Verse 6. We have sinned with our fathers. Here begins a long and particular confession. Confession of sin is the readiest way to secure an answer to the prayer of verse 4; God visits with his salvation the soul which acknowledges its need of a Saviour. Men may be said to have sinned with their fathers when they imitate them, when they follow the same objects, and make their own lives to be mere continuations of the follies of their sires. Moreover, Israel was but one nation in all time, and the confession which follows sets forth the national rather than the personal sin of the Lord's people. They enjoyed national privileges, and therefore they shared in national guilt.
We have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. Thus is the confession repeated three times, in token of the sincerity and heartiness of it. Sins of omission, commission, and rebellion we ought to acknowledge under distinct heads, that we may show a due sense of the number and heinousness of our offences.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 6. -- We have sinned with our fathers. Let us look a little further back, to find the age of sin; even as far as the original, from whence comes all the copy of imitation. Be they never so new in act, they are old in example: "We have sinned with our fathers." God tells them they had rebelled of old; "As your fathers did, so do ye" ( Acts 8:51 ). Antiquity is no infallible argument of goodness: though Tertullian says the first things were the best things; and the less they distanced from the beginning, the poorer they were; but he must be understood only of holy customs. For iniquity can plead antiquity: he that commits a new act of murder finds it old in the example of Cain; drunkenness may be fetched from Noah; contempt of parents from Ham; women's lightness from the daughters of Lot. There is no sin but hath white hairs upon it, and is exceeding old. But let us look further back yet, even to Adam; there is the age of sin. This is that St. Paul calls the old man; it is almost as old as the root, but older than all the branches. Therefore our restitution by Christ to grace is called the new man. --Thomas Adams.
Verse 6. -- We have sinned with our fathers. It enhances the sin considerably by adding "with our fathers." He would have seemed to extenuate, not exaggerate, if he had said, We have sinned with other mortals. But by saying, We have sinned with our fathers, he by no means lessens but aggravates their offences, while he thereby extols the goodness of God who blessed not only those who acted sinfully and impiously, but also the children and descendants of the sinful and impious, even those whom he could with the highest justice have cut off as doubly detestable. --Musculus.
Verse 6. -- Sinned; committed iniquity; done wickedly. The Rabbins tell us that there are three kinds and degrees of sin here set down in an ascending scale; against one's self, against one's neighbour, against God; sins of ignorance, sins of conscious deliberation, sins of pride and wickedness. --R. Levi and Genebrardus, in Neale and Littledale.
Verse 6. -- Though the writers of the Scriptures were by divine inspiration infallibly preserved from extravagance, yet they use every appropriate variety of strong and condemnatory language against sin ( Psalms 106:6 ). Surely moral evil cannot be a trifle. Yet it breaks forth on all occasions and on all hands. Sometimes it is in the form of forgetfulness of God ( Psalms 106:13 Psalms 106:21 ), sometimes of rash impetuosity towards evil ( Psalms 106:13 ), sometimes of strong, imperious lusts ( Psalms 106:14 ), sometimes of vile unbelief (Ps 106:12,24), and so of the whole catalogue of offences against God and man. O how vile we are! --William S. Plumer.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 6. In what respects men may be partakers in the sins of their ancestors.