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To the chief Musician. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba,
HAVE mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 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.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 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.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within
14 Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15 O LORD, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with
fold and the forest, cannot be gratified with the effusion of goats' and bullocks' blood. "He that offereth praise glorifieth God;" and "to him that ordereth his conversation aright," that is, according to his word, "to him will be show his salvation." But to the wicked he speaks in thunder: "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes? or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?"
Some have applied this psalm to the
day of general judgment; and others, a Bishops Horne and Horsley, to the promul gation of the gospel in the end of the Jewis dispensation to this, indeed, the forme prelate has applied it with excellent effect but in our view, the simple topic is, th danger of hypocrisy.
"God is the judge of hearts: no fair disguises Can screen the guilty when his vengeance rises
PSALM LI. Title,- -When Nathan, &c. See 2 Sam. xii. 1, &c. But Bishop Horsley is confident this psalin was not written on that occasion, from ver. 4 and 18, on which see our Notes.
Ver. 1. Blot out, &c.-See Note on Num. v. 23. Ver. 4. Against thee.... only. -The prefix (lamed) sometimes means before, in the presence of, and is so rendered, Gen. xxiii. 11.—xlv, 1. See also Gesenius. This answers Bishop Horsley's first objection. David's adultery was a secret sin, before God only.That thou mightest-Rather, "Therefore thou wilt be justified when thou speakest, (i.e. to pronounce sentence) and clear when thou judgest." Bp. Horne.
Ver. 5. I was shapen.-The Hebrew word is of
extensive import, and means either to be formed the womb, as Deut. xxxii. 18. or otherwise, Ps. X -Conceive-Heb. "Warm. "" May not this r to bearing in the womb?
Ver. 7. Purge me with hyssop.-See Levit. xiv Ver. 10. A right spirit Marg. "A cons spirit; not fickle, but persevering
Ver. 12. With thy free spirit-With a spiri freedom; i. e. from the slavery of sin. Rom.
Ver. 14. From blood-guiltiness- Heb. “I bloods;" the plural being used for emphasis. Ver. 16. Else would I give it -Marg. should give it." See Ps. I. 8, &c.
[of Doeg, the Edomite.
2 Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. 3 Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.
4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.
5 God shall likewise destroy thee for ever: he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.
(F) A penitential Psalm of David, on occasion of his sin with Bathsheba.—So it has been universally considered, on authority of the title above prefixed, and upon internal evidence, which we think conclusive. As a penitential psalm, it has always been considered as the natural overflowing of a broken heart, deeply penetrated with a sense of extreme guilt "before God," on which account the writer compares himself to a polluted leper. This is evidently implied in calling for hyssop as a ceremonial purification, while, at the same time, he prays earnestly for pardon; and that he may experience the cleansing and re-creative power of God's Holy Spirit. It is observable also, that he rests not in the confession of actual transgression; but, as Bishop Horne observes, traces his sinful actions to their source in the pollution of his fallen nature : himself a sinner, the child of sinful parents, and they the posterity of the first human, guilty, pair. This, however, though a matter of humiliation, is never pleaded by him as an excuse.
But it is not adultery only that he laments: he complains of "blood-guiltiness," and no doubt his conscience was haunted by the image of his murdered friend Uriah. Sin seems but a little thing when committed, and wears a smiling form; but when it visits the conscience afterwards, it assumes a gigantic size, and (like the ghosts in Ossiau,) its head is shrouded with the storm. As we have in David a most aggravated instance of backsliding, so have we a most exemplary example of the contrition of a heart agitated alternately with grief and shame, and terrified with the judgments of the Almighty.
Bishop Horsley and others, object to the title, as not authentic, because the author prays, in the close of this psalm,
that God would build the walls of Jerusalem, which seems to imply that it was written during the captivity. To this, 1. Some have replied, that these two last verses, which seem to have no immediate connexion with the rest, might be added by some pious worshipper of that period. 2. It might be said, as some parts of Jerusalem (particularly the strong hold of Zion) had not now been more than about a dozen years in the possession of David, it is very possible that they might then have been much damaged, and not since repaired; and other parts, as Mount Moriah, where the temple was afterwards erected, not yet built on; and that his prayer might have particular reference to the erection of that Temple (already contemplated, 2 Sam. vii. 1, &c.) where sacrifices of unprecedented magnitude were to be offered. 3. Perhaps the expression should be taken rather figuratively than literally. Men build with brick or stone, but God with living stones; and for him to build up a house or a city, is to furnish it with inhabitants, and to crown it with his blessing. (See Psalm 1xix. 35; cii. 16; cxlvii. 2.) Lastly, it is probable, or rather more than probable, that this prayer had a particular reference to "the future age" of the Messiah, in whom the Lord has since declared himself, not only. pleased, but satisfied. (See Dan. ix. 25-275 Amos ix. 11; Matt. iii. 17.)
