Psalm 51:13
Then will I teach transgressors your ways; and sinners shall be converted to you.
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(13) Shall be converted.—Better, shall turn to thee. (See Note Psalm 50:23.)

Psalm 51:13. Then will I teach transgressors thy way — Thy will and their duty, and the way to eternal happiness; or, rather, the manner of thy dealing with sinners, whom thou dost so severely chastise for their sins, and yet so graciously receive to mercy upon their repentance. Both which I will show them in my own example, for I will make known unto them my fall and recovery, through thy grace, although I shall thereby publish, not only thy goodness, but my own shame, which I shall most willingly bear, that I may, in some measure, repair the injury which I have done to thy cause and to my fellow-creatures, by my public and scandalous crimes. And sinners shall be converted unto thee — I persuade myself that my endeavours shall not want success; and that either thy justice and severity on the one hand, or thy goodness and clemency on the other, will bring some sinners to repentance. Certainly, as Dr. Delaney observes in this verse, this instance of David’s miserable fall and happy restoration is well “fitted to mortify the vanity and merit of human virtue, and to raise the power and price of humble penitence, to abate the pride of self-sufficiency, and support the hope of frailty! Who can confide in his own strength when he sees a David fall? Who can despair of divine mercy when he sees him forgiven? Sad triumph of sin over all that is great and excellent in man! Glorious triumph of repentance over all that is shameful and dreadful in sin!” Book 4. chap. 24.51:7-15 Purge me with hyssop, with the blood of Christ applied to my soul by a lively faith, as the water of purification was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop. The blood of Christ is called the blood of sprinkling, Heb 12:24. If this blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, cleanse us from our sin, then we shall be clean indeed, Heb 10:2. He asks not to be comforted, till he is first cleansed; if sin, the bitter root of sorrow, be taken away, he can pray in faith, Let me have a well-grounded peace, of thy creating, so that the bones broken by convictions may rejoice, may be comforted. Hide thy face from my sins; blot out all mine iniquities out of thy book; blot them out, as a cloud is blotted out and dispelled by the beams of the sun. And the believer desires renewal to holiness as much as the joy of salvation. David now saw, more than ever, what an unclean heart he had, and sadly laments it; but he sees it is not in his own power to amend it, and therefore begs God would create in him a clean heart. When the sinner feels this change is necessary, and reads the promise of God to that purpose, he begins to ask it. He knew he had by his sin grieved the Holy Spirit, and provoked him to withdraw. This he dreads more than anything. He prays that Divine comforts may be restored to him. When we give ourselves cause to doubt our interest in salvation, how can we expect the joy of it? This had made him weak; he prays, I am ready to fall, either into sin or into despair, therefore uphold me with thy Spirit. Thy Spirit is a free Spirit, a free Agent himself, working freely. And the more cheerful we are in our duty, the more constant we shall be to it. What is this but the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free, which is contrasted with the yoke of bondage? Ga 5:1. It is the Spirit of adoption spoken to the heart. Those to whom God is the God of salvation, he will deliver from guilt; for the salvation he is the God of, is salvation from sin. We may therefore plead with him, Lord, thou art the God of my salvation, therefore deliver me from the dominion of sin. And when the lips are opened, what should they speak but the praises of God for his forgiving mercy?Then will I teach transgressors thy ways - As an expression of gratitude, and as the result of his own painful experience. He would show them, from that experience, the evil and the bitterness of sin in itself; he would show them with what dreadful consequences sin must always be followed; he would show them the nature of true repentance; he would show them what was required in order that sin might be forgiven; he would encourage them to come to that God who had forgiven him. So the Saviour charged Peter, from his own bitter experience in having fallen under the power of temptation, to strengthen and encourage those who were struggling with the depravity of their own hearts, and who were in danger of falling: "And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren," Luke 22:32.

And sinners shall be converted unto thee - They would see from his case the evil of transgression; they would learn from his example that mercy might be found; they would be persuaded to flee from the wrath to come. The best preparation for success in winning souls to God, and turning them from the error of their ways, is a deep personal experience of the guilt and the danger of sin, and of the great mercy of God in its forgiveness. No man can hope to be successful who has not experienced this in his own soul; no one who has, will labor wholly in vain in such a work.

