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George Horne.

A commentary on the book of Psalms (Volume 2) online

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this matter, but God only; who, being able to convict
the offender, as he did, by the prophet Nathan, would
assuredly be justified in the sentence he should pro-
nounce. And he will appear to be so in his deter-
minations at the last day, when he will surprise the
wretched unthinking sinner, with a declaration simi-
lar to that which he made, by his prophet, to the
royal offender, 2 Sam. xii. 12. " Thou didst it se-
cretly ; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and
before the sun."

" 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin
did my mother conceive me."

The divine mercy is implored by the penitent,

fourthly, because that alone can dry up the fountain

of original corruption, from which the streams of

actual transgression derive themselves; and which is

Vol. II. C



38 [Ps. 51.

here only lamented as their cause, not alleged as their
excuse; seeing, that the greater our danger is of
falling, the greater should be our care to stand. Da-
vid was the offspring of the marriage-bed, which is
declared to be " honourable and undefiled." No
more, therefore, can be intended here, than that a
creature begotten by a sinner, and formed in the
womb of a sinner, cannot be without that taint which
is hereditary to every son and daughter of Adam
and Eve.*

" 6. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward
parts, Heh, the reins ; and in the hidden part thou
shalt make, or^ hast made, me know wisdom."

The force of " Behold," is — " It is too plain; I
feel it but too sensibly, the punishment I suffer is
evidence sufficient, that thou art not contented with
a superficial appearance of goodness : thou lovest
truth and sincerity in the bottom of the heart."
This God was now teaching him, by the correction
he made him suffer. The punishment inflicted tend-
ed to give him a right understanding of things, and
to work it deep into him. Mudge.

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

He therefore petitioneth in this verse, for the



* And so much must surely be intended, as the learned Bossuet
observeth — Numquid David de adulterio natus erat? De Jesse
viro justo natus erat, et conjuge ipsius. Quid ergo se dicit in
iniquitate conceptum, nisi quia suscepit personam humani gene-
ris, et attendit omnium vineula, propaginem mortis, originem ini-
quitatis advertit ?



Ps. 51.] 39

purification which cometh from God only, through
the one great propitiatory sacrifice, by the Holy Spi-
rit ; and which was foreshown, under the law, by the
ceremony of sprinkling the unclean person with a
bunch of " hyssop," dipped in the " water of separa-
tion." This rite is described. Numb. xix. and ex-
plained, Heb. ix. 13, 14. " If the blood of bulls
and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling
the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh;
how much more shall the blood of Christ, who,
through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without'
spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works
to serve the living God !" From the latter part
of the verse we learn, that, by grace and mercy, the
pardoned penitent is arrayed in garments no less pure
and splendid than those of innocence itself.

" 8. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the
bones "mliich thou hast broken, may rejoice."

Next to the blessing of forgiveness, is to be de-
sired that joy and comfort in the conscience which
forgiveness only can inspire: the effect of this, in
repairing the vigour of the spirit, decayed through
sorrow and anguish, is compared to setting broken
bones, and restoring them again to perfect strength.
At the resurrection of the body, this petition will be
granted in a literal sense, when the " bones," tha
are mouldered into dust, shall " rejoice, and flourish
as an herb." Isa. Ixvi. 14.

" 9. Hide thy face from my sins ; and blot out
all mine iniquities."

The soul, still restless and uneasy, reiterates her

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[Ps. 51.



request, that God would not only cease to behold
her iniquity for the present, as a man who turneth
away his face from a writing, but that he would not
behold it more, as a man who blotteth out what is
written, so that it can never be read again.

" 10. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and
renew a right, or, constant, spirit within me."

The purification and renovation of the heart and
spirit of a man is a work to which that power only
is equal which, in the beginning, created all things,
and, in the end, will create all things new. *' A
right spirit is renewed within us," when the affec-
tions turn from the world to God, and charity takes
the place of concupiscence.

''11. Cast me not a.way j7'om thy presence; and
take not thy holy Spirit from me."

The soul that is truly penitent, dreads nothing
but the thought of being rejected from the "presence,"
and deserted by the " Spirit" of God. This is the
most deplorable and irremediable effect of sin: but
it is one, that in general perhaps is the least consi-
dered and regarded of all others.

" 12. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation; and
uphold me with thy free, or, princely, or, liberal.
Spirit."

David prayeth to God to restore to him the un-
speakable joy of that salvation which, as a prophet,
he had so often contemplated, and celebrated in his
divine compositions ; he prayeth also to be preserved
and continued in that state of salvation, by the Spirit



PS. 51.] 41

of God, which might enable him to act as became a
prophet and a king, free from base desires and en-
slaving lusts.

" 13. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways,
and sinners shall be converted unto thee."

He that would employ his abilities, his influence,
and his authority, in the reformation of others, must
take care to reform himself, before he enters upon
the work. " When thou art converted," said Christ
to St. Peter, " strengthen thy brethren." Luke
xxii. 32. The history of David has " taught" us
many useful lessons; such as, the frailty of man, the
danger of temptation, the torment of sin, the nature
and efficacy of repentance, the mercy and the judg-
ments of God, &c. &c. by which many " sinners"
have in all ages since been " converted," and many
more will be converted, so long as the Scriptures shall
be read, and the 51st Psalm recited in the church.

" 14



Online LibraryGeorge HorneA commentary on the book of Psalms (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 24)