Psalms 51:7

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalms 51:7 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 51:7

Purge me with hyssop
Or "thou shalt purge me with hyssop" {f}; or "expiate me"; which was used in sprinkling the blood of the paschal lamb on the door posts of the Israelites in Egypt, that the destroying angel might pass over them, ( Exodus 12:22 Exodus 12:23 ) ; and in the cleansing of the leper, ( Leviticus 14:4-7 ) ; and in the purification of one that was unclean by the touch of a dead body ( Numbers 19:6 Numbers 19:18 ) ; which the Targum on the text has respect to; and this petition of the psalmist shows that he saw himself a guilty creature, and in danger of the destroying angel, and a filthy creature like the leper, and deserving to be excluded from the society of the saints, and the house of God; and that he had respect not hereby to ceremonial sprinklings and purifications, for them he would have applied to a priest; but to the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, typified thereby; and therefore he applies to God to purge his conscience with it; and, as Suidas F7 from Theodoret observes, hyssop did not procure remission of sins, but has a mystical signification, and refers to what was meant by the sprinkling of the blood of the passover; and then he says,

and I shall be clean;
thoroughly clean; for the blood sprinkled on the heart by the spirit clears it from an evil conscience, purges the conscience from dead works, and cleanses from all sin;

wash me;
or "thou shall wash me" F8; alluding to the washing at the cleansing of a leper, and the purification of an unclean person, ( Leviticus 14:8 ) ( Numbers 19:19 ) ; but had in view the fountain of Christ's blood, in which believers are washed from all their sins, ( Zechariah 13:1 ) ( Revelation 1:5 ) ;

and I shall be whiter than snow;
who was black with original corruption, and actual transgressions; but the blood of Christ makes not only the conversation garments white that are washed in it; but even crimson and scarlet sins as white as wool, as white as snow, and the persons of the saints without spot or blemish, ( Revelation 7:14 ) ( Isaiah 1:18 ) ( Ephesians 5:25-27 ) ; "whiter than the snow" is a phrase used by Homer F9, and others, to describe what is exceeding white.


F6 (ynajxt) "purificabis me", Pagninus, Montanus; "exiabis me", Vatablus, Musculus, Cocceius, Gejerus.
F7 In voce (usswpov) .
F8 (ynobkt) "lavabis me", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Musculus, Cocceius.
F9 Iliad. 10. v. 437. So Martial. l. 7. Epigr. 27. Ovid. Amor. l. 3. Eleg. 6.

Psalms 51:7 In-Context

5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.