Psalm 51:3
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) For I.—There is an emphatic pronoun in the first clause which we may preserve, at the same time noticing the difference between the violation of the covenant generally in the term transgressions in the first clause, and the offence which made the breach in the second. (See Note Psalm 51:1.) Because I am one who is conscious of my transgressions, and (or, possibly, even) my offence is ever before me.

The thought that he had been unfaithful to the covenant was an accusing conscience to him, keeping his sin always before his eyes, and until, according to his prayer in Psalm 51:1-2, he was received back into conscious relationship again, his offence must weigh upon his mind. This explanation holds, whether an individual or the community speaks.

Psalm 51:3. For I acknowledge my transgressions — With grief, and shame, and abhorrence of myself and of my sins, which hitherto I have dissembled and covered. And, being thus truly penitent, I hope and beg that I may find mercy with thee. This David had formerly found to be the only way of obtaining forgiveness and peace of conscience, Psalm 32:4-5, and he now hoped to find the same blessings in the same way. And my sin is ever before me — That sin, which I had cast behind my back, is now constantly in my view, to humble and mortify, and make me continually to blush and tremble. We see here David’s contrition for his sin was not a slight, sudden passion, but all abiding grief. He was put in mind of his crimes on all occasions; they were continually in his thoughts: and he was willing they should be so for his further abasement. Let us learn from hence, that our acts of repentance, for the same sin, ought to be often repeated, and that it is very expedient, and will be of great use for us, to have our sins ever before us, that by the remembrance of those that are past, we may be armed against temptations for the future, and may be kept humble, quickened to duty, and made patient under the cross.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.For I acknowledge my transgressions - literally, I know, or make known. That is, he knew that he was a sinner, and he did not seek to cloak or conceal that fact. He came with the knowledge of it himself; he was willing to make acknowledgment of it before God. There was no attempt to conceal it; to excuse it. Compare the notes at Psalm 32:5. The word ""for"" does not imply that he referred to his willingness to confess his sins as an act of merit, but it indicates a state of mind which was necessary to forgiveness, and without which he could not hope for pardon.

And my sin is ever before me - That is, It is now constantly before my mind. It had not been so until Nathan brought it vividly to his recollection (2 Samuel 12:1 ff); but after that it was continually in his view. He could not turn his mind from it. The memory of his guilt followed him; it pressed upon him; it haunted him. It was no wonder that this was so. The only ground of wonder in the case is that it did not occur "before" Nathan made that solemn appeal to him, or that he could have been for a moment insensible to the greatness of his crime. The whole transaction, however, shows that people "may" be guilty of enormous sins, and have for a long time no sense of their criminality; but that "when" the consciousness of guilt is made to come home to the soul, nothing will calm it down. Everything reminds the soul of it; and nothing will drive away its recollection. In such a state the sinner has no refuge - no hope of permanent peace - but in the mercy of God.

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). I acknowledge, with grief and shame, and abhorrency of myself and of my sins; which hitherto I have dissembled and covered. And being thus truly penitent, I hope and beg that I may find mercy with thee.

My transgressions; for it was not a single, but a complicated wickedness, adultery, murder, injustice, perfidiousness; and frequent repetition of and long and stupid continuance in abominable filthiness, and that with public scandal.

My sin is ever before me; that which I had cast behind my back is now constantly in my view, and fixed in my thoughts and memory. 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.

For I {d} acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

(d) My conscience accuses me so, that I can have no rest till I am reconciled.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. For I acknowledge] Lit., I know. The pronoun is emphatic. His sins have all along been known to God. They are before His eyes (Psalm 90:8). But now he has come to know them himself; they are unceasingly present to his conscience. Such consciousness of sin is the first step towards the repentance and confession which are the indispensable conditions of forgiveness. David refused to acknowledge his sin to himself and to God—yet not, apparently, without sharp pangs of remorse, see Psalm 32:3-4—until Nathan’s message awoke his conscience. Cp. the confession of the nation in Isaiah 59:12.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. The accusation of the manifest sinners. It is not those who are addressed in Psalm 50:7, as Hengstenberg thinks, who are here addressed. Even the position of the words ולרשׁע אמר clearly shows that the divine discourse is now turned to another class, viz., to the evil-doers, who, in connection with open and manifest sins and vices, take the word of God upon their lips, a distinct class from those who base their sanctity upon outward works of piety, who outwardly fulfil the commands of God, but satisfy and deceive themselves with this outward observance. מה־לּך ל, what hast thou, that thou equals it belongs not to thee, it does not behove thee. With ועתּה, in Psalm 50:17, an adversative subordinate clause beings: since thou dost not care to know anything of the moral ennobling which it is the design of the Law to give, and my words, instead of having them as a constant test-line before thine eyes, thou castest behind thee and so turnest thy back upon them (cf. Isaiah 38:17). ותּרץ is not from רוּץ (lxx, Targum, and Saadia), in which case it would have to be pointed ותּרץ, but from רצה, and is construed here, as in Job 34:9, with עם: to have pleasure in intercourse with any one. In Psalm 50:18 the transgression of the eighth commandment is condemned, in Psalm 50:18 that of the seventh, in Psalm 50:19. that of the ninth (concerning the truthfulness of testimony). שׁלח פּה ברעה, to give up one's mouth unrestrainedly to evil, i.e., so that evil issues from it. תּשׁב, Psalm 50:20, has reference to gossiping company (cf. Psalm 1:1). דּפי signifies a thrust, a push (cf. הדף), after which the lxx renders it ἐτίθεις σκάνδαλον (cf. Leviticus 19:14), but it also signifies vexation and mockery (cf. גּדף); it is therefore to be rendered: to bring reproach (Jerome, opprobrium) upon any one, to cover him with dishonour. The preposition בּ with דּבּר has, just as in Numbers 12:1, and frequently, a hostile signification. "Thy mother's son" is he who is born of the same mother with thyself, and not merely of the same father, consequently thy brother after the flesh in the fullest sense. What Jahve says in this passage is exactly the same as that which the apostle of Jesus Christ says in Romans 2:17-24. This contradiction between the knowledge and the life of men God must, for His holiness' sake, unmask and punish, Psalm 50:20. The sinner thinks otherwise: God is like himself, i.e., that is also not accounted by God as sin, which he allows himself to do under the cloak of his dead knowledge. For just as a man is in himself, such is his conception also of his God (vid., Psalm 18:26.). But God will not encourage this foolish idea: "I will therefore reprove thee and set (it) in order before thine eyes" (ואערכה, not ואערכה, in order to give expression, the second time at least, to the mood, the form of which has been obliterated by the suffix); He will set before the eyes of the sinner, who practically and also in theory denies the divine holiness, the real state of his heart and life, so that he shall be terrified at it. Instead of היה, the infin. intensit. here, under the influence of the close connection of the clauses (Ew. 240, c), is היות; the oratio obliqua begins with it, without כּי (quod). כמוך exactly corresponds to the German deines Gleichen, thine equal.
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