|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
51:16-19 Those who are thoroughly convinced of their misery and danger by sin, would spare no cost to obtain the remission of it. But as they cannot make satisfaction for sin, so God cannot take any satisfaction in them, otherwise than as expressing love and duty to him. The good work wrought in every true penitent, is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, and sorrow for sin. It is a heart that is tender, and pliable to God's word. Oh that there were such a heart in every one of us! God is graciously pleased to accept this; it is instead of all burnt-offering and sacrifice. The broken heart is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ; there is no true repentance without faith in him. Men despise that which is broken, but God will not. He will not overlook it, he will not refuse or reject it; though it makes God no satisfaction for the wrong done to him by sin. Those who have been in spiritual troubles, know how to pity and pray for others afflicted in like manner. David was afraid lest his sin should bring judgements upon the city and kingdom. No personal fears or troubles of conscience can make the soul, which has received grace, careless about the interests of the church of God. And let this be the continued joy of all the redeemed, that they have redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace.
Verse 16. - For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it. If there had been any sacrifices which God desired or required for such offences as adultery and murder, David would have willingly offered them. But there were none. As Hammond observes, "The Mosaical Law allows no reconciliation, no sacrifice, for such sins." Thou delightest not in burnt offering. In the mere act of sacrifice - the untimely slaying of his own creatures - God could at no time have had any pleasure. His satisfaction could only arise from the spirit in which sacrifices were offered - the gratitude, devotion, self-renunciation, obedience, of those who approached him with them (comp. Psalm 40:6; Psalm 50:8-13; Isaiah 1:11-17, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For thou desirest not sacrifice,.... Legal sacrifice; for there was no sacrifice appointed under the law for murder and adultery;
else would I give it; he would gladly have offered it up;
thou delightest not in burnt offering; at least such kind of sacrifices, though they were of divine appointment, and at that time in full force and use; yet they were not the only and principal sacrifices God desired and delighted in; nor were they at all acceptable to him without faith in Christ, and an humble sense of sin; and when offered in the best manner, yet spiritual obedience, acts of mercy, and sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, were more pleasing to him, 1 Samuel 15:15; wherefore the psalmist proposed to offer praise in Psalm 51:15, and adds what follows.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. Praise is better than sacrifice (Ps 50:14), and implying faith, penitence, and love, glorifies God. In true penitents the joys of pardon mingle with sorrow for sin.
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