Psalm 51:8
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) The bones which thou hast broken . . .—Through his whole being the psalmist has felt the crushing weight of sin; to its very fibres, as we say, his frame has suffered.

Psalm 51:8. Make me to hear joy and gladness — Send me glad tidings of thy reconciliation to me; and by thy Spirit seal the pardon of my sins on my conscience, which will fill me with joy. That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice — That my heart, which hath been sorely wounded, and terrified by thy dreadful message sent by Nathan, and by the awful sentence of thy law, denounced against such sinners as I am, may be revived and comforted by the manifestation of thy favour to my soul. For he compares the pains and agonies of his mind, arising from the deep sense he had of the aggravated nature of his sins, and of the displeasure of God against him on account of them, to that exquisite torture he must have felt if all his bones had been crushed: “for the original word דכית, dicchita, signifies more than broken; namely, the being entirely mashed. And he compares the joy that God’s declaring himself fully reconciled to him would produce in his mind to that inconceivable pleasure which would have arisen from the instantaneous restoring and healing those bones, after they had been thus broken and crushed to pieces.”

51:7-15 Purge me with hyssop, with the blood of Christ applied to my soul by a lively faith, as the water of purification was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop. The blood of Christ is called the blood of sprinkling, Heb 12:24. If this blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, cleanse us from our sin, then we shall be clean indeed, Heb 10:2. He asks not to be comforted, till he is first cleansed; if sin, the bitter root of sorrow, be taken away, he can pray in faith, Let me have a well-grounded peace, of thy creating, so that the bones broken by convictions may rejoice, may be comforted. Hide thy face from my sins; blot out all mine iniquities out of thy book; blot them out, as a cloud is blotted out and dispelled by the beams of the sun. And the believer desires renewal to holiness as much as the joy of salvation. David now saw, more than ever, what an unclean heart he had, and sadly laments it; but he sees it is not in his own power to amend it, and therefore begs God would create in him a clean heart. When the sinner feels this change is necessary, and reads the promise of God to that purpose, he begins to ask it. He knew he had by his sin grieved the Holy Spirit, and provoked him to withdraw. This he dreads more than anything. He prays that Divine comforts may be restored to him. When we give ourselves cause to doubt our interest in salvation, how can we expect the joy of it? This had made him weak; he prays, I am ready to fall, either into sin or into despair, therefore uphold me with thy Spirit. Thy Spirit is a free Spirit, a free Agent himself, working freely. And the more cheerful we are in our duty, the more constant we shall be to it. What is this but the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free, which is contrasted with the yoke of bondage? Ga 5:1. It is the Spirit of adoption spoken to the heart. Those to whom God is the God of salvation, he will deliver from guilt; for the salvation he is the God of, is salvation from sin. We may therefore plead with him, Lord, thou art the God of my salvation, therefore deliver me from the dominion of sin. And when the lips are opened, what should they speak but the praises of God for his forgiving mercy?Make me to hear joy and gladness - That is, the voice of forgiveness, causing joy and rejoicing. What he wished to hear was the kind voice of God in pronouncing his pardon; not the voice of anger and condemnation. God now condemned him. The law condemned him. His own conscience condemned him. The result was anguish and sorrow. The burden was great and overpowering - such as to crush him; to break all his "bones." He longed to hear the sweet voice of forgiveness, by which he might have peace, and by which his soul might be made to rejoice. Compare the notes at Psalm 32:1-2.

That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice - That is, which have been crushed or broken by the weight of sin. Compare the notes at Psalm 32:3. See also Psalm 6:2; Psalm 22:14; Psalm 31:10; Psalm 38:3. The word "rejoice" means here, be free from suffering; the prayer is that the burden which had crushed him might be removed.

8. Make … joy—by forgiving me, which will change distress to joy. Send me glad tidings of thy reconciliation to me, and by thy Spirit seal the pardon of my sins to my conscience, which will fill me with joy, that mine heart, which hath been sorely wounded and terrified by thy dreadful message sent by Nathan, and by the dismal sentence of thy law denounced against such sinners as I am, now by this occasion brought home to my conscience, may be revived and comforted by the manifestation of thy favour to my soul.

