgetting themselves and God, must continue in deadly lethargy, until they are persuaded that God is reconciled towards them. Hence David here teaches us that the happiness of men consists only in the free forgiveness of sins, for nothing can be more terrible than to have God for our enemy; nor can he be gracious to us in any other way than by pardoning our transgressions.

1 "Pour lequel nous avons traduit, Donnant instruction." -- Fr.

2 Where it is said, "I will instruct thee and teach thee."