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

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

13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15 Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then, shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Psalm 51:13

"Then will I teach transgressors thy ways." It was his fixed resolve to be a teacher of others; and assuredly none instruct others so well as those who have been experimentally taught of God themselves. Reclaimed poachers make the best gamekeepers. Huntingdon's degree of S.S., or Sinner Saved, is more needful for a soul-winning evangelist than either M.A or D.D. The pardoned sinner's matter will be good, for he has been taught in the school of experience, and his manner will be telling, for he will speak sympathetically, as one who has felt what he declares. The audience the Psalmist would choose is memorable - he would instruct transgressors like himself; others might despise them, but, "a fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind." If unworthy to edify saints, he would creep in along with the sinners, and humbly tell them of divine love. The mercy of God to one is an illustration of his usual procedure, so that our own case helps us to understand his "ways," or his general modes of action: perhaps, too, David under that term refers to the preceptive part of the word of God, which, having broken, and having suffered thereby, he felt that he could vindicate and urge upon the reverence of other offenders. "And sinners shall be converted unto thee." My fall shall be the restoration of others. Thou wilt bless my pathetic testimony to the recovery of many who, like myself, have turned aside unto crooked ways. Doubtless this Psalm and the whole story of David, have produced for many ages the most salutary results in the conversion of transgressors, and so evil has been overruled for good.

Psalm 51:14

"Deliver me from bloodguiltiness." He had been the means of the death of Uriah, the Hittite, a faithful and attached follower, and he now confesses that fact. Besides, his sin of adultery was a capital offence, and he puts himself down as one worthy to die the death. Honest penitents do not fetch a compass and confess their sins in an elegant periphrasis, but they come to the point, call a spade a spade, and make a clean breast of all. What other course is rational in dealing with the Omniscient? "O God, thou God of my salvation." He had not ventured to come so near before. It had been, "O God," up till now, but here he cries, "Thou God of my salvation." Faith grows by the exercise of prayer. He confesses sin more plainly in this verse than before, and yet he deals with God more confidently: growing upward and downward at the same time are perfectly consistent. None but the King can remit the death penalty, it is therefore a joy to faith that God is King, and that he is the author and finisher of our salvation. "And my torque shall sing aloud of thy righteousness." One would rather have expected him to say, I will sing of thy mercy; but David can see the divine way of justification, that righteousness of God which Paul afterwards spoke of by which the ungodly are justified, and he vows to sing, yea, and to sing lustily of that righteous way of mercy. After all, it is the righteousness of divine mercy which is its greatest wonder. Note how David would preach in the last verse, and now here he would sing. We can never do too much for the Lord to whom we owe more than all. If we could be preacher, precentor, doorkeeper, pewopener, footwasher, and all in one, all would be too little to show forth all our gratitude. A great sinner pardoned makes a great singer. Sin has a loud voice, and so should our thankfulness have. We shall not sing our own praises if we be saved, but our theme will be the Lord our righteousness, in whose merits we stand righteously accepted.

Psalm 51:15

"O Lord, open thou my lips." He is so afraid of himself that he commits his whole being to the divine care, and fears to speak till the Lord unstops his shame-silenced mouth. How marvellously the Lord can open our lips, and what divine things we poor simpletons pour forth under his inspiration! This prayer of a penitent is a golden petition for a preacher. Lord, I offer it for myself and my brethren. But it may stand in good stead any one whose shame for sin makes him stammer in his prayers, and when it is fully answered, the tongue of the dumb begins to sing. "And my mouth shall shew forth thy praise." If God opens the mouth he is sure to have the fruit of it. According to the porter at the gate is the nature of that which comes out of man's lips; when vanity, anger, falsehood, or lust unbar the door, the foulest villanies troop out; but if the Holy Spirit opens the wicket, then grace, mercy, peace, and all the graces come forth in tuneful dances, like the daughters of Israel when they met David returning with the Philistine's head.

Psalm 51:16


Thy ways; either,

1. Thy will and their duty, and the way to their eternal happiness; or rather,

2. The manner of thy dealing with sinners; whom thou dost so severely chastise for their sins, and yet so graciously receive to mercy upon their repentance; both which I will show them in my own example, which I will declare unto them, although I shall therewith publish my own shame; which I shall most willingly bear, that I may in some measure repair the injury which I have done to thee and others by my public and scandalous crimes.

Sinners shall be converted unto thee; and I persuade myself that my endeavours shall not want success; and that either thy justice or severity, or thy goodness and clemency, will bring them to repentance. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways,.... David was a prophet as well as a king; see Acts 2:30; and taught men the fear of the Lord, Psalm 34:11, and instructed them in his ways, as he here promises he would; by which are meant, either the ways which God prescribes and directs men to walk in, as the paths of faith, holiness, and truth, and the ways of his commandments; or which he himself has walked in; meaning not the ways of his providence, which are sometimes past finding out; but the ways of his grace, the steps and methods he has taken in the salvation of men, by forming the scheme of it, by choosing unto it, by making a covenant with his Son, and appointing him to effect it; and particularly his ways and methods in receiving and pardoning backsliders, when returned by repentance to him; and who may be meant by "transgressors" here: and then the sense is, that David, upon his being received and pardoned, would teach others like himself how graciously God had dealt with him; how plenteous he is in mercy; how ready to forgive, and how faithful to his promises; and so encourage them to go to him, and acknowledge their transgressions, and seek pardoning grace at his hands, who does abundantly pardon, and whose ways are not as theirs; see Isaiah 55:7;

