Psalm 51 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Psalm 51)

Verse 4

[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.

Thee only — Which is not to be, understood absolutely, because he had sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, and many others; but comparatively. So the sense is, though I have sinned against my own conscience, and against others; yet nothing is more grievous to me, than that I have sinned against thee.

Thy sight — With gross contempt of thee, whom I knew to be a spectator of my most secret actions.

Justified — This will be the fruit of my sin, that whatsoever severities thou shalt use towards me, it will be no blemish to thy righteousness, but thy justice will be glorified by all men.

Speakest — Heb. in thy words, in all thy threatenings denounced against me.

Judgest — When thou dost execute thy sentence upon me.

Verse 5

[5] Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold — Nor is this the only sin which I have reason to bewail before thee; for this filthy stream leads me to a corrupt fountain: and upon a review of my heart, I find, that this heinous crime, was the proper fruit of my vile nature, which, ever was, and still is ready to commit ten thousand sins, as occasion offers.

Verse 6

[6] Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Truth — Uprightness of heart; and this may be added; as an aggravation of the sinfulness of original corruption, because it is contrary to the holy nature and will of God, which requires rectitude of heart: and, as an aggravation of his actual sin, that it was committed against that knowledge, which God had wrote in his heart.

Verse 7

[7] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Hyssop — As lepers, are by thy appointment purified by the use of hyssop and other things, so do thou cleanse me a leprous and polluted creature, by thy grace, and by that blood of Christ, which is signified by those ceremonial usages.

Verse 8

[8] Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Joy — By thy spirit, seal the pardon of my sins on my conscience, which will fill me with joy.

Rejoice — That my heart which hath been sorely wounded may be comforted.

Verse 10

[10] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Create — Work in me an holy frame of heart, whereby my inward filth may be purged away.

Right — Heb. firm or constant, that my resolution may be fixed and unmoveable.

Spirit — Temper or disposition of soul.

Verse 12

[12] Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

The joy — The comfortable sense of thy saving grace, promised and vouchsafed to me, both for my present and everlasting salvation.

Free — Or, ingenuous, or liberal, or princely. Which he seems to oppose to his own base and illiberal and disingenuous and servile spirit, which he had discovered in his wicked practices: a spirit, which may free me from the bondage of sin, and enable me chearfully to run the way of God's precepts.

Verse 14

[14] Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

Thy righteousness — Thy clemency and goodness.

Verse 15

[15] O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

My lips — Which are shut with shame and grief.

Verse 16

[16] For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

Not sacrifice — This is not to be understood absolutely, with respect to David's crimes, which were not to be expiated by any sacrifice.

Verse 17

[17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

A broken spirit — This is of more value than many sacrifices.

Verse 18

[18] Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

Good pleasure — Thy free and rich mercy.

Build — Perfect the walls and buildings of that city, and especially let the temple be built, notwithstanding my sins.