Verse 17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. All sacrifices are presented to thee in one, by the man whose broken heart presents the Saviour's merit to thee. When the heart mourns for sin, thou art better pleased than when the bullock bleeds beneath the axe. "A broken heart" is an expression implying deep sorrow, embittering the very life; it carries in it the idea of all but killing anguish in that region which is so vital as to be the very source of life. So excellent is a spirit humbled and mourning for sin, that it is not only a sacrifice, but it has a plurality of excellences, and is preeminently God's sacrifices. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. A heart crushed is a fragrant heart. Men contemn those who are contemptible in their own eyes, but the Lord seeth not as man seeth. He despises what men esteem, and values that which they despise. Never yet has God spurned a lowly, weeping penitent, and never will he while God is love, and while Jesus is called the man who receiveth sinners. Bullocks and rams he desires not, but contrite hearts he seeks after; yea, but one of them is better to him than all the varied offerings of the old Jewish sanctuary.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 16-17. See Psalms on "Psalms 51:16" for further information.
Verse 17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, etc. When speaking of thankfulness, we might have expected him to say, "a joyful heart, or a thankful heart," but instead of that he says, "a contrite heart." For the joy of forgiveness does not banish sorrow and contrition for sin: this will still continue. And the deeper the sense of sin, and the truer the sorrow for it, the more heartfelt also will be the thankfulness for pardon and reconciliation. The tender, humble, broken heart, is therefore the best thank offering. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 17. It may be observed that the second word, (xkbn) which we render contrite, denotes the being bruised and broken to pieces, as a thing is bruised in a mortar (See Numbers 11:8 ), and therefore, in a moral sense, signifies such a weight of sorrow as must wholly crush the mind without some powerful and seasonable relief. Samuel Chandler.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- Scripture estimate of sin.
- Personal accountability -- My sin.
- Estimated as hateful to God -- Against thee, etc.
- Sin estimated as separation from God.
- Spiritual restoration. First step -- Sacrifice of a broken spirit. Last step -- Spirit of liberty. Thy free spirit. F. W. Robertson.