To return, however, to the psalm before us, the most profitable use that we, as sinners, can make of it, is to make it the model of our own petitions; and the sum of it is well compressed in the following emphatic lines:
PSALM LII. Ver.4. O thou deceitful tongue!Marg." And the deceitful tongue."
Mercy, good Lord! mercy I ask,
Ver. 5. Shall destroy thee-Heb. "Beat thee down."
6 The righteous also shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him:
7 Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness. 8 But I am like a green olive-tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
9 I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints. (G)
[The treachery of the Ziphims. that did seek God.
3 Every one of them is gone back they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no not one. 4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my peo ple as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.
5 There were they in great fear, where no fear was; for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them. that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
To the chief Musician on Neginoth. Maschil;
my prayer, O God; give ear to the words
(G) The wicked character and miserable fate of Doeg-The history of this wretch has already passed under our review transiently: (1 Sam. xxi. 7; xxii. 9, &c.) And from what occurs in this short psalm, we may farther remark, that his character was not only execrable to David, but detestable in the sight of God. Doeg appears to have been one of those sycophants, with whom tyrants are generally surrounded, and who are ready to engage in any dirty work which they think will recommend themselves to promotion or reward. His first wish was, no doubt, to betray David; but, being disappointed by David's prudence and activity, he wreaks his vengeance on God's high priest and his attendants. On
his unmanly cowardice, in falling upon the unarmed priests and their helpless fami lies, David seems here to taunt him"Oh, mighty man!" and "Oh, deceitfu tongue!"
It is probable that, by this time, th vengeance of God had overtaken him for (in ver. 7.) he points at him and says "Lo! this is the man that made not Go his strength, but trusted in his riches, &c. Now Doeg, as chief of Saul's herd men and master of his mules, might tal care to enrich himself; but he was stranger to God, and probably never w shipped in his house. On the contra David represents himself like a you olive fresh and green," planted, and fl rishing in the house of God.
Vet.7. In his wickedness Marg. "substance." As he was Saul's chief herdsman, it is probable his riches consisted chiefly in cattle.
PSALM LIII. Title, Mahalath is supposed to mean the same (or nearly so) with Nehiloth, title of Psalm v. which see. Maschil has occurred repeatedly.
We have omitted this psalm in family reading, being the same as Psalm xiv. except a few verbal differences, the principal of which here follows:
Ver. 5. Where no fear was. -See Deut. xxviii. 65. Instead of the words following in psalm xiv. viz, "God is in the congregation of the righteous," which gave their enemies sufficient ground to fear, the expression seems here applied to Israel: They feared where there was no ground to fear, considering God was on their side, as is since evident, by his scattering the bones of their besiegers; i. e, he hath
destroyed them utterly. We are inclined to cons the former psalm as the original, written by Da and this as altered by some later prophet, to a it to another occasion.
PSALM LIV. Title-The history referred 1 the title of this psalm, we have already rema upon in 1 Sam. xxiii. 19, &c.-xxvi. 1, &c. Ziphites, in order to obtain favour with Saul trayed David; and the troops of Saul had n surrounded him and his company, when they sent for away to repel an invasion of the Philist and thus David providentially escaped, and pe this short psalm in grateful acknowledgment o mercy. But we have omitted this psalm also in fi reading, because we consider it of a private na and find in it no devotional sentiment but wha curs, and is more fully expressed, in other ps It requires neither note nor explanation.
ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.
2 Attend unto me, and hear me: Í mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;
3 Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.
4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.
5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.
6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.
7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. 8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm und tempest.
9 Destroy, O LORD, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go about it, upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.
11 Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.
12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:
13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.
14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in
15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
16 As for me, I will call upon God, and the LORD shall save me.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him : he hath broken his covenant.
21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
PSALM LV. Ver.2, 1 mourn-Boothroyd, " Am distressed, confused, distracted."- And make a Take the waves of the sea." Bp. Horne. Ver. 4. My heart is sore pained. "Trembleth with pain." Ainsworth, Hammond, &c. Ver.9. Divide their congues-That is, their coun sels, which actually caine to pass. 2 Sam. xvii. 7. -Violence and Strife are here personified, as centinels, or patrol, who guard the city; Sorrow, Sakness, &c, as reigning in the midst.
