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Psalm 51

Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon

To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

1

Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.

2

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin.

 

3

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

4

Against you, you alone, have I sinned,

and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you are justified in your sentence

and blameless when you pass judgment.

5

Indeed, I was born guilty,

a sinner when my mother conceived me.

 

6

You desire truth in the inward being;

therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

7

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

9

Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities.

 


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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.

transgressions—literally, "rebellions" (Ps 19:13; 32:1).

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 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.

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 purifying.

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 beholding.




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