Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 19

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verses 1-14

Psalms 19

Proper Psalm for Christmas Day ( Morning).

Psalms 19-21 = Day 4 ( Morning).

Verse 12


‘Cleanse Thou me from secret faults.’

Psalms 19:12

David does not merely mean what are hidden from other people, secret from the eye of the world. He means those which he himself is ignorant of. This is the gist of the prayer. It is like the petition in our Litany when we call upon God to forgive us our sins, negligences, and ignorances. But how is it possible that when a man does wrong without knowing that it is wrong, God can be so very angry? Does not the very fact that he is ignorant take away the guilt? One often hears people speak so. Yet, surely it must be from want of thought. If we do a wrong act, the act is wrong all the same whether we know it or not. It is a different kind of sin from what it would have been if we had done it presumptuously and of full choice—but it is wrong all the same. Do not such things as these want forgiving? Is there no guilt here?

There is yet another consideration which comes in upon this subject: namely, that we might know better; the very ignorance which some people fancy excuses their doing wrong is itself a sin. Nobody need be ignorant. Many of those who profess and call themselves Christians seem to forget this. David knew it. This psalm shows that he knew it. What is God’s Word given us for but for this very purpose, that we should not be ignorant? Ignorance means neglect of God’s Holy Spirit; and neglect of the Spirit is a sin. The sins which we do without knowing them not only show what we are, they also show that we have refused God’s help to make us better. It was a sin of ignorance that crucified the Lord of Glory. That shows what sins of ignorance may come to. After that let no one say there can be no harm in what we do wrong if only we did not know it.

Are there no Christians now that need this prayer? Brethren, do not we need it? The Jews of old had their Sin-offering to bring it home to them day by day that sins of ignorance were of all others the sins which most showed how much they needed repentance and forgiveness. Christ, our Sin-offering, brought to His Cross by the most stupendous sin of ignorance the world has seen, sets before us the awful deadly nature of sins of ignorance. There upon that Cross we see the height which our sins of ignorance may reach to—secret sins—sins we do not even know are sins at all. David had learned the lesson, when he prayed ‘Cleanse Thou me from my secret faults.’ God grant that we may learn it, and daily say that prayer in our Litany with deeper earnestness—‘Forgive us our ignorances.’—Amen.

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Psalms 19". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/psalms-19.html. 1876.
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