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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.


Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.


Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin.



For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.


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.


Indeed, I was born guilty,

a sinner when my mother conceived me.



You desire truth in the inward being;

therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.


Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.


Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.


Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities.



Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and put a new and right spirit within me.


Do not cast me away from your presence,

and do not take your holy spirit from me.


Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and sustain in me a willing spirit.



Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

and sinners will return to you.


Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,

O God of my salvation,

and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.



O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare your praise.


For you have no delight in sacrifice;

if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.


The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.



Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;

rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,


then you will delight in right sacrifices,

in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;

then bulls will be offered on your altar.

19 Then shalt thou accept sacrifices of righteousness In these words there is an apparent, but only an apparent, inconsistency with others which he had used in the preceding context. He had declared sacrifices to be of no value when considered in themselves, but now he acknowledges them to be acceptable to God when viewed as expressions or symbols of faith, penitence, and thanksgiving. He calls them distinctly sacrifices of righteousness, right, warrantable, and such as are offered in strict accordance with the commandment of God. The expression is the same employed in Psalm 4:5, where David uses it with a tacit condemnation of those who gloried in the mere outward form of ceremonies. We find him again exciting himself and others by his example to the exercise of gratitude, and to the expression of it openly in the solemn assembly. Besides sacrifices in general, two particular kinds of sacrifice are specified. Although some consider כליל, calil, and עולה, olah, to be both of one signification, others maintain with more correctness, that the first is to be understood as meaning the priest’s sacrifice, because in it the offering was consumed or burnt with fire. 274274     Ainsworth reads, “the burnt-offering and the whole oblation;” and observes, that “The whole oblation, the calil, was a kind of oblation that was wholly and every whit given up in fire unto God, and differed from the ghnola, or burnt-offering, which was only of beasts or birds, Leviticus 1; whereas the calil was also of flour, called the meat-offering, but burned altogether, which the common meat-offerings were not, Leviticus 6:20, 22, 23. It was also of beasts, 1 Samuel 7:9.” In the enumeration which he makes, David designs to teach us that none of all the legal rites can find acceptance with God, unless they be used with a reference to the proper end of their institution. The whole of this verse has been figuratively applied by some to the kingdom of Christ, but the interpretation is unnatural and too refined. Thanksgivings are indeed called by Hosea “the calves of the lips,” (Hosea 14:2;) but it seems evident that in the passage before us there are conjoined along with the frame or disposition of the heart those solemn ceremonies which constituted part of the ancient worship.

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