The Berean Expositor
Volume 31 - Page 118 of 181
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Occasional Meditations.
Psalm 51:
pp. 11, 12
The heading of this Psalm gives a true introduction to its "feeling": "A Psalm of
David" (the name, David, means "the Beloved One") "when Nathan the prophet"
(whose name means "a Gift") "came unto him". In type, we have here a beloved child
of God, convicted of sin by the Given One, Christ, and the spirit and gift of repentance.
His only plea is for mercy. Mercy speaks of pure grace and this alone is the sinner's plea
(see Luke 18: 13).
There is a wonderful suggestion of the twofold nature of sin in the words "blot out"
and "wash me" in verses 1 and 2 of the Psalm. Sin is in God's book and needs blotting
out: it is criminal. Sin is also in the sinner and needs cleansing: It is filth and corruption.
In verse 3 the nature of true repentance is seen; sin looms large, and hysterical emotion
finds little room.  Verse 4 makes clear that sin, though against our neighbour, is
nevertheless against God. It is, in His sight, therefore, abominable. Verse 5 shows that
original guilt not only does not excuse but heightens the hopeless condition of a sinner, or
a saint, in himself, for though outward sin be diminished yet the root is there, and is seen
and felt by the spiritual eye. In verse 7 the word "purge" may be rendered "make a sin
offering". The hyssop suggests the Passover and the broken bones of verse 8 speak
plainly of David's realization of his own unfitness to be, or to make, the offering (see
Exod. 12: 46, Psa. 34: 19, 20). This explains the sixteenth verse of the Psalm. The
Lord did desire sacrifice for He had commanded it, yet He did not desire it from man, but
from Christ, as Heb. 10: 1-10 shows. Verses 9-12 witness to the fact that although a
saved sinner can never finally be lost, yet any practice of sin prevents access into the
presence of God, deprives the offender of the enjoyment of fellowship, and leaves him in
doubt of the future. Verse 13 agrees with the clear teaching of the N.T. that effective
instruction cannot take place until one has oneself been put right with regard to sin. The
Lord has not promised to use an unclean vessel, even though that vessel be made of gold
or silver.
So far as the Old Covenant is concerned, David here prays an impossible prayer.
There was no sacrifice for the sin of murder! Would then David seek to move God to
excuse his sin? No, for he says that if the Lord delivers him he will sing of His
righteousness, which necessitates the legal removal of the penalty. David had faith, as
had all who were saved before Christ, to see beyond the offering of bulls and goats to the
One Who was to come, the Lamb of God Himself. The saved sinner does not sing aloud
of his own righteousness, for, as verse 15 shows, his mouth is shut, as in the case of the
man in the parable, who had not on a wedding garment. Let us learn the result of this
great deliverance; it is praise. The sacrifices of verse 17 are accepted because of the
sacrifice of Christ. Verses 18 and 19 speak literally of Jerusalem and of literal sacrifices
for they look on to the time of the millennial reign of Christ.