Make me to hear joy and gladness,.... Which he had not heard for some time; sin had sadly broke in upon and interrupted his spiritual peace and joy; for though the love and favour of God cannot be lost, yet his sensible presence, which puts joy and gladness into the heart, may; and though an interest in Christ ever continues, and union to him is always the same; yet a view of interest in him, which fills with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and communion with him, may not be had for a time: and though justification by his righteousness, from whence flows much peace, is an invariable blessing; yet the comfortable perception of it may be taken away: and though salvation by Christ is a certain thing, yet the joy of it may be lost for a season; which was now the case of the psalmist: and when he desires that God would cause him to hear joy and gladness, his meaning is, that he might have that made known unto him; namely, the forgiveness of his sins, which would give him joy: not by an articulate voice from heaven, which he did not expect; nor by an angel from thence, which was not usual; but by the prophet, who as yet might not have declared to him that God had put away his sin; or, if he had, he might desire to have it repeated, for his fuller assurance, and greater joy; or by his Spirit, in an impulse on his mind, saying to him, thy sins are forgiven thee; which would give him great joy, fulness of it, even what is inconceivable and inexpressible, signified by these two words, "joy" and "gladness";

that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice: a backsliding believer is not only like a bone out of joint, Galatians 6:1; but his falls are sometimes both to the bruising of him, and to the breaking of his bones; of which when he is sensible, the quick sense of his sin is as the pain of a broken bone; see Psalm 38:3; and here the breaking of them is ascribed to God; not that he is the cause or occasion of falling into sin, which breaks the bones, James 1:13; but of afflictions, corrections, and chastisements for sin, which are sometimes expressed by this phrase, Isaiah 38:13; and which David was threatened with, and gave him great uneasiness; and of the menaces and threatenings of the law, which being let into his conscience, worked wrath and terror there; and also of that true contrition of heart, and brokenness of spirit, which the Lord produces, and can only cure, by the discoveries of pardoning grace; which affects the whole frame of nature, the report of which makes the bones fat, and all of them to say, who is a God like unto thee? Proverbs 15:30.

Make me to hear {g} joy and gladness; that the {h} bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

(g) He means God's comfortable mercies toward repentant sinners.

(h) By the bones he understands all strength of soul and body, which by cares and mourning are consumed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 8. - Make me to hear joy and gladness (comp. below, ver. 12). On forgiveness follows naturally the sense of it, and this sense is in itself a deep satisfaction. But the psalmist seems to ask for something more. He wants not mere negative peace and rest, but the active thrilling joy which those experience who feel themselves restored to God's favour, and bask in the light of his countenance. That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. That every ache and pain may cease, and be replaced by gladness and rejoicing. Psalm 51:8The possession of all possessions, however, most needed by him, the foundation of all other possessions, is the assurance of the forgiveness of his sins. The second futures in Psalm 51:9 are consequents of the first, which are used as optatives. Psalm 51:9 recalls to mind the sprinkling of the leper, and of one unclean by reason of his contact with a dead body, by means of the bunch of hyssop (Leviticus 14, Numbers 19), the βοτάνη καθαρτική (Bhr, Symbol. ii. 503); and Psalm 51:9 recalls the washings which, according to priestly directions, the unclean person in all cases of uncleanness had to undergo. Purification and washing which the Law enjoins, are regarded in connection with the idea implied in them, and with a setting aside of their symbolic and carnal outward side, inasmuch as the performance of both acts, which in other cases takes place through priestly mediation, is here supplicated directly from God Himself. Manifestly בּאזוב (not כבאזוב) is intended to be understood in a spiritual sense. It is a spiritual medium of purification without the medium itself being stated. The New Testament believer confesses, with Petrarch in the second of his seven penitential Psalms: omnes sordes meas una gutta, vel tenuis, sacri sanguinis absterget. But there is here no mention made of atonement by blood; for the antitype of the atoning blood was still hidden from David. The operation of justifying grace on a man stained by the blood-red guilt of sin could not, however, be more forcibly denoted than by the expression that it makes him whiter than snow (cf. the dependent passage Isaiah 1:18). And history scarcely records a grander instance of the change of blood-red sin into dazzling whiteness than this, that out of the subsequent marriage of David and Bathsheba sprang Solomon, the most richly blessed of all kings. At the present time David's very bones are still shaken, and as it were crushed, with the sense of sin. דּכּית is an attributive clause like יפעל in Psalm 7:16. Into what rejoicing will this smitten condition be changed, when he only realizes within his soul the comforting and joyous assuring utterance of the God who is once more gracious to him! For this he yearns, viz., that God would hide His face from the sin which He is now visiting upon him, so that it may as it were be no longer present to Him; that He would blot out all his iniquities, so that they may no longer testify against him. Here the first part of the Psalm closes; the close recurs to the language of the opening (Psalm 51:3).
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