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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 51

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-19

Psalms 51:0

The Confession

1. Conviction and prayer for forgiveness (Psalms 51:1-8 )

2. Prayer for cleansing and restoration (Psalms 51:9-13 )

3. Blood guiltiness acknowledged (Psalms 51:14-17 )

4. Prayer for Zion (Psalms 51:18-19 )

This great penitential Psalm, according to the inscription, was the outburst of confession and repentance of David when Nathan had uncovered his sin. Well has it been said, “So profound a conviction of sin, so deep and unfeigned a penitence, so true a confession, a heart so tender, so contrite, a desire so fervent for renewal, a trust so humble, so filial in the forgiving love of God, are such as we might surely expect from ‘the man after God’s own heart.’“ We cannot enter into all the petitions and expressions of sorrow over sin which are found in this remarkable Psalm. It goes deep in confession and brokenness of spirit. All the saints of God know something of such deep soul exercises on account of sin.

We point out the prophetic meaning of the Psalm. It is the future confession of Israel of their sin and especially their blood guiltiness which is upon that nation. It is therefore the answer of penitent Israel to the words of the righteous judge in the preceding Psalm. David had blood guiltiness upon him. And when the Jews delivered the Holy One into the hands of the Gentiles they cried, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” This blood guiltiness will then be confessed when the Lord comes, when they look upon Him whom they pierced and shall mourn for Him (Zechariah 12:10 ). Isaiah 53:1-12 is a similar confession which Israel will yet make. It will be the time of their deep contrition, national repentance and weeping. Then they will become the teachers of the Gentiles, to teach transgressors His ways, that sinners be converted unto Him. They will sing aloud of His righteousness, when the Lord has taken away their sins. Then they will bring sacrifices of righteousness and the Lord will do good to Zion and build Jerusalem.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Psalms 51". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/psalms-51.html. 1913-1922.
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