Sacrifices of Righteousness
Psalm 51:19
Then shall you be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering…

They are called the sacrifices of righteousness, which are offered rightly, and according to the true intent and meaning, and order of God's law. The law of God is the rule of righteousness, they are the sacrifices of righteousness which are presented to God according to this rule. And this interpretation doth easily reconcile the difference, which may seem to be betwixt this verse and the sixteenth. There David said, God desired no sacrifice; here he saith, God shall accept burnt-offering and oblation; when these services may be truly called the sacrifices of righteousness, then God likes of them, and approves them; for that which is rightly performed according to His own prescript, He cannot but approve; but when this righteousness wants, and they are nothing but matters of form and compliment, He cannot endure them.


1. Touching the state of the person, he must be one who is himself in favour with God. A man's person must be first accepted before his gift can please. If there be any one thing which thou knowest to be an evil; nay, if there be any one particular in thy practice, which thou art not sure is lawful in God's sight, surely God loathes thy person, and He cannot but even abhor all the devotions.

2. Concerning the substance of that which is offered unto good, and what he requireth of thee. This rule may well put the greatest part out of all hope of acceptance with God. There are two branches of will-worship, of one of which the greatest part be guilty. First is, when that which is used in worshipping God is grounded only upon man's invention, and cannot at all be proved out of God's Word to be of his ordaining. Secondly, when though it may be that which is done, is in itself simply of God's appointing; yet that it is so is more than he knows, or cares to know, that useth it.

3. The third is for the manner of using. For that is as necessary as the two former. That which is in itself good may yet be spoiled and made distasteful to God by the usage thereof. There were of the Israelites many, who were baptized under Moses in the cloud and in the sea, did eat of the same spiritual meat, and drink of the same spiritual drink, yet with them God was not pleased. Now, the special matter in the manner of using God's ordinances is that spoken of by David, In Thy fear will I worship towards Thine holy temple. Let us have grace whereby we may serve God, pleasing Him with reverence and fear. Now, this fear moveth a man to two things. One in respect of his carriage before he cometh into the presence of God; the other in respect of his behaviour there. Before he comes, this fear causeth him to consider with himself into whose presence he is going, and who it is with whom he must have to do, and what a weighty business it is which he must discharge. Then, when a man is in, and now the action is begun, that fear which moved him to prepare, continueth still with him, and causeth him to do reverence before God; that is, to demean himself with a kind of diligent watchfulness over his own thoughts, that he may keep them together, and may prevent those roving and unfitting imaginations, which are wont to fall in most, when a man is best employed, and are like the fowls which fell on the sacrifices which Abraham offered to God, and were driven away by him, It is fit to this purpose that which we find (Malachi 3:16).

II. IT IS A GREAT MERCY OF GOD, WHEN THERE IS A GENERAL FREEDOM AND FORWARDNESS IN THE PEOPLE, IN RESPECT OF THE PUBLIC ACTS AND EXERCISES OF DEVOTION. We must thus, for the declaring of this doctrine, conceive of this place; that David reckoneth up here a twofold good, which shall follow that twofold blessing, for which he was a suitor in the former verse. If God should please to receive Zion into favour, and to forgive that sin by which the prosperity of the Church was now endangered, then it could not be, but the sacrifices which were offered by the children of Zion should find grace; and then, withal, if He should vouchsafe to continue and establish the peace of the state, then they, being encouraged by so many evidences of God's favour, and enjoying such sweet quiet, should be frequent in public duties, and keep the altar of the Lord in continual use by multitudes of sacrifices. This teacheth us, first at what a high rate we ought to value this freedom and liberty of serving God publicly in peace, which David here conceived as one of the blessings which would ensue his prayer, and therefore, no doubt, was a matter principally aimed at by him in his request. And in the second place let us learn, as of David, to be glad of his freedom, so of the people here touching whom he speaks, to make use of this freedom; while we have the light let us walk in the light; while the way lieth open to the Lord's altars, let us beat the path that leadeth to them. Remember ever the good use which the Churches of old made of their peace (Acts 9:31).

(S. Hieron.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Then you will delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, in burnt offerings and in whole burnt offerings. Then they will offer bulls on your altar. For the Chief Musician. A contemplation by David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, "David has come to Abimelech's house."

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