Ver. 13. A man, mine equal-Heb." According to my own rank namely, Abithophel.
Ver. 14. We took sweet counsel - Heb. "Who sweetened counsel:" counsel is sweetened by friendship.
Ver. 15. Quick into hell-Or, álive into the grave," like Korah and his company. Num. xvi. 30-33.
Ver. 18. From the battle (or conflict) that was
22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD,
against me-Or, (as the LXX)" from them that draw near to (fight) me."- -For there were many with me-Or rather, "Many (to fight) with me." See Ainsworth.
Ver. 19. Even he that abideth of old-Ainsworth, "from antiquity;" Boothroyd," from eternity."Because they have no changes ("no reverses,") therefore, &c.-That is, they suppose they also shall live for ever; or, at least, that things will go on the same for ever. See 2 Peter iii. 4.
Ver. 20. He hath broken-Heb. "Profaned," or violated.
Ver. 21. His words were drawn swords-That is, weapons of destruction.
Ver. 22. Cast thy burden-Mar, "Gift," allotment. Ver. 23. Bloody and deceitful men-Heb. “Men of blood and deceit."Shall not live out half, &c. -i.e. they shall be cut off in the midst of their days. See Jer. xvii. 11
and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. 23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction : bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee. (H)
[Omit in Family Reading.]
To the chief Musician upon Jonath-elemrechokim, Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath.
BE merciful unto me, O God: for man
would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me. 2 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up; for they be many that fight against me, O thou Most High. 3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. 4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. 5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather themselves together, they
[of Saul and his party.
hide themselves, they mark my steps. when they wait for my soul. cast down the people, they escape by iniquity? in thine anger God. 8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? 9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for Goo is for me. 10 In God will I praise hi word: in the LORD will I praise his word 11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me 12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I wil render praises unto thee. 13 For tho hast delivered my soul from death; not thou deliver my feet from falling, tha I may walk before God in the light of the living?
(H) David's Prayer against his enemies. -There seems no doubt but this psalm was composed with reference to Absalom's rebellion, and the desertion of Ahithophel to his cause, as recorded 2 Sam. xv. 30-37. A period this of great alarm and singular distress, which led David not only to pray to God; but to wish for "the wings of a dove," that he might find refuge in the wilderness. The circumstance which seemed most to affect David was, that Ahithophel, who had been one of his confidential counsellors, should join in the conspiracy: a circumstance which has been compared with the conduct of Judas, who betrayed our Lord, though it does not appear that Judas was ever remarkable for his wisdom, or distinguished by his master above his other apostles, as was the case with Peter, James, and John; nor did our Lord follow his betrayer with execrations, as David did Ahithophel, and the other traitors, a
circumstance that marks conspicuousl the difference between the type and an titype, and between the Jewish and Chri tian dispensations.
Toward the close, however, of this psalm mingled with language which seems t result of aggravated and exasperated fee ings, we have some sentiments full piety and wisdom, from which we sh select the sixteenth verse. "Cast thy bu den (or allotment) upon the Lord," &c.;' which we may remark, that whatever lotment we receive from God, whether prosperity or adversity, it is our duty refer it back to him: "He that giveth the poor lendeth to the Lord," and he w repay him; or, if our lot be adverse, " will sustain" under every burden, a "never suffer the righteous to be move from his foundation.
PSALM LVI. Title Jonath-elem-rechokim. "The dumb dove in far (or distant) places." The late learned Editor of Calmet, from comparing this title with ver. 6. of the psalm preceding, had a suspicion that it is here misplaced, and belonged originally to that psalm.-Expos. Index, p. 138.
Ver. 2. Mine enemies-Heb. " observers;" spies. The same term is used in several other psalms.
Ver.8. Put thou my tears in thy bottle.-The Romans used to preserve some of their tears in a sort of urns, or vials, called ampull, and which they deposited in the sepulchres of their deceased friends;
"His arm will well sustain The children of his love; The ground on which their safety stands No earthly pow'r can move."-Watts.
and from this verse it should seem that the Heb had a similar custom.
Ver. 13. Thou hast delivered.-The event her ferred to, will be found 1 Sam. xxix. 3, &c. We this psalm for the same reason as we omitted 54th. The first verses will be found in the y following; the last, in psalm cxvi. 8.
PSALM LVII. Title-Al-taschith-Marg. stroy not; meaning, probably, that this v prayer to God, not to suffer him to be desti The two psalms following bear the same title.