O remember not against us former iniquities
Or, "our ancient iniquities", as the Septuagint; the most ancient sin of all is that of our first parents, in which we are involved, and by which we are made sinners; and for which judgment comes upon all men; and from thence flows the corruption of nature, or that original sin of our nature in which we are all conceived and born, and so are transgressors from the womb; or iniquities of former times, of our youth, as Kimchi, sins done of old, committed long ago, in the youthful age, see ( Psalms 25:7 ) , or the sins of former persons, of our fathers, as Aben Ezra, which the Lord visits sometimes upon the children: some think reference is had to the sin of their forefathers in making and worshipping the golden calf; the Jews F5 have a saying, that there is no punishment happens to Israel, but there is an ounce in it for the sin of the calf; their meaning is, that this is always remembered and visited, according to ( Exodus 32:34 ) , the phrase may take in all the sins of former persons, their ancestors, and of former times, from age to age, they had continued in, which had brought ruin upon them; and all their own sins, of nature and of youth, all past ones, to the present time: and it is desired that God would not "remember these against them"; that is, that he would not chastise or punish them for them, but that he would pardon them; for forgiveness of sin is sometimes expressed by a non-remembrance of it, ( Isaiah 43:25 ) ( Jeremiah 31:34 ) , or that he would not "remember unto" F6 them; that is, put them in mind of them, lay them home and heavy upon their consciences, charge them with the guilt of them, and demand satisfaction for them; which is causing them to possess the sins of their youth, or former ones, ( Job 13:26 ) ,
let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us;
the mercy of God is rich, plenteous, and abundant; many are the acts, and manifold the instances of it; and there is a heart of compassion, and a tenderness expressed in it; and which is free, and comes before the merits of men, goes before them, and is not caused by them; and the phrase denotes the early and timely application of it, the case being desperate, and requiring haste, and the danger such that nothing but mercy could prevent; and indeed it is mercy that prevents both our temporal and eternal ruin. The reason given for this request is,
for we are brought very low;
sin brings men into a low estate, and only the grace and mercy of God can raise them up, and that exalts to an high estate; or are become very "weak" F7 and helpless; sin strips men of their strength, leaves them without any, and incapable of helping themselves out of that estate into which it has brought them: or are quite "exhausted" F8 and dried up, no good thing in them, no comfort left them; but are poor, and wretched, and miserable.
F5 T Hieros. Taanioth, fol. 68. 3.
F6 (wnl rkzt la) "ne memineris nobis", Montanus, Michaelis; so Cocceius.
F7 (wnwld) "attenuati", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Vatablus, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
F8 "Exhausti", Gejerus, Michaelis.