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Bible Commentaries

Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible

Psalms 51

Verse 1

Ps 51:1

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my transgressions." Ps 51:1

This psalm is very suitable to the needs and feelings of every sensible sinner, for it is not necessary to have committed David’s sin to have a measure of David’s repentance and confessions, and of David’s desires, breathings, and supplications. "Have mercy upon me, O God," he says, "according to your loving-kindness." To ask God to have mercy upon us is one of the first cries that a convinced sinner puts up to God. It was so with the tax-collector in the temple; and where it is sincere, God will certainly hear it "according to his loving-kindness," for he is full of love and kindness to poor, mourning sinners.

How the psalmist also begs of the Lord to "blot out his transgressions according unto the multitude of his tender mercies." As our sins in thought, word, and deed are a countless multitude, of which every one deserves hell, we need "the multitude of his most tender mercies" to blot them out. We may see the stars in the sky, the sands on the sea-shore, the drops of dew on the grass, the waves rolling in upon the beach; but both our sins and God’s tender mercies exceed them all. How he showed these tender mercies in giving his dear Son to suffer, bleed, and die for miserable sinners; and how we need all these tender mercies to pity and pardon us and our transgressions.

And how earnestly David begged, "Wash me throughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin." It is only the washing of God himself that can wash us throughly. If we could shed an ocean of tears it would not wash away one sin; but the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. In order to make us know this, the Lord shows us and makes us feel the guilt and burden of sin, and that we can do nothing to put it away. Pardon must be his own free gift, and that every sensible sinner is made to feel.

Verse 17

Ps 51:17

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit—a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Ps 51:17

The heart that feels the burden of, sin, that suffers under temptation, that groans beneath Satan’s fiery assaults, that bleeds under the wounds inflicted by committed evil, is broken and contrite. This brokenness of heart and contrition of spirit is a thing which a child of God alone can feel. However hard his heart at times may seem to be, there will be seasons of spiritual reviving; however he may seem steeled against any sense of love and mercy, or even of misery and guilt, from time to time when he is least expecting and looking for it, there will be a breaking down of his soul before the Lord; there will be a bewailing of himself, a turning from the world to seek the Lord’s favor, and a casting himself as a sinner once more on undeserved mercy, tears will flow down his cheeks, sighs burst from his bosom, and he will lie humble at the Savior’s feet. If your soul has ever felt this, you have a better thing than any gift; for this brokenness of spirit is a thing that accompanies salvation, and is a sacrifice that God will not despise.

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Bibliographical Information
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 51". Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jcp/psalms-51.html.