Psalm 51:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. For I acknowledge my transgressions. Here he sees the plurality and immense number of his sins, and makes open declaration of them. He seems to say, I make a full confession of them. Not that this is my plea in seeking forgiveness, but it is a clear evidence that I need mercy, and am utterly unable to look to any other quarter for help. My pleading guilty has barred me from any appeal against the sentence of justice: O Lord, I must cast myself on thy mercy, refuse me not, I pray thee. Thou hast made me willing to confess. O follow up this work of grace with a full and free remission! And my sin is ever before me. My sin as a whole is never out of my mind; it continually oppresses my spirit. I lay it before thee because it is ever before me: Lord, put it away both from thee and me. To an awakened conscience, pain on account of sin is not transient and occasional, but intense and permanent, and this is no sign of divine wrath, but rather a sure preface of abounding favour.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3. For I acknowledge my transgressions, etc. To acknowledge our transgressions, there's confession; and to have our sin ever before us, there's conviction and contrition. To acknowledge our transgressions, I say, is to confess our sins; to call them to mind, to bring them back to our remembrance what we can; to own them with shame, and to declare them with sorrow; to reckon them up one by one, to give in a particular account of them, as far as our memory will serve, and to spread them before the Lord, as Hezekiah did Rabshakah's letter, and in a humble sense of our own vileness to implore his goodness, that he would multiply his mercies over us, as we have multiplied our transgressions against him, in their free and full forgiveness of them all. To have our sin ever before us, is throughly to be convinced of it, to be continually troubled in mind about it, to be truly humbled under the sense of it, and to be possessed of those dreads and terrors of conscience which may never let us rest or enjoy any quiet within our own breast till we have reconciled ourselves to a gracious God for it. Adam Littleton.

Verse 3. I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. There cannot be agnitio if there be not cognitio peccati, and acknowledging, unless there precede a knowledge of sin. David puts them together. If our sins be not before us, how can we set them before God? And therefore, to the right exercise of this duty, there is required a previous examination of our hearts, inspection into our lives, that we may be enabled to see our sins. He that hath not yet asked himself that question, Quid feci? What have I done? can never make the confession, si feci, thus and thus have I done; and in this respect I would, thought not require, yet advise it as a pious and prudent practice, and that which I doubt not but many Christians have found benefit by, to keep a constant daily catalogue, as of mercies received, so of sins committed. Nathaneal Hardy.

Verse 3. I, my, my. David did not think it sufficient to acknowledge that the whole human race were sinners; but as if he stood alone in the world, and was the only offender in it, he says, "I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me." Charles de Coetlogon.

Verse 3. MY sin. David owneth his sin, and confesseth it his own. Here is our natural wealth: what can we call our own but sin? Our food and raiment, the necessaries of life, are borrowings. We came hungry and naked into the world, we brought none of these with us, and we deserved none of them here. Our sin came with us, as David after confesseth. We have right of inheritance in sin, taking it by traduction and transmission from our parents: we have right of possession. So Job: "Thou makest me to possess the sins of my youth." Samuel Page.

Verse 3. My SIN. It is sin, as sin, not its punishment here, not hereafter, not simply any of its evil consequences; but sin, the sin against God, the daring impiety of my breaking the good and holy law of this living, loving God. Thomas Alexander, D.D., in "The Penitent's Prayer," 1861.

Verse 3. Ever before me. Sorrow for sin exceeds sorrow for suffering, in the continuance and durableness thereof: the other, like a landlord, quickly come, quickly gone; this is a continual dropping or running river, keeping a constant stream. My sins, saith David, are ever before me; so also is the sorrow for sin in the soul of a child of God, morning, evening, day, night, when sick, when sound, fasting, at home, abroad, ever within him. This grief begins at his conversion, continues all his life, ends only at his death. Thomas Fuller.

Verse 3. Before me. Coram populo, before the people; shame to him: coram ecclesia, before the church; grief to them: coram inimicis, before the enemies; joy to them: coram Deo, before God; anger against him: coram Nathane, before Nathan; a chiding. But if any hope of repentance and amendment, it is peccatum meum coram me, my sin before me. Here is the distress of a sinner, he never discerneth how unhappy he is, till his sin is before him. Samuel Page.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 3.

  1. Confession. "I acknowledge," etc.
  2. Humiliation, not a mere confession with the lips, but ever before me -- in its guilt -- defilement -- consequences in this life and hereafter.

Verse 3-4,11-12,17.

  1. Scripture estimate of sin.
  2. Personal accountability -- My sin.
  3. Estimated as hateful to God -- Against thee, etc.
  4. Sin estimated as separation from God.
  5. Spiritual restoration. First step -- Sacrifice of a broken spirit. Last step -- Spirit of liberty. Thy free spirit. F. W. Robertson.