Verse 3. Iniquities prevail against me. Others accuse and slander me, and in addition to my own sins rise up and would beset me to my confusion, were it not for the remembrance of the atonement which covers every one of my iniquities. Our sins would, but for grace, prevail against us in the court of divine justice, in the court of conscience, and in the battle of life. Unhappy is the man who despises these enemies, and worse still is he who counts them his friends! He is best instructed who knows their deadly power, and flees for refuge to him who pardons iniquity.
As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away. Thou dost cover them all, for thou hast provided a covering propitiation, a mercyseat which wholly covers thy law. Note the word our, the faith of the one penitent who speaks for himself in the first clause, here embraces all the faithful in Zion; and he is so persuaded of the largeness of forgiving love that he leads all the saints to sing of the blessing. What a comfort that iniquities that prevail against us, do not prevail against God. They would keep us away from God, but he sweeps them away from before himself and us; they are too strong for us, but not for our Redeemer, who is mighty, yea, and almighty to save. It is worthy of note that as the priest washed in the laver before he sacrificed, so David leads us to obtain purification from sin before we enter upon the service of song. When we have washed our robes and made them white in his blood, then shall we acceptably sing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. Iniquities prevail against me. There are two ways in which iniquities may prevail against the Christian -- the first is in the growing sense of his guilt, the second is in the power of their acting. This prevalence cannot be entire, for sin shall not have dominion over them; but it may be occasional and partial. There are two ways, according to Scripture, in which God purges our transgressions; and they always go together. The one is by pardoning mercy. Thus David prays: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean." Thus the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. The other is by sanctifying grace: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean." And this is as much the work of God as the former. He subdues our iniquities as well as forgives them. William Jay.
Verse 3. Iniquities. Literally, Words of iniquities, by some regarded as a pleonastic phrase for iniquities themselves. More probably, however, the phrase means the charge or accusation of iniquity. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 3. The deeds of iniquity are said To prevail against us, in so far as they are too strong and powerful for us to deny or refute, and to subject us to a demand of those penalties which the sin merits; hence there remains no other refuge than the clemency and grace of God, the Judge. See Psalms 143:2 130:3-4. Hermann Venema.
Verse 3. As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away. In the Hebrew it is, Thou shalt hide them. It alludes to the mercy seat which was covered with the wings of the Cherubim; so are the sins of the godly, when repented of, covered with the wings of mercy and favour. Thomas Watson.
Verse 3. Thou shalt purge them away; or, Thou coverest them. The pronoun is emphatic, as though to express the conviction that God and God alone could do this. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 3. The holy prophets, and penmen of Scripture, have no grounds of hope for pardon of sin, save those which are common to the meanest of God's people; for David, in his confession, cometh in by himself alone, aggravating his own sins most: Iniquities prevail against me, saith he. But in hope of pardon, he joins with the rest of God's people, saying, As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away. David Dickson.
Verse 3-4. Now, soul, thou art molested with many lusts that infect thee, and obstruct thy commerce with heaven; yea, thou hast complained to thy God, what loss thou hast suffered by them; is it now presumption to expect relief from him, that he will rescue thee from them, that thou mayest serve him without fear, who is thy liege Lord? You have the saints for your precedents; who, when they have been in combat with their corruptions, yea, been foiled by them, have even then exercised their faith on God, and expected the ruin of those enemies, which, for the present, have overrun them. Iniquities prevail against me; he means his own sins; but see his faith; at the same time that they prevailed over him, he beholds God destroying them, as appears in the very next words, As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away. See here, poor Christian, who thinkest that thou shalt never get above deck, holy David has a faith, not only for himself, but also for all believers, of whose number I suppose thee one. And mark the ground he hath for this his confidence, taken from God's choosing act: Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts. As if he had said, Surely he will not let them be under the power of sin, or in want of his gracious succour, whom he sets so near himself. This is Christ's own argument against Satan, in the behalf of his people. "The Lord said unto Satan, the Lord rebuke thee." Zechariah 3:2 . William Gurnall.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The humble confession. Sins prevail against us.
- When we are not alert, or go into temptation, and even after most sacred engagements.
- How. Through our inbred corruption, natural constitution, suddenness of temptation, neglect of means of grace, and want of fellowship.
- In whom. In the best of men: David says, against me. Let us take home the caution.
- The reassuring confidence. Sin is forgiven.
- By God: Thou.
- By atonement: covering all.
- Effectually: purge away.
- Comprehensively: our transgressions.
- A cry of distress. Man soul besieged: Iniquities
prevail against me.
- A shout of delight. Man soul relieved: Thou shalt
purge them away. E. G. Gange.