|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 3. - For I acknowledge my transgressions (comp. Psalm 32:5, "I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin"). The first step in repentance is contrition; the second, confession; the third, amendment of life. And my sin is ever before me. I bear it in mind; I do not hide it from myself. I keep it continually before my mental vision. This, too, is characteristic of true penitence. Mock penitents confess their sins, and straightway forget them. Real genuine ones find it impossible to forget.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For I acknowledge my transgressions,.... Before God and man. Acknowledgment of sin is what the Lord requires, and promises forgiveness upon, and therefore is used here as a plea for it; and moreover the psalmist had done so before, and had succeeded in this way, which must encourage him to take the same course again; see Psalm 32:5;
and my sin is ever before me; staring him in the face; gnawing upon his conscience, and filling him with remorse and distress; so that his life was a burden to him: for though God had put away sin out of his own sight, so that he would not condemn him for it, and he should not die; notwithstanding as yet it was not caused to pass from David, or the guilt of it removed from his conscience.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. For … before me—Conviction precedes forgiveness; and, as a gift of God, is a plea for it (2Sa 12:13; Ps 32:5; 1Jo 1:9).
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