and sinners shall be converted unto thee: or "that sinners may be converted unto thee" (p); this being the end of teaching by the word, and the means of the conversion of profane and unregenerate sinners, through the power of divine grace; though rather this seems to be understood of the conversion of God's own people after backslidings, and not of first conversion; see Luke 22:32.

(p) "ut peccatores convertantur", Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Then will I teach transgressors thy {l} ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

(l) He promises to endeavour that others by his example may turn to God.

13. Having experienced the joy of penitence and restoration, he will endeavour to instruct transgressors in the ways of Jehovah in which they have refused to walk (Isaiah 42:24), those commandments which they have refused to keep, so that they may return to Him from Whom they have gone astray. Psalms 32 has been thought to be the fulfilment of this resolution. This resolve is however, it is said, “little appropriate to David, whose natural and right feeling in connexion with his great sin must rather have been that of silent humiliation than of an instant desire to preach his forgiveness to other sinners.” But surely an endeavour to undo the evil effects of a sin whereby he “had given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” would be one of the most fitting fruits of repentance.

13–17. Resolutions of thanksgiving.Verses 13-17. - The psalmist now turns from prayer to promise. If God will grant his petitions, restore him to favour, and renew his spiritual life, then he will make such return as is possible to him. First, he will teach transgressors God's ways (ver. 13). Next, he will extol his righteousness, and show forth his praise(vers. 14, 15). Finally, he will offer him, not bloody sacrifice, but the sacrifice in which he delights - "the sacrifice of a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart" (vers. 16, 17). Such sacrifice, he is sure, God will not despise. Verse 13. - Then will I teach transgressors thy ways. The truly grateful heart cannot be satisfied without making some return to God for his goodness. The most satisfactory return is by deeds, not words. David's determination is to do his best to promote the glory of God by bringing others to salvation, turning them from their own evil ways to the "ways" that God would have them walk in. And sinners shall be converted unto thee. The result, he hopes, will be the conversion to God of many "sinners" (comp. Psalm 32:8). The possession of all possessions, however, most needed by him, the foundation of all other possessions, is the assurance of the forgiveness of his sins. The second futures in Psalm 51:9 are consequents of the first, which are used as optatives. Psalm 51:9 recalls to mind the sprinkling of the leper, and of one unclean by reason of his contact with a dead body, by means of the bunch of hyssop (Leviticus 14, Numbers 19), the βοτάνη καθαρτική (Bhr, Symbol. ii. 503); and Psalm 51:9 recalls the washings which, according to priestly directions, the unclean person in all cases of uncleanness had to undergo. Purification and washing which the Law enjoins, are regarded in connection with the idea implied in them, and with a setting aside of their symbolic and carnal outward side, inasmuch as the performance of both acts, which in other cases takes place through priestly mediation, is here supplicated directly from God Himself. Manifestly בּאזוב (not כבאזוב) is intended to be understood in a spiritual sense. It is a spiritual medium of purification without the medium itself being stated. The New Testament believer confesses, with Petrarch in the second of his seven penitential Psalms: omnes sordes meas una gutta, vel tenuis, sacri sanguinis absterget. But there is here no mention made of atonement by blood; for the antitype of the atoning blood was still hidden from David. The operation of justifying grace on a man stained by the blood-red guilt of sin could not, however, be more forcibly denoted than by the expression that it makes him whiter than snow (cf. the dependent passage Isaiah 1:18). And history scarcely records a grander instance of the change of blood-red sin into dazzling whiteness than this, that out of the subsequent marriage of David and Bathsheba sprang Solomon, the most richly blessed of all kings. At the present time David's very bones are still shaken, and as it were crushed, with the sense of sin. דּכּית is an attributive clause like יפעל in Psalm 7:16. Into what rejoicing will this smitten condition be changed, when he only realizes within his soul the comforting and joyous assuring utterance of the God who is once more gracious to him! For this he yearns, viz., that God would hide His face from the sin which He is now visiting upon him, so that it may as it were be no longer present to Him; that He would blot out all his iniquities, so that they may no longer testify against him. Here the first part of the Psalm closes; the close recurs to the language of the opening (Psalm 51:3).
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