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PS ALM LI.
THE CONFESSION OF DAVID AFTER NATHAN HAD REPROVED HIM. David prayeth for remission of sins, whereof he maketh a deep confession, 1–5; he
prayeth for sanctification of heart, 6–15; God requireth not sacrifice, but sincere repentance, 16, 17; he prayeth for Zion, 18, 19.
T To the chief Musician. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to thy loving-kindness: According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies Blot "out my transgressions. * Wash * me throughly from mine iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For “I acknowledge my transgressions; And my sin is ever before me. * Against "Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, And done this evil “in thy sight; That ‘ thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, And be clear when thou judgest. * Behold, & I was shapen in iniquity; And "in sin did my mother 'conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; And in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge “me with hyssop—and I shall be clean: Wash me—and I shall be 'whiter than snow. * Make me to hear joy and gladness; That the bones which thou hast broken "may rejoice.
a Isa. 43.25. Col. 2. 14. e Luke 15, 21. 1 Job 38. 36. b Heb. 9. 14. 1 John 1.7,9. f Rom. 8.4. k Lev. 14. 4, 6, 49. Numb.
Rev. 1. 5. g Sec Gen. 8. 21. 19. 18. Heb. 9. 19. c Psa. 82. 5. h Job 14. 4. 1 Isa. 1. 18.
d Gen. 20. 6. Lev. 5, 19. 1 Heb. warm me. m Mat. 5. 4.
* Hide "thy face from my sins,
n Jer. 16. 17. r 2 Cor. 8, 17. * Or, that I should gire it. • Acts 15.9. Eph. 2. 10. * Heb. bloods. u Psa. 84. 18. Isa. 57. 15. 2 Or, a constant spirit. * Psa. 85. 28. and 66. 2. p Gen. 4, 14. 2 Kings 18.23. t Numb. 15. 27, 30. Psa. 40. 6. v Psa. 4.5. Mal. 8, 8. q Itom. 8.9. Eph. 4. 80. Isa. 1.11. Jer. 7. 22. Hos. 6. 6.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALMS XXXVIII, XXXIX, WI, AND XLI.
PSALMS OF DAVID.
Although the sin of David might be pardoned, and himself restored to favour, yet it was not consistent with the Divine wisdom and holiness that the bitterness of protracted repentance should be spared him, or that all penal judgments should be averted. Besides the inward anguish of remorse and penitence, and the natural working of guilt upon the mind and conscience of the offender, some public notice must be taken of the offence, whereby both the king and the nation might be more solemnly impressed with the evil of transgression, and be led to view it with a just abhorrence. David had sinned, not merely as a private individual, but as a king whom God had appointed as his own viceroy, to execute judgment in his name. God was the true sovereign, from whom the Hebrew monarch held all his authority only as a delegated trust. He was placed over the people to enforce righteous and holy laws, under Jehovah's sanction. But David had herein given the highest example of insubordination, and as he was known to have stood high in the favour of God, so this transgression had “given great occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme.” He might, indeed, be forgiven, but some process of discipline must be instituted, some manifestation of the Divine displeasure made, for the future admonition of the king and his successors, and also to check the downward pressure of his example upon the morals of the nation. These fearful visitations were not long delayed, nor were their dire effects ever fully survived. “The remainder of David's life,” says Dr. Hale, “was as disastrous as the beginning had been prosperous.”
The scene of calamities now opens. The first in the series of temporal judgments, was the death of the child of Bathsheba. The second was a sickness, painful, protracted, loathsome, that fell upon the king himself, and for a long time held his life in doubtful suspense. After this, came family disgrace and trouble in the affair of the incest of Amnon, and the intrigues of Absalom; ending in two successive insurrections, that of Absalom, and that of Sheba; and these again followed by foreign war. At present, we turn back and consider the sickness which fell upon the king. That David was thus afflicted some time during his life, and that he wrote several Psalms on the occasion, is generally admitted. The evidence of this is afforded by the Psalms themselves, which speak of the sickness and its accompanying circumstances, in language too plain to be misapplied. But of the time, or even the fact, of this sickness the sacred history elsewhere gives no account. We are left, therefore, to infer the fact, and to judge of the time and circumstances of the sickness, wholly from the intimations afforded in these Psalms. Their language clearly intimates that the sickness was loathsome, perilous, and protracted, and that David received it as a just judgment of God, on account of his great and aggravated sin. It was not the general fact that he was a sinful creature, in common with all other men, that drew forth the deep penitential confessions of the Psalmist; but that he had sinned in some particular matter, at some particular time, with aggravating circumstances of guilt. On this account, also, he keenly feels, and solemnly deprecates his affliction; for being regarded by others, as well as by himself, in the light of a punishment, it becomes a public reproach. Hence, his enemies take occasion to speak against him, and to conspire to injure him, as if God had forsaken him. Hence, also, his earnest solicitude that God would interpose in his behalf, and manifest some token of his favour, wherewith he might answer those that reproached him.
“Show me a token for good;
The following facts, then, seem fully established from the class of Psalms in question:
1. David was sorely afflicted with a disease which threatened to terminate his life. Psalm xxxix, 5–10, 13, and vi, 5.
2. That this disease was loathsome and offensive. Psalm xxxviii, 5, 7.
3. That this affliction was regarded as a punishment, both by himself and others, which gave his enemies great advantage. Psalm xxxviii, 1, 2, 12–16, and lxxxvi, 14–17, and xli, 7, 8.
4. The fact that the affliction was an appointed judgement of God, caused him to bear both it and the reproaches of his enemies with silent meekness. Psalm xxxviii, 13, 14, and xxxix, 9.
5. In all his prayers and confessions he admits his sin to be the special cause of his sufferings. Psalm xxxviii, 3, 4, 5, 18, and xxxix, 8.
6. The general spirit and strain of these Psalms are penitential. The depths of penitential sorrow in his soul were broken up, and the spirit within him was poured forth in the most unrestrained expressions of humility, prayer, and confession. None of the Psalms are more deep, heart-searching, and profitable, to the soul of the pious reader, than these. They contain views of depravity, guilt, unworthiness, repentance, and hope in the Divine mercy, which no human composition has ever excelled.
PS AL M XXXVIII.
ON occASION OF DAVID's sickNESS AFTER HIS SIN.
" A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.
! O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath; Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. * For "thine arrows stick fast in me, And othy hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; Neither is there any 'rest in my bones because of my sin. * For “mine iniquities are gone over my head: As a heavy burden they are too "heavy for me.
a Job 6, 4. 1 Heb. peace, or c Ezra 9. 6. b Job 19, 21. Psa. 82, 4. health. d Mat. 11, 28.