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- behind it a guilt, and a stain: the account between
God and the sinner is crossed by the blood of the great propitiatory sacrifice, which removes the former; and the soul is cleansed by the Holy Spirit, which takes out the latter.
2. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
The soul that is sensible of her pollution, fears she can never be sufficiently purified from it; and therefore prays, yet again and again, continually, for more abundant grace, to make and to keep her holy.
3. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
The penitent's second plea for mercy is, that he doth not deny, excuse, or palliate his fault, but confesses it openly and honestly, with all its aggravations, truly alleging, that it haunts him night and day, causing his conscience incessantly to reproach him with his base ingratitude to a good and gracious Father.
4. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight ; that thou mightest, or, therefore thou wilt, be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
A third reason why the penitent sues for mercy at the hand of God is, because God alone certainly knows, and is always able to punish, the sins of men. David sinned against many; as against Uriah, whom he slew; against Bathsheba, whom he corrupted; and against all the people, to whom he became the cause of much offence and scandal, But the sin was committed in secret; and if it had not been so, he, as king, had no superior, or judge, in this matter, but God only; who, being able to convict the offender, as he did, by the prophet Nathan, would assuredly be justified in the sentence he should pronounce. And he will appear to be so in his determinations at the last day, when he will surprise the wretched unthinking sinner, with a declaration similar to that which he made, by his prophet, to the royal offender : “ Thou · didst it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”
5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did iny mother conceive me.
The divine mercy is implored by the penitent, fourthly, because that alone can dry up the fountain of original corruption, from which the streams of actual transgression derive themselves; and which is here only lamented as their cause, not alleged as their excuse; seeing, that the greater our danger is of falling, the greater should be our care to stand. David was the offspring of the marriage-bed, which is declared to be “honourable and undefiled.” No more, there. fore, can be intended here, than that a creature begotten by a sinner, and formed in the womb of a sinner, cannot be without that taint which is hereditary to every son and daughter of Adam and Eve.
6. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make, dr, hast made, me to know wisdom. · The force of “Behold,” is “It is too plain; I feel it but too sensibly; the punishment I suffer is evidence sufficient, that thou art not contented with a superficial
appearence of goodness: thou lovest truth and sincer. ity in the bottom of the heart.” This, God was now teaching him, by the correction he made him suffer. The punishment inflicted tended to give him a right understanding of things, and to work it deep into him.
.7. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
He therefore petitions, in this verse, for the purification which comes from God only, through the one great propitiatory sacrifice, by the Holy Spirit; and which was foreshown, under the law, by the ceremony of sprinkling the unclean person with a bunch of * hyssop," dipped in the “water of separation.” This rite is described, Numb. xix. and explained, Heb. ix. 13, 14. “If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of CHRIST, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!” From the latter part of the verse we learn, that, by grace and mercy, the pardoned penitent is arrayed in garments no less pure and splendid than those of innocence itself.
8. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Next to the blessing of forgiveness, is to be desired that joy and comfort in the conscience which forgive. ness only can inspire: the effect of this, in repairing the vigour of the spirit, decayed through sorrow and
anguish, is compared to setting broken bones, and restoring them again to perfect strength.
9. Hide thy face from my sins; and blot out all mine iniquities.
The soul, still restless and uneasy, reiterates her request, that God would not only cease to behold her iniquity for the present, as a man who turns away his face from a writing, but that he would not behold it more, as a man who blots out what is written, so that it can never be read again.
10. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right, or, constant spirit within me.
The purification and renovation of the heart and spirit of a 'man, is a work to which that power only is equal which, in the beginning, created all things, and, in the end, will create all things new. A right spirit is renewed within us, when the affections turn from the world to God, and charity takes the place of concupiscence.
11. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy Spirit from me. .
The soul that is truly penitent, dreads nothing but the thought of being rejected from the presence, and deserted by the Spirit of God. This is the most deplorable and irremediable effect of sin; but it is one, that in general perhaps is the least considered and regarded of all others.
12. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit.
David prays to God to restore to him the unspeakable joy of that salvation which, as a prophet, he had
so often contemplated, and celebrated in his divine compositions; he prays also to be preserved and continued in that state of salvation, by the spirit of God, which might enable him to act as became a prophet and a king, free from base desires and enslaving lusts.
13. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
He that would employ his abilities, his influence, and his authority, in the reformation of others, must take care to reform himself, before he enters upon the work. “ When thou art converted,” said Christ to St. Peter, “ strengthen thy brethren.” The history of David has taught us many useful lessons; such as, the frailty of man, the danger of temptation, the torment of sin, the nature and efficacy of repentance, the mercy and the judgments of God, &c. &c. by which many sinners have in all ages since been converted, and inany more will be converted, so long as the Scriptures shall be read, and the 51st Psalm recited in the church.
14. Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation : and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
The unhappy criminal entreats, in this verse, for the divine help and deliverance, as if he not only heard the voice of innocent blood crying from the ground, but as if he saw the murdered Uriah coming upon him for vengeance, like an armed man. If he can but obtain the pardon of this sin, he promises to publish to all the world the righteousness of God, who justifies sinners, and shows mercy to the penitent; though he