For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity
Which to do is one of the promises and blessings of the covenant. The psalmist may have reference to his sin with Bathsheba, as Kimchi observes; since it was foretold to him, that, on account of that sin, evil should arise to him out of his own house, ( 2 Samuel 12:11 ) ; meaning that his son should rise up in rebellion against him; which was now the case, and which, no doubt, brought afresh this sin to his mind; and the guilt of it lay heavy upon his conscience; and therefore he prays for an application of pardoning grace and mercy; or he may have respect to original sin, the sin of his nature, which so easily beset him; the loathsome disease his loins were filled with; the law in his members warring against the law of his mind; and which a view of every actual sin led him to the consideration and acknowledgment of, as did that now mentioned, ( Psalms 51:4 Psalms 51:5 ) ; or, "iniquity" may be put for "iniquities", and the sense be, that he desired a manifestation of the pardon of all his sins; for when God forgives sin, he forgives all iniquities: and David here prays for pardon in a way of mercy, and upon the foot of satisfaction; for he prays that God would "mercifully pardon" F1, as the word signifies; or, according to his tender mercies, blot out his transgressions, and cleanse him from his sins; or that he would be "propitious" F2 to him; or forgive him in a propitiatory way, or through the propitiation of Christ, whom God had set forth in his purposes and promises to be the propitiation for the remission of sins; and therefore he entreats this favour "for [his] name's sake"; not for his own merits and good works, but for the Lord's sake, for his mercy's sake, or for his Son's sake; see ( Isaiah 43:25 ) ; compared with ( Ephesians 5:32 ) . The argument or reason he urges is,
for it [is] great;
being committed against the great God, against great light and knowledge, and attended with very aggravating circumstances; or "much" F3, he being guilty of many sins; his sins were great, both as to quality and quantity: this seems to be rather a reason against than a reason for the pardon of sin; it denotes the sense the psalmist had of his iniquity, and his importunity for the pardon of it; just as a person, sensible of the violence and malignity of his disease, entreats the physician with the greater eagerness and importunity to do his utmost for him; see ( Psalms 41:4 ) ; or the words may be rendered, "though it [is] great" F4; so Aben Ezra understands them;
``though it is so very heinous and provoking, yet since forgiveness is with thee, and thou hast promised it in covenant, and hast proclaimed thy name, a God gracious and merciful, pardon it;''unless the words are to be connected, as they are by some Jewish F5 interpreters, with the phrase "thy name's sake, for it [is] great"; that is, thy name is great, and that it may appear to be so, as it is proclaimed, forgive mine iniquity.
F1 (txlo) "mercifully pardon"; so Ainsworth.
F2 (ilash) Sept. "propitiaberis", V. L. "propitius esto", Musculus.
F3 (br) "multum", V. L. "multa", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version.
F4 (yk) "quamvis", Gejerus, Schmidt,
F5 Vide Abendanae Not. in Miclol Yophi in loc.