corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Psalms 51



Verses 1-4

Psalm 51:1-19. On the occasion, compare 2 Samuel 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.

A plea for mercy is a confession of guilt.

blot out — as from a register.

transgressions — literally, “rebellions” (Psalm 19:13; Psalm 32:1).

Verse 2

Wash me — Purity as well as pardon is desired by true penitents.

Verse 3
before me — Conviction precedes forgiveness; and, as a gift of God, is a plea for it (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 32:5; 1 John 1:9).

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 6

thou shalt make, etc. — 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; Psalm 119:30).

Verses 7-12

A series of prayers for forgiveness and purifying.

Purge … hyssop — The use of this plant in the ritual (Exodus 12:22; Numbers 19:6, Numbers 19:18) suggests the idea of atonement as prominent here; “purge” refers to vicarious satisfaction (Numbers 19:17-20).

Verse 8

Make … joy — by forgiving me, which will change distress to joy.

Verse 9

Hide, etc. — Turn from beholding.

Verse 10

Create — a work of almighty power.

in me — literally, “to me,” or, “for me”; bestow as a gift, a heart free from taint of sin (Psalm 24:4; Psalm 73:1).

renew — implies that he had possessed it; the essential principle of a new nature had not been lost, but its influence interrupted (Luke 22:32); for Psalm 51:11 shows that he had not lost God‘s presence and Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13), though he had lost the “joy of his salvation” (Psalm 51:12), for whose return he prays.

right spirit — literally, “constant,” “firm,” not yielding to temptation.

Verse 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.

Verse 13

Then — Such will be the effect of this gracious work.

ways — of providence and human duty (Psalm 18:21, Psalm 18:30; Psalm 32:8; Luke 22:32).

Verse 14

Deliver — or, “Free me” (Psalm 39:8) from the guilt of murder (2 Samuel 12:9, 2 Samuel 12:10; Psalm 5:6).

righteousness — as in Psalm 7:17; Psalm 31:1.

Verse 15

open … lips — by removing my sense of guilt.

Verse 16

Praise is better than sacrifice (Psalm 50:14), and implying faith, penitence, and love, glorifies God. In true penitents the joys of pardon mingle with sorrow for sin.

Verse 18

Do good, etc. — Visit not my sin on Thy Church.

build … walls — is to show favor; compare Psalm 89:40, for opposite form and idea.

Verse 19

God reconciled, material sacrifices will be acceptable (Psalm 4:5; compare Isaiah 1:11-17).


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 51:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology