Psalm 51:2
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
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(2) Wash me thoroughly.—Literally, Wash me much, whether we follow the Hebrew text or the Hebrew margin. The two clauses of the verse are not merely antithetic. The terms wash and cleanse seem to imply respectively the actual and the ceremonial purification, the former meaning literally to tread, describing the process of washing clothes (as blankets are washed to this day in Scotland) by trampling them with the feet, the latter used of the formal declaration of cleanliness by the priest in the case of leprosy (Leviticus 13:6-34). (For the iniquity and sin, see Psalm 32:1.)

Psalm 51:2. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, &c. — “I have made myself exceeding loathsome by my repeated and heinous acts of wickedness, which, like a stain that hath long stuck to a garment, is not easily purged away; but do not, therefore, I beseech thee, abhor me, but rather magnify thy mercy in purifying me perfectly, and cleansing me so thoroughly, that there may be no spot remaining in me.” — Bishop Patrick. Hebrew, הרבה כבסני, harbeh chabbeseeni, is literally, multiplica, lava me, multiply, wash me: that is, Wash me very much. By which phrase he implies the greatness of his guilt, the insufficiency of all legal washing, and the absolute necessity of some other and better means of cleansing him from it, even God’s grace and the atoning blood of Christ; which as Abraham saw by faith, John 8:56, so did David, as is sufficiently evident (allowance being made for the darkness of the Old Testament dispensation) from divers passages of his Psalms. Observe, reader, sin defiles us, renders us odious in the sight of the holy God, and uneasy to ourselves; it unfits us for communion with God, in grace or glory. But when God pardons sin, he cleanses us from it, so that we become acceptable to him, easy to ourselves, and have liberty of access to him. Nathan had assured David, upon his first profession of repentance, that his sin was pardoned. The Lord has taken away thy sin, thou shalt not die, 2 Samuel 12:13 : yet he prays, Wash me, cleanse me, blot out my transgressions; for God will be sought unto, even for that which he has promised; and those whose sins are pardoned, must pray that the pardon may be more and more evidenced to them. God had forgiven him, but he could not forgive himself, and therefore he is thus importunate for pardon as one that thought himself unworthy of it.

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.Wash me throughly from mine iniquity - literally, "Multiply to wash me." The word rendered "throughly" is a verb, either in the infinitive or imperative mood, and suggests the idea of "multiplying" or "increasing." The reference is to that which might need constant or repeated washings in order to remove a stain adverbially to denote intensity, or thoroughness. On the word wash as applicable to sin, see the notes at Isaiah 1:16.

And cleanse me from my sin - Remove it entirely. Make me wholly pure. See the notes at Isaiah 1:16. In what manner he hoped that this would be done is shown in the following portions of the psalm. It was -

(a) by forgiveness of the past, Psalm 51:9; and

(b) by making the heart pure and holy through the renewing and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, Psalm 51:10-11.

2. Wash me—Purity as well as pardon is desired by true penitents. Wash me throughly, Heb. multiply to wash me; by which phrase he implies the greatness of his guilt, and the insufficiency of all legal washings, and the absolute necessity of some other and better thing to wash him, even of God’s grace, and the blood of Christ; which as Abraham saw by faith, John 8:56, so did David, as is sufficiently evident (allowing for the darkness of the dispensation and expressions of the Old Testament) from divers passages of the Psalms, of which I have spoken in their proper places; and his earnest and passionate desire of pardon, which he desires above all other things; wherein he showeth himself to be a true penitent, because his chief care and desire was to obtain God’s favour, and the forgiveness of his sins, and not the prevention of those external sore judgments which God by Nathan threatened to bring upon him and his house, 2 Samuel 12:10,11, about which here is not one word in this Psalm; whereas the cares and desires of hypocrites chiefly are bent towards worldly things, as we see in Cain, Genesis 4:13,16,17, and Saul, 1 Samuel 15:30, and others, Hosea 7:14.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity,.... Which supposes defilement by sin, and that very great, and such as none can remove but the Lord himself; who, when he takes it in hand, does it effectually and thoroughly; see Ezekiel 36:25. David's sin had long lain upon him, the faith of it had as it were eaten into him, and spread itself over him, and therefore he needed much washing: "wash me much", all over, and thoroughly:

and cleanse me from my sin: which only the blood of Christ can do, 1 John 1:7. The psalmist makes use of three words to express his sin by, in this verse Psalm 51:1; which signifies "rebellion", as all sin has in it rebellion against God the lawgiver, and a contempt of his commandments; "perverseness", "crookedness", sin being a going out of the plain way of God's righteous law; and "a missing the mark"; going besides it or not coming up to it: and these he makes rise of to set forth the malignity of sin, and the deep sense he had of the exceeding sinfulness of it; and these are the three words used by the Lord in Exodus 34:7; when he declares himself to be a sin forgiving God; so that David's sin came within the reach of pardoning mercy.

Wash me {c} throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

(c) My sins strike so fast in me, that I have need of some singular kind of washing.

Verse 2. - Wash me throughly from mine iniquity. Wash me, as a fuller washes a fouled garment (πλῦνον, LXX., not υίψον), not as a man washes his skin. And cleanse me from my sin. "Transgressions," "iniquity," "sin," cover every form of moral evil, and, united together, imply the deepest guilt (comp. vers. 3, 5, 9, 14). Psalm 51:2Prayer for the remission of sin. Concerning the interchangeable names for sin, vid., on Psalm 32:1. Although the primary occasion of the Psalm is the sin of adultery, still David says פּשׁעי, not merely because many other sins were developed out of it, as his guilt of blood in the case of Uriah, the scandal put into the mouths of the enemies of Jahve, and his self-delusion, which lasted almost a whole year; but also because each solitary sin, the more it is perceived in its fundamental character and, as it were, microscopically discerned, all the more does it appear as a manifold and entangled skein of sins, and stands forth in a still more intimate and terrible relation, as of cause and effect, to the whole corrupt and degenerated condition in which the sinner finds himself. In מחה sins are conceived of as a cumulative debt (according to Isaiah 44:22, cf. Isaiah 43:25, like a thick, dark cloud) written down (Jeremiah 17:1) against the time of the payment by punishment. In כּבּסני (from כּבּס, πλύνειν, to wash by rubbing and kneading up, distinguished from רחץ, λούειν, to wash by rinsing) iniquity is conceived of as deeply ingrained dirt. In טהרני, the usual word for a declarative and de facto making clean, sin is conceived of as a leprosy, Leviticus 13:6, Leviticus 13:34. the Kerמ runs הרב כּבּסני (imperat. Hiph., like הרף, Psalm 37:8), "make great or much, wash me," i.e., (according to Ges. ֗142, 3, b) wash me altogether, penitus et totum, which is the same as is expressed by the Chethמb הרבּה (prop. multum faciendo equals multum, prorsus, Ges. ֗131, 2). In כּרב (Isaiah 63:7) and הרב is expressed the depth of the consciousness of sin; profunda enim malitia, as Martin Geier observes, insolitam raramque gratiam postulat.
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