|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
51:1-6 David, being convinced of his sin, poured out his soul to God in prayer for mercy and grace. Whither should backsliding children return, but to the Lord their God, who alone can heal them? he drew up, by Divine teaching, an account of the workings of his heart toward God. Those that truly repent of their sins, will not be ashamed to own their repentance. Also, he instructs others what to do, and what to say. David had not only done much, but suffered much in the cause of God; yet he flees to God's infinite mercy, and depends upon that alone for pardon and peace. He begs the pardon of sin. The blood of Christ, sprinkled upon the conscience, blots out the transgression, and, having reconciled us to God, reconciles us to ourselves. The believer longs to have the whole debt of his sins blotted out, and every stain cleansed; he would be thoroughly washed from all his sins; but the hypocrite always has some secret reserve, and would have some favorite lust spared. David had such a deep sense of his sin, that he was continually thinking of it, with sorrow and shame. His sin was committed against God, whose truth we deny by wilful sin; with him we deal deceitfully. And the truly penitent will ever trace back the streams of actual sin to the fountain of original depravity. He confesses his original corruption. This is that foolishness which is bound in the heart of a child, that proneness to evil, and that backwardness to good, which is the burden of the regenerate, and the ruin of the unregenerate. He is encouraged, in his repentance, to hope that God would graciously accept him. Thou desirest truth in the inward part; to this God looks, in a returning sinner. Where there is truth, God will give wisdom. Those who sincerely endeavour to do their duty shall be taught their duty; but they will expect good only from Divine grace overcoming their corrupt nature.
Verse 1. - Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness. It is observable that the whole psalm is addressed to God (Elohim), and not to Jehovah (the "Lord" in ver. 15 is Adonai), as though the psalmist felt himself unworthy to utter the covenant-name, and simply prostrated himself as a guilty man before his offended Maker. It is not correet to say that "loving-kindness implies a covenant" (Cheyne), since God is "good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works" (Psalm 145:9). According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. David's first prayer is for pity; his second, to have his offences "blotted out," or "wiped out" - entirely removed from God's book (comp. Exodus 32:32; Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 44:22). He says "my transgressions," in the plural, because "his great sin did not stand alone - adultery was followed by treachery and murder" (Canon Cook).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Have mercy upon me, O God,.... David, under a sense of sin, does not run away from God, but applies unto him, and casts himself at his feet, and upon his mercy; which shows the view he had of his miserable condition, and that he saw there was mercy in God, which gave him hope; and upon his bended knees, and in the exercise of faith, he asks for it;
according to thy lovingkindness; not according to his merits, nor according to the general mercy of God, which carnal men rely upon; but according to his everlasting and unchangeable love in Christ; from which as the source, and through whom as the medium, special mercy comes to the children of men. The acts of special mercy are according to the sovereign will of God: he is not moved to mercy neither by the merits nor misery of men, but by his free grace and favour; it is love that sets mercy to work: this is a most glaring gleam of Gospel light, which none of the inspired writers besides, except the Apostle Paul, saw, Ephesians 2:4;
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions; for his sin was complicated, attended with many others; and, besides, upon a view of this, he was led to observe all his other sins; and particularly the corruption of his nature, his original sin, which he mentions, Psalm 51:5. These he desires might be "blotted out"; out of the book of account, out of God's debt book; that they might not stand against him, being debts he was not able to pay or make satisfaction for; and out of the table of his own heart and conscience, where they were ever before him, and seemed to be engraven; that they might be caused to pass from him, and he might have no more conscience of them; or that they might be blotted out, as a cloud by the clear shining of the sun of righteousness, with the healing of pardoning grace in his wings; or that they might be wiped away, as any faith is wiped from any person or thing: and all this "according to the multitude of his tender mercies". The mercy of God is plenteous and abundant; he is rich in it, and various are the instances of it; and it is exceeding tender, like that of a father to his children, or like that of a mother to the son of her womb; and from this abundant and tender mercy springs the forgiveness of sin, Luke 1:77. The psalmist makes mention of the multitude of the mercies of God, because of the multitude of his sins, which required a multitude of mercy to forgive, and to encourage his hope of it.
The Treasury of David
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
"Have mercy upon me, O God." He appeals at once to the mercy of God, even before he mentions his sin. The sight of mercy is good for eyes that are sore with penitential weeping. Pardon of sin must ever be an act of pure mercy, and therefore to that attribute the awakened sinner flies. "According to thy lovingkindness." Act, O Lord, like thyself; give mercy like thy mercy. Show mercy such as is congruous with thy grace.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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).
Psalm 51:1 Parallel Commentaries
Psalm 51:1 NIV
Psalm 51:1 NLT
Psalm 51:1 ESV
Psalm 51:1 NASB
Psalm 51:1 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible