|Be merciful to me, God, * because of your kindness.|
Because of your great mercy, * wipe out my crimes.
Rain down to wash me of my guilt * and cleanse me of my sins.
| The crimes that accuse me I know; * my sin is ever before me.|
Against you alone have I sinned; * and before your eyes committed the crime.
|So you are right when you sentence, * and blameless when you judge.|
| Yes, I was born with guilt; * my mother conceived me in sin.|
Yes, truth you prefer * to occult and crafty know-how; * teach me wisdom!
| Unsin me, and I'll be purer than spring water; * wash me and I'll be whiter than snow.|
Let me hear rejoicing and gladness; * let the bones you crushed revive.
| Turn your face from my sins, * and delete all my crimes.|
Create a clean heart in me, God, * put a new and loyal spirit in me.
Do not banish me from your presence, * nor deprive me of your holy Spirit.
| Give me again your saving joy, * and by your generous spirit sustain me,|
that I may teach rebels your ways, * and sinners to return to you.
| Deliver me from the tears of death, * God, my God;|
then, my Savior, will my tongue * sing loudly of your goodness.
|Lord, open my lips, * that my mouth may declare your praise.|
| Should you delight in a sacrifice * I would offer it; * the same should you desire a holocaust.|
The finest sacrifice is a contrite spirit; * a crushed and contrite heart * God, do not reject.
|In your goodness beautify Zion; * Rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.|
Then you will accept proper sacrifices, * offerings wholly burnt; * then young bulls will mount your altar.
1. Unto the end, a psalm of David,
2. When Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had sinned with Bathsheba.
51:0 This is Psalm 51. After repudiating the ancient sacrifices of sheep, and showing that God wants a sacrifice of praise, lest people thing that this consists only in sound and noise from the lips, he shows what really perfects this sacrifice, namely, hope, contrition and true repentance. Here David himself is put as an example who, after commiting the crimes of adultery and murder, made satisfaction to God through this sacrifice. This is clearly indicated in the title, a psalm of David, after he had gone in to Bathsheba, that is, this Psalm was composed by the real David in his repentance, and therefore it suits any penitent. When Nathan the prophet came to him, rebuking him for the sin of adultery. This is clear from 2 Samuel 12. When he went in-Scripture speaks diplomatically -Ps 12:7 The words of Yahweh are pure words. To Bathsheba, committing adultery with her.
Three things are to be noted in this title: (1) that a sin committed secretly is publicized to the whole world -2 Sam 12:12 You did this in secret, but I will make the matter known before all Israel and before the sun. -Luke 12:2 There is nothing covered which will not be revealed, or hidden which will not be made known. (2) that the more serious part of the sin, murder, is not mentioned, teaching us, when we talk of the sins of others, to talk of them as little as possible. -Sir 8:5 Do not despise a man turning away from sin. (3) that reference to the crime should be left implicit in the words -"when he entered". This is because explicit speech, especially about sins against chastity, quickly stir people up. Therefore he teaches us not to speak that way -Eph 5:3 Fornication and every uncleanness or avarice should not even be mentioned among you, as befits the saints.
The Psalm is divided into three parts: (1) The penitent David speaks in his own person or that of any penitent, yearning for forgiveness. (2) He bemoans his present misery: "Deliver me from blood". (3) He longs for the homeland: "Deal favorably". He yearns for forgiveness (1) generally, (2) specifically: "according to the multitude".
3. Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.
Be merciful to me, God, because of your kindness.
51:1.1 The idea is: If, as I hear, Lord, you wish not calves or goats, but the sacrifice of a contrite heart, then I say, O God, since it is for God, not for man, to have mercy -Luke 5:21 Who can forgive sins, except God alone? -Is 42:45 I am the one who wipes out sins for my own sake, be merciful. Therefore, David, are you miserable? Are you not loaded with wealth, and raised high with royal dignity, and endowed with wisdom and knowledge of future things like an eminent prophet and, according to your standard, ordinary men call a people blessed who have such things (Ps 144:15). So why are you moaning? What more could I do for you that I have not done? (Is 5:4). Response: Prov 14:34 Sin disgraces whole races, and makes a slave out of the king of nations -John 8:34 Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. O certainly it is a grave and great sin which makes miserable someone who abounds in so many blessings. On me -He does not say "David", for "me" is a pronoun which designates a pure substance, whose maker is certainly God. Why should you have mercy on me, your creature? -Wis 11:24 You love everything and hate nothing of what you made.
Acording to your mercy, not according to the justice of the Law -Lev 20:10 If anyone commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, the adulterer and the adulteress shall die. -Heb 10:28 Anyone who puts aside the law of Moses, upon the witness of two or three should be put to death without mercy. Yours, O Christ, yours, which is natural to you on the side of your Father, who is (2 Cor 1:3) the Father of mercies and all consolation, and on the side of your Mother, who is similarly the Mother of mercy -Job 31:18 From my infancy mercy grew up with me (Vul). And your mercy which is great, for if it were not great, how could it do such great things? For power is diagnosed by its operation. Among all your works, let me touch upon one with Cassiodorus, who said: This mercy set the Creator of the world in heaven, and made him who in eternity remains co-equal with the Father, equal with us in mortality. It impose the form of a servant on the Lord of the world, so that he who is bread itself would be hungry, he who is the font of life would be thirsty, strength itself would be made weak, and the one who has all power over life would die.
And according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity.
Because of your great mercy, wipe out my crimes.
51:220.127.116.11.1 Here he prays, yearning for forgiveness specifically, praying (1) first against the stain, that it be blotted out, (2) against the memory of the sin, that it may not stay with God: "turn your face", and (3) against the penalty, that it may be remitted: "Do not cast me away". Under the first heading, there is (1) a prayer, (2) an effort to persuade: "For my iniquity", (3) certain confidence of being heard: "Sprinkle me". In the first, he prays to be washed from the stain (1) by the tears of contrition, (2) by the tears of acknowledgement: "More and more", (3) by the tears of satisfaction: "And from my sin". The idea is: I ask for mercy, and specifically according to the multitude of your mercies, which are the effects of your mercy, many of which I have seen. And I ask that confidently -Sir 2:10-11 Who ever called on him and was ignored? For the Lord is kind and merciful. Wipe out my iniquity. Do not include riches and knowledge. This iniquity is written down boldly -Jer 17:1 The sin of Judah is witten with an iron pen, engraved with a diamond point. The diamond is a strong stone that cannot be broken except by means of goat blood. Likewise, sin cannot be wiped out except by the blood of Christ, symbolized by a goat -Ez 43:25 For seven days you shall offer a he-goat as a sin offering. Every day for all time he will immolate the flesh of Christ for sins, the flesh he took which is like that of a sinner -Rom 8:3 He sent his son in the likeness of sinful flesh. Therefore wipe it out. The answer is in Isaiah 44:22 I wiped out your crime like a storm-cloud, for mortal sins, and your sin like a cloud, as for venial sins.
4. Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Rain down to wash me of my guilt and cleanse me of my sins
51:18.104.22.168.2 The idea is: Wipe out through contrition of heart, and wash me more through the tears of acknowledgement. This seems very presumptuous on his part. He had dirtied himself with the mud of sin, and now he calls on God to wash him. And that is right, for everything he found in the world was unclean -Is 64:5 We have all become unclean. -Sir 34:4 What can be washed with something unclean? Nothing, but it will only become dirtier. -Num 19:22 Everything that something unclean touches becomes unclean. -Ez 16:30 In what shall I cleanse your heart? (Vul), says the Lord. In nothing but yourself. You must make yourself the washbasin. And that is what he did, and he accepted to be pierced all over and shed blood to wash us -Ps 78:15 You opened the rock, which is Christ -1 Cor 10:4 The rock was Christ. And waters flowed and torrents flooded to wash the greater and the lesser world. The Church sings: "The land, the sea, the stars and the world, by what a river are they washed!" This is the greater world. Then, in Rev 1:5 He loved us and washed us from our sins in his blood is the lesser world. So wash me from my iniquity which soils me -Tit 1:15 To unbelievers nothing is clean, but their mind and conscience are soiled. Wash me more, not only from the act, but also from the circumstance of the act, since I sinned knowingly, not in ignorance. -Augustine: Wash more someone who is very dirty. Wash much more the sins of one who sinned knowingly than one who sinned in ignorance. Or wash me more than I know how to ask, because I do no know myself -1 Cor 4:4 I am not conscious of anything, but I am not thereby justified.
51:22.214.171.124.3 But some are washed without being cleansed, -2 Pet 2:22 As soon as a pig is washed, it wallows in the mud. Therefore he adds from my sin, that which is my own and for which I am responsible, to fulfil Isaiah 1:16 Wash and be clean.
Note that the sinner must always call to be washed and cleansed, for three reasons: (1) for many forgotten sins -Prayer of Manasses [apocryphal] 1:9 I have committed more sins than the sand by the sea, and my iniquities are many. -Ps 40:13 Countless evils surround me. (2) because the sins are firmly attached -Bar 1:20 Evils have stuck to us, like skin to the flesh -Jer 13:23 Can an Ethiopian change his skin, or a leopard its stripes, so can you do good when you are used to evil? (3) because of the ease of going back to uncleanliness -Job 9:30 If I wash myself in snow, cleanse my hands in soda, you will only plunge me into the pit, till my clothes themselves recoil from me, so that I would need more washing.
5. For I know my iniquity,
The crimes that accuse me I know;
51:126.96.36.199.1.1 After making a prayer, he now tries to persuade, (1) first from his acknowledgement of sin, (2) from God's promise of mercy: "that you may be justified", (3) from human fragility: "See, in iniquity", (4) from God's goodness: "Yes, you love truth". In the first, there is (1) a recognition of the sin, (2) a permanent detestation of the sin: "and my sin", (3) a humble acknowlegement of the sin: "Against you along have I sinned". The idea is: I ask that I be shown mercy, but I do not want to forego justice altogether. Or: Cleanse me, as you ought, for I know my iniquity. I know my iniquity because I do not consider its pleasure, but look at its deformity and detest it. -Cassiodorus: The only ones who really acknowledge their sins are those who condemn them with a self-curse -Nahum 3:7 All who see you will run away from you.
and my sin is always before me.
my sin is ever before me.
51:188.8.131.52.1.2 And the sin that I know is before me always as something I detest -Ps 50:21 I will accuse you and draw up a case before your eyes. -Cassiodorus: Here, as already arraigned before the future judgment, he fears the darkest aspects of his crimes. Augustine gives another reading: is against me always, with the idea: At first, sin was behind me when I said, "The man who did that should die," but Nathan put my sin before me and against me, when he said, "You are that man" (2 Sam 12:7). Nor did it leave my sight, as happens with many who quickly consign their sins to oblivion, if they ever did recognize them. The first reason for that is that the sins themselves blind us -Wis 2:21 Their wickedness blinded them. -Ps 40:13 My sins have caught up with me, and I am unable to escape.
The second reason is that sins hide (1) sometimes under pleasure -Qoheleth 5:19 He will hardly notice the days of his life, because God occupies his heart with joy, (2) sometimes under the praise of flatterers -Ps 10:3 The sinner is praised for the desires of his heart (Vul). The Gloss adds: He delights to do those things when not only is there no one to rebuke him, but there are those who praise him. (3) sometimes by the multitude of sinners, since if everyone is doing it, it seems right -Qoheleth 1:15 What is crooked is not easily straightened, and the reason is since the number of stupid people is infinite (Vul). (4) sometimes under the authority of elders -a homily of Gregory: They favor the sins of criminals so that they will not lose temporal advantages.
The third reason that they are not known is because they pretend to be virtues. -Jerome: Many praise pride in place of liberty and, being deceived, glory in vices as if they were virtues. -1 Kings 14:6 He said, "Come in, wife of Jeroboam, that is crime, why do you pretend to be someone else?
6. To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee:
Against you alone have I sinned; and before your eyes committed the crime.
51:184.108.40.206.1.3 Here is a humble and holy acknowledgement of the boldness of the sin. And I have done evil before you, meaning: Cleanse me, because I recognize my sin, I detest it, and openly acknowledge it, for only against you have I sinned. How can he say this? Did he not commit a sin of murder and sedition? So he did not sin only against the Lord, but also against his neighbor. And, if we pay close attention, every sinner sins against every creature of God: (1) against heaven, because he saddens the heavenly Jerusalem, our mother -Gal 4:26 The Jerusalem which is above is our mother. -Prov 10:1 A stupid son is the sorrow of his mother. -Bar 4:8 You have saddend your nurse, Jerusalem. (2) Likewise he sins against all corporal and visible things of this world because, as far as he can, he impedes and retards their glorious transformation which they yearn for. -Rom 8:22 We know that every creature groans and is in pain up till now, awaiting that renovation spoken of in Rev 21:5 See, I make everything new. (3) He also sins against the underworld, because he supplies it with more occupants to make it burn hotter -Luke 16:28 The rich man wished to warn his brothers, lest they also come to this place of torment. -Is 14:9 Sheol below is asir to greet your arrival.
Answer: The Gloss explains this in two ways: that you alone expresses either the royal dignity of David or singular dignity of Christ. In the first way, I sinned against you alone means that only you should punish me, because I am a king and have no superior but you -Qoheleth 5:7 Over every official there watches a higher official, and over these higher officials still, and a king rules over all the land (Vul). Or, secondly, do not let others who are sinners like me punish me, but only you do so, who are without sin. It properly belongs to you to punish me, to show the singular dignity of Christ, who alone is without sin. -Pet 2:22 (=Is 53:9) Who did not sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth. -John 8:7 Whoever is without sin, let him throw the first stone. -Heb 10:30 Vengeance is mine, and I will give back.
And done evil before you. Discerning, judging and weighing everything, I did this extremely imprudently -Ps 34:17 The fury of Yaweh is with evildoers. This warnng should have confounded and certainly terrified them, since he himself will bear witness to the truth he has seen -Jer 29:23 I am the judge and the witness, says the Lord. Therefore Boethius says at the end of his book The consolation of philosphy: We have a great inborn necessity for honesty, if we do not want to deceive ourselves, since everything we do is before the eyes of the One who observes everything.
that thou mayst be justified in thy words, and mayst overcome when thou art judged.
So you are right when you sentence, and blameless when you judge.
51:220.127.116.11.2 He now tries to persuade from God's promise of mercy, according to one of several possible readings: (1) That justice of truth is meant, with the idea: I have sinned before you who are just, and may you be justified, that is, be found true, in your sentence, overcoming other judges when you judge, that is, when you compare the sentences -Prov 8:8 All the words of my mouth are just; there is nothing crooked or perverse about them.
Or, you are just, O Christ, and so just that you will be justified, that is, you alone will be found just, in your sentence, so that you will surpass all men in justice when, meaning "although", you are judged unjustly before Pilate. Augustine: Only you judge justly and are judged unjustly. -Ps 143:2 No one alive can be justified before you.
Or, truth will pronounce victory over the devils. You will be so justified in your words that you will overcome the devil and death -Hosea 13:14 Death, I will be your death; Sheol, I will be your destruction (Vul).
Another reading is about justice promising and having mercy, either the Incarnation or forgiveness of sins. The idea is: O Father, may you be justified in your words, and this is unchangeable, and overcome, that is, show people to be liars, when you are judged by others not to be doing what you promised, that is, to send your Son -Num 23:19 God is not a man that he can lie, or like a human being that he can change -Esther 6:
Or it is about justice promising forgiveness, against those who say that forgiveness for such great sins is unobtainable, with the idea: Cleanse me, that you may be justified in the sight of men, when in reality none can be more just than you, and overcome, that is show people to be liars, when you are judged by them to be unable to foregive whatsoever sin -Sir 12:3 The Most High hates sinners and has mercy on the repentant (Vul). -Ez 18:21-22 If the wicked man turns from the sins he has committed, and keeps my statutes, and lives justly, he will certainly live, and all his crimes will not be recorded against him.
7. For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.
Yes, I was born with guilt; my mother conceived me in sin.
51:18.104.22.168.3 Here he tries to persuade, arguing from human weakness, since he was (1) conceived in original guilt, and (2) from the lust of his parents: "and she conceived me in sin". The Gloss gives two explanations: (1) You overcome all, not only those who committed major crimes, but the whole human race, in whose person I say See, I was conceived. (2) Truly I sinned against you, for I was conceived in iniquity, meaning: From my very origin I contracted corruption, and therefore fell into sin. He does not say this to excuse his sin, but to arouse mercy.
Note that the plural "iniquities" is taken for the singular, "iniquity". And this is not to be understood as the sin of his parents, as some think, since he was conceived born in a holy wedlock. And the conjugal act can be performed without any sin, as is clear in Tobit 6:22, where the angel said to the younger Tobit: After the third night take the virgin with fear of the Lord, led by a love of children rather than impelled by lust, so that in the seed of Abraham you may receive a blessing in children (Vul).
Or he means by "iniquities" some irregularities that they contracted somehow in their union -Lev 15:16 A man from whom seed comes out in copulation should wash his whole body in water.
Or I was conceived in iniquities, that is, among wicked people -Ez 2:6 Son of man, you are living among scorpions.
Or I was conceived in iniquities, not of my neighbors, but of my forefathers, such as Judah's sin with Tamar (Gen 38) -Wis 4:6 Children born from illegal unions witness, when put on trial,against the fornication of their parents.
Or I was conceived among neighbors who are guilty at least of venial sin -Prov 20:9 Who can say, "My heart is pure, I am clean from sin"? This does not mean that they sinned venially in the conjugal act, but in other actions.
And my mother conceived me in sin, that is, with lust, which would be a sin if it were not for the good of having children. But why does he refer to the lust of his mother rather than his father? He seems to confirm the opinion of doctors that the woman has more lust than the man. For she desires a man, as matter desires form, and there are stories that Firesihas determined this.
Another reading: My mother carried me in her womb with original sin. This is against those who say that David was sanctified in the womb.
8. For behold thou hast loved truth:
Yes, truth you prefer
51:22.214.171.124.4.1 Here he tries to persuade on the basis of God's goodness which he has received. He makes two points: (1) that he loves the truth of God's wisdom, (2) that this wisdom has been revealed to him: "the uncertain and hidden things". The idea is: I do not blame you, Lord, but speak the truth, for you love the truth. Or: Because of my acknowledging my sin, since you love the truth, may you forgive my sins -Prov 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is atoned. -Ps 84:12 God loves mercy and truth (Vul).
the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.
to occult and crafty know-how; teach me wisdom.
51:126.96.36.199.4.2 Three interpretations are given, referring to: (1) a revelation made to him about the Incarnation, (2) God's excelling knowledge, (3) a revelation of forgiveness. In the first interpretation the idea is: You love truth, and what is uncertain to men and hidden in itself in the treasure of your wisdom you made known to me, such a great sinner. The revelation is of the Incarnation -2 Sam 23:1 David, son of Jesse, said, Thus speaks the man to whom was established concerning the Anointed of the God of Jacob (Vul). He calls this mystery hidden wisdom -1 Cor 1:24 We preach Christ, God's power and wisdom.
In the second interpretation, the uncertain and hidden things are what ought [not] to be hidden to others -Jer 2:8 The guardians of the Law did not know me. -Hosea 4:1 There is no knowledge of God on earth. Of your wisdom-this is the true wisdom -Wis 13:1 Naturally stupid are all who are unaware of God. -Jer 9:23 Let anyone who boasts boast that he understands and knows me. You have made known to me -Ps 135:5 I know that Yahweh is great.
In the third interpretation, what was uncertain and hidden to everyone except myself and Bathsheba, you made known to me through Nathan, the prophet -2 Sam 12:13 David said," I have sinned against Yahweh." Nathan then said to David, "Yahweh forgives your sin."
Note here that there are three kinds of truth that God loves: (1) The truth of life, which the hypocrites lack -Mat 7:15 They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravaging wolves. Therefore they are not loved by God -Job 36:13 The hypocritcal-hearted lay up anger for themselves. So this truth is against hypocrisy. (2) And there is truth which is opposed to heresy -2 Tim 2:18 They departed from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place. Since they depart from the truth of the Faith, they cannot be loved by God, who is truth. -Heb 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please God. (3) And there is the truth of a pure confession -Joshua 7:19 Tell me what you did, and do not hide anything. This truth is very pleasing to God, so much so that as soon as it is spoken, or as soon as the heart proposes to speak it, God's mercy and kindness comes to the person -Ps 85:11 Mercy and truth have met.
9. Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed:
Unsin me, and I'll be purer than spring water;
51:188.8.131.52.1.1 Here is shown confidence in being heard. He is confident in two things: (1) that he will be cleansed, (2) that he will then be given joy: "to my hearing". To be cleansed, he trusts in two things that flowed from Christ's side (John 19:34), namely (1) blood and (2) water: "you will wash me". The idea is: It was not in vain that you made known to me the uncertain and hidden mysteries of wisdom, because you will sprinkle me with hyssop, with which, after it has been dipped into blood, lepers are sprinkled (Lev 14:6), and I will be cleansed, for the sinner is a leper. The sign of leprosy is the appearance of irregular colors on the skin. Irregular color is sin -Prov 15:7 The heart of the stupid is unlike that. Christ is hyssop, that is, a humble plant -Mat 11:29 Learn from me, because I am meek and humble of heart. It is also a warm plant, and Christ, according to his divinity was very hot, even like fire -Deut 4:24 Yahweh, your God, is a consuming fire. This hyssop was dipped in blood during his Passion -Is 63:1 Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah in crimson garments? Lepers, that is, sinners, are cleansed by this hyssop dipped in blood -Heb 9:14 The blood of Christ, who through the Holy Spirit offered himself as an unblemished offering, will cleanse our consciences. -1 Pet 1:2 sprinked with the blood of Christ.
thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
wash me and I'll be whiter than snow.
51:184.108.40.206.1.2 Here is mentioned washing with water: You will sprinkle me, and then wash me with water which came out with blood from the side of Christ and was indistinguishible from it -Rev 1:5 He loved us and washed us from our sins his blood. Rev 7:14 They washed their stoles and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
And I will be whiter than snow. Objection: There is nothing whiter than snow. Cassiodorus answers: No physical thing can be found whiter than snow, but the spiritual soul is much more brilliant than physical bodies -Ps 45:14 All the glory of the king's daughter is inside (Vul). -Cant 4:3 Your cheeks are like halves of a sliced pomogranate, besides what hides inside (Vul).
Or: You you made known to me the forgiveness of my sin, because you will sprinkle me with hyssop and I will be clean, because that plant is humble and warm, with humility and charity, and these virtues not only take away the stain of sin, but also give beauty. You will wash me with them and I will be whiter than snow -Cant 4:7 You are totally beautiful, my friend, and there is no stain in you.
Note also that the hyssop which cleanses and whitens the soul is repentance, for six reasons. Two of them pertain to contrition of heart: (1) For hyssop is a warm plant, and the penitent should be warm interiorly, if he is really repentant -Ps 39:3 My heart burned within me. At the thought, a fire flared up. -Rom 12:11 fervent in spirit. For the Lord vomits out the lukewarm (Rev 3:8). (2) Hyssop casts water, and is used as a sprinkler. So a truly penitent person sheds tears -Judith 8:14 Let us repent and ask his pardon with tears (Vul). It is said that a small torch sheds hot drops when it is lit. (3) Also hyssop is a laxative, and so is good for purging the stomach. Likewise, true repentance expels sin bit by bit like so much excrement, and thereby heals -Prov 12:6 What the honest say keeps them safe. (4) Likewise it does not cause vomiting, but expels corruption gradually, from one part to another. So oral confession should proceed from one thing to another, and not be for everything at once -Sir 4:29 Do not rush your speech (Vul). The last two had to do with oral confession. (5) Likewise hyssop grows in cracks -1 Kings 4:33 the hyssop which grew out of the wall (Vul addition). So sanctification must be rooted in works opposed to the pleasure which was in sin -Prov 30:26 The coneys, a race without defences, yet they make their home in the rocks. -Ps 60:5 You showed your people hard things (Vul). (6) Likewise, it is humble and small. So a penitent should be humble in making satisfaction -Ps 107:17 They were punished for their iniquities. And that against the elation which was in their sin -Ps 38:9 I am spent and utterly crushed.
10. To my hearing thou shalt give joy and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled shall rejoice.
Let me hear rejoicing and gladness; let the bones you crushed revive.
51:220.127.116.11.2 Here he talks about his confidence of obtaining joy after being forgiven. He talks (1) first about his joy for being forgiven, (2) secondly about the glory that will be given (1) first to the mind: "and gladness", (2) then to the body: "and the bones shall rejoice". The idea is: Having been cleansed and made white, I will hear. This is the right order, because (Wisdom 1:4) Wisdom will not enter a soul that is plotting evil, but it will enter a clean vase. Therefore my hearing is bent to hear humbly -Ps 44:11 Listen daughter and see, turn your ear, not like those mentioned in Jeremiah 6:17 Listen to the sound of the trumpeter, the preacher and the prelate. And they would not listen. You will give joy for having the sin forgiven, as Nathan said (2 Sam 12:13), The Lord has forgiven you your sin, and joy for future happiness, with regard to the stole of the soul -Is 61:3 To give them a crown in place of ashes, the oil of gladness in place of mourning. And finally the bones that were crushes shall rejoice as they are glorified in the general resurrection -Is 58:11 He will fill your soul with splendors (Vul) and will free your bones -Ps 90:15 Make our happiness equal the days you afflicted us. This can be understood also as the spiritual bones, the powers of the soul which hide within and sustain the body -Prov 18:14 The spirit of a man sustains his sickness (Vul). These bones, which were first disturbed by contrition, are later gladdened by interiorly hearing of forgiveness -Prov 12:25 Worry makes a heart heavy, a kindly word makes it glad.
Note that there are three things that give the ear certain testimony of forgiveness of sin, and thus joy: (1) infused security in the conscience -2 Cor 1:12 Our boast is the testimony of our conscience of the forgiveness of sins. This testimony gives no small joy -Prov 15:15 A secure mind is like a perpetual feast (Vul). (2) An ease at deserting past sins in abundance -2 Sam 3:13 You will not be admitted to my presence unless you bring me Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see me. Michal is interpreted "all water", with the idea: If you bring me water from everything, that is, from all your sins, you will certainly see me. (3) The third testimony is a fervent will to die for Christ rather than to commit a sin. On these three together: 1 John 5:7-8 There are three that bear witness: the spirit, the water and the blood. -Deut 19:15 Any case will be decided by the word of two or three.
11. Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Turn your face from my sins, and delete all my crimes.
51:1.2.2 Here he prays against the memory of the sin, (1) first that God may not see it, (2) secondly that he may not remember it: "and all my inquities". The idea is: I was humbled. Therefore turn your face not from me but from my sins -Cassiodorus: He is asking for a kind judge who will not look at his sins, which to himself also seem horrible.
Or: I recognize my sins, and because I am aware of them, turn your face away from my sins. -Augustine: If man is aware, God will be unaware. Be aware, not only that his mind may not know them, but that his memory may not retain them. And that is to blot out all my crimes. This is the necessary consequence of repentance -Acts 3:19 Repent, therefore, and convert, that your sins may be wiped out. Therefore, wipe out my iniquities from every place where they are written: (1) first from your very divine mind -Ps 139:16 In your book they are all written. -Is 65:6 Look, it is inscribed before me: I shall not be silent until I have repaid them, repaid them in full. (2) from the angelic mind -Is 30:8 Now go, inscribe this on a tablet, that is, the very solid angelic mind, so that it may serve for time to come for ever and ever. (3) from one's own mind -Dan 7:10 The court was in session, and the books lay open. -Rev 20:12 The dead were judged by what was written in the books according to their deeds. (4) from the mind of the devils -Rev 12:10 The accuser of our brothers was thrown out, who accused them day and night before our God.
12. Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels.
Create a clean heart in me, God, put a new and loyal spirit in me.
51:1.3 Here he prays against the efficacy of sin, (1) first because it makes one dirty, (2) secondly because it makes one fall: "a right spirit". These two are effects left over from sin, even after it has been forgiven and wiped out. For dirty feelings arise, dirty urges to do evil. The idea is: I asked you to remove evil; now I ask you to give me good things contrary to the evil that sin left in me. So create a clean heart in me, so that I can see you -Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. He says create, which is to make something out of nothing, since the heart of a sinner is reduced to nothing -Jer 5:21 Hear this, stupid people, without a heart. -Ps 73:22 I am reduced to nothing, and did not know (Vul). -Ps 15:4 The despicable is reduced to nothing in his eyes (Vul). Or: create, for perfect cleanness; for when a man sins he loses his virtues and they are almost annihilated. When he rises, they are recreated -1 Mac 1:39 Her honor was turned to nothingness.
Renew the spirit that has aged because of sin, with that renovation spoken of in Eph 4:23 Be renewed in the spirit of your intelligence. -Ez 11:19 I will give them a single spirit, and give a new spirit in you. Renew the spirit, making it right, that is, conformed to you who are most right. -Augustine: A spirit is right when God is good to him in everything. -Ps 73:1 How good God is to Israel, to those who are pure of heart. Just as he asked for a clean heart so as to see, so now he asks for a right spirit, so as to love -Cant 1:3 The righteous love you (Vul). Do not only renew the heart, but also renew the inside of the heart: its emotions and the roots of taking pleasure in evil -Mat 15:19 From the heart come evil thoughts, of murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, blaspheming. So this renovation must take place within my bowels.
Note that he asks to be renewed after being cleansed. Renewal of vases is done by putting them in the furnace again, the very hot furnace spoken of by Isaiah 30:14 His fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem. In this way, Paul was put in the furnace and cleansed when he was taken to the third heaven (2 Cor 12). If you say, "My heart is heavy; humans cannot go up there," I will show you another extremely hot furnace, sacred doctrine -Jer 23:29 Are not my words like fire? -Jer 20:9 It became in my heart like a burning fire. -Ps 119:140 Your word is tested in fire. You will necessarily melt in this fire -Cant 5:6 My soul melted when my beloved spoke (Vul). If you don't want this furnace, I will show you a third. That is love, which fire and is the greatest furnace -Luke 12:49 I came to cast fire on earth, and what do I desire but that it be lit.
13. Cast me not away from thy face; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Do not banish me from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy Spirit.
51:18.104.22.168.1 Here he prays agains the penalty due for sin, and he (1) first prays, (2) then tries to persuade: "I will teach sinners". He prays against three things: (1) the removal of grace, (2) the loss of spiritual joy: "Restore to me", (3) the inclination to fall back: "with a perfect spirit". The first concerns (1) grace enlightening the mind, and (2) grace enflaming the will: "and your Holy Spirit". The idea is: I requested you not to turn your face away and not to cast me, but my sins, from your sight, for with you there is light for me to see the way -Ps 89:16 who walk in the light of your face. But what is this? Above he asked God to turn away his face, and here that he not be taken away from it. This seems contradictory -Augustine: The face he feared is now the face he invokes. Reply: He was afraid to be seen by that face, but he desires to see it, and that can only take place by the destruction of sin -Is 59:2 Your sins were a division between you and your God, and your crimes blocked his face from hearing you. So first he said, "Wipe out all my crimes", and then Do not cast me away from your face.
51:22.214.171.124.2 And your Holy Spirit, the giver of gifts -1 Cor 12:11 One and the same Spirit gives each what he wishes- do not take away from me. Notice that in the previous verse he asked for the conferral of good things; in this verse he asks for their conservation. So, having the Holy Spirit, he asks that he not be taken away, so that he can have a consoler in his sorrows; that is why he is called the Paraclete (John 14:26). He also asks to have him as a pledge that he will not be disinherited. He was disinherited when he sinned -Eph 1:14 the pledge of your inheritance. He also desires him as strength against the devil's attacks, for he is the Spirit of fortitude.
14. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation,
Give me again your saving joy,
51:126.96.36.199 The idea is: I asked you not to take away your Spirit; rather, through him, restore my joy. -Cassiodorus: He said "restore" because he felt he lacked some grace. Do not give me the world's joy -Prov 2:14 They are glad when they do evil- but that of your salvation. The Hebrew reads "of your Jesus"; before sinning, I greatly delighted in contemplating his divinity and foreseeing his humanity. From this we should learn that when the Lord receives a sinner to repentance, he does not right away bring him back to his original consoling grace -2 Sam 14:24 Absalom went home and did not see the king's face.
and strengthen me with a perfect spirit.
and by your generous spirit sustain me,
51:188.8.131.52 The idea is: Not only restore my joy, but also a perfect spirit, that will keep and confirm me in good, one that rules over human spirits -Ps 76:13 who takes away the spirit of princes (Vul)- and over angels -Ps 104:4 who makes his angels spirits. With that spirit confirm me, that I may not fall into sin again, but persevere in good. The idea is: The same goodness with which you liberated me, by that confirm me -Ps 68:29 Strengthen, God, what you have built for us.
Note that the Trinity is quite explicitly expressed: a right spirit indicates the Son -Ps 92:16 Yahweh, our Rock, is right- since the Son is truth. The Holy Spirit is menioned by name: Do not take your Holy Spirt away from me. And the Father is the principal (perfect) spirit, since he is the principle of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
He very well needs a strong and principal spirit, to fight against three kinds of spirit: (1) the spirit of the flesh -Num 16:22 God of the spirits of all flesh. (2) the spirit of the world -1 Cor 2:12 We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that comes from God. (3) the spirit of the devil -1 Sam 19:9 An evil spirit from Yahweh came over Saul. Of these three spirits, the spirit of flesh addresses the soft, the spirit of the world the vain, and the spirit of the malice the bitter.
15. I will teach the unjust thy ways: and the wicked shall be converted to thee.
that I may teach rebels your ways, and sinners to return to you
51:1.4.2 Having prayed, he now tries to persuade, (1) first by his very action, (2) from the benefit that often comesfrom that act: "and the wicked shall be converted". The idea is: Confirm me with a principal spirit, and I will not be ungrateful, rather I will teach the rebels your ways. I will teach by word, behavior and example -1 Tim 4:12 Be an example to the believers in word, behavior etc.
Notice that he wishes to hear before teaching. Therefore he first said, "to my hearing". Now he says I will teach -Sir 18:19 Before speaking, learn. But we should ask how can he say he will teach others and preach if he is an adulterer, traitor and murderer? And he himself spoke the mind of God in Psalm 50:16 God said to the sinner, "How can you recite my commandments?" Response: The preaching of a sinner who remains in his sin is not pleasing to God. That is what the Psalm forbids. But the preaching of a repentant person is very pleasing. Thus it was said in Psalm 19:14-15 I will be cleansed from a great sin, and the words of my mouth will be pleasing. This is the preaching of Peter who denied him thrice, and of Paul who persecuted him. The Lord allows this for four reasons: (1) So that no one will despair if they see David the adulterer, Peter the unfaithful and Paul the persecuter not only reconciled, but also made dispensors of the word of God -Rom 2:4 Do you not know that God's kindness leads to repentance?
(2) That there may be greater harmony in the Church of God. For if someone who is innocent were to become a preacher, and a sinner were in no way to be exalted, he would be condemned by the innocent, and the penitent would again look for an occasion tp plot against the innocent. But to one is given the grace of innocence, to the other the grace of preaching -1 Cor 12:23 It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified that we surround with the greatest dignity; and our less presentable parts are given greater presentability, that there be no schism in the body.
(3) To avoid pride. For if I were to take as highest in virtue, that is, innocence, who is highest in dignity and office, that is, having the grace of preaching, such a person would be proud and would hardly get over his elation -Sir 40:26 Possessions and power exalt the heart. -1 Cor 8:1 Knowledge puffs up. But now the ignorant innocent person thinks himself lower than the preacher who was a sinner, and the preacher who was a sinner thinks himself lower than the innocent -Phil 2:3 In humility each should consider the others superior to himself, not looking out for self-interest, but for the interest of others.
(4) To confound the devil. For expert fighters should be chosen against the enemy rather than the inexperienced -Sir 34:10 Someone who is not experienced recognizes little. But the innocent are not much experienced in battling the devil, but the sinners are more so -2 Cor 2:11 that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. -Esther 6:13 If he is Jewish, you will never get the better of him. With him against you, your fall is certain.
And the wicked shall be converted to you. This is the great fruit which causes joy in heaven -Luke 15:7 There will be joy in heaven over one sinner repenting.
16. Deliver me from blood, O God, thou God of my salvation:
Deliver me from the tears of death, God, my God;
51:2.1 Here the penitent yearns for deliverance from present misery: (1) First he prays; (2) then he tries to persuade: "and my tongue shall extol". He is concerned about two things: (1) the present, where he yearns for grace, (2) and the future, where he yearns for glory. The idea is: I said I will teach the wicked. That I may do so, deliver me from bloods, that is from carnal sinners, or domination of the flesh or blood, for this is necessary for the preacher -1 Cor 9:27 I discipline and subject my body. He uses "bloods" in the plural more appropriately than in Latin, because the sins of the flesh are many -Gal 5:19 The works of the flesh are evident: fornication, uncleanliness, unchastiy.
Or: deliver me from bloods, that is, from the corruption of sin and penalty, which are sown in the mixed blood of male and female, as if to say: By your most pure Seed deliver me from these bloods -John 8:36 If the Son sets you free, you are truly free. God, my God -"God" is said twice, corresponding to "blood" in the plural- the author of my salvation -Ps 88:2 Yahweh, my God, my Savior, day and night I cry to you.
and my tongue shall extol thy justice.
then, my Savior, will my tongue sing loudly of your goodness.
51:2.2.1 Here he tries to persuade, and there are two points: He promises to venerate the Lord (1) in the future, (2) in the present: "Lord, open my lips". The idea is: Deliver me, and then my tongue will extol, over bloody works, your justice, not mine -2 Cor 4:5 We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ. [last 8 lines of page are illegible]
17. O Lord, thou wilt open my lips: and my mouth shall declare thy praise.
Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare your praise.
51:184.108.40.206 Here he promises veneration in the future, (1) first by speech, (2) secondly by work: "For if you wanted", (3) thirdly by the heart: "A sacrifice to God is a heart". In the first there are two items. Since he promised to praise God by his speech, and he cannot do that without divine help, he promises (1) first confidence in divine help, (2) his praise: "and my mouth". The idea is: I said "My tongue will extol your justice," and I do not hesitate because, O Lord, you will open my lips, which were previously closed because of sin -Ps 107:42 Let every evil man shut his mouth. -Cassiodorus: For those settled in sin, their lips are damned -Ps 50:16 God said to the sinner, "How can you recite my commandments?" But when I open my eyes to tears, you open my lips and unlock my tongue -Is 35:6 The tongue of the dumb will sing for joy. Why? Because waters have burst out in the desert -Luke 11:14 After he expelled the demon, the dumb man spoke. And thus my open mouth will declare your praise -Ps 71:15 My mouth will declare your justice.
But what is this? David was a strong-handed man who killed a lion and a bear, as he said (1 Sam 17:36). Could he not open his mouth without help? Also, what is more wonderful is that he spoke the preceding Psalms and this very verse Lord, open my lips without his lips closed. How can he then pray to have them opened? Reply: He says this for three reasons: (1) So that we can gather here material for being humble. For God not only gives wisdom of heart, but he also gives the opening of lips -Wis 10:21 Wisdom opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of infants eloquent. They lied who said (Ps 12:5), By our tongue we prevail. (2) So that we may learn the incentive of love, for God cooperates in our every action, and frequent association in the same work stirs up much love, even on the level of brutes -Isidore: In a pair of oxen there is excellent piety. Each one looks after the other as they pull the plow, and they show their elementary affection by frequent mooing. But the Lord says (Jn 15:5), Without me you can do nothing. -Sir 51:8 I remembered your mercy, Lord, and your deeds. (3) So that we may understand the form of religion, namely that our lips are closed, and are opened only by God's permission. But he holds the key for the gates of the tongue -Sir 22:27 Who will set a guard over my mouth, and upon my lips an effective seal, that I may not fail through them, that my tongue may not destroy me? -Rev 3:7 He holds the key of David. He opens and no one closes. He closes and no one opens.
18. For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted.
Should you delight in a sacrifice I would offer it; the same should you desire a holocaust.
51:220.127.116.11 Here is the veneration of work, with two points: (1) that he is prepared to give sacrifice, (2) that it is not acceptable to God: "with burnt offerings". The idea is: My mouth will announce your praise, but my hand will not sacrifice a sheep, which was the expiation at that time -Heb 9:13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ash of heifers, sprinked on the defiled may restore their bodily purity. I would have given it, since for him, as a king, to offer a sheep was no big thing. The same should you desire a holocaust, which is totally burnt for you and is thought to be most pleasing to you -Is 1:11 I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats, that is, religiously who immoderately afflict themselves. For a holocaust is an evil when it is a total destruction, that is when not only sin an penalty are destroyed, but also the nature of the thing. Such a holocaust displeases God -Job 30:19-21 I am no more than dust and ashes, by indescretely punishing myself. I cry to you, and you give no answer; I stand before you, but you take no notice. You have grown cruel to me.
19. A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. The finest sacrifice is a contrite spirit; a crushed and contrite heart God, do not reject.
51:18.104.22.168 Here he promises the veneration of his heart, and promises (1) first the sorrow of contrition against sinful delight, (2) secondly an act of humiliation against his wrong choice: "a contrite and humbled heart". The idea is: You do not want what I am prepared to give, but I will give you what you desire, that is, a contrite and humble heart, because the finest sacrifice is a contrite spirit, that is, one that is troubled along with the body -Rom 12:1 I exhort you, brothers, through the mercy of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, pleasing to God, you reasonable worship. Note that as joy contracts sin, so sadness destroys it -Qoheleth 7:3 It is better to enter a house of mourning than to enter a house of festivity.
A contrite and humbled heart, which is far from the sin of elation, you will not despise, but you will receive. For you are far from the proud, as their pride requires -Sir 15:8 She is far from pride (Vul), and so near to the humble. -Augustine: You know how God is extended. If you make yourself high, he will go far from you. If you humble yourself, he will come near to you.
And here can be note three things which make a man acceptable and near to God: (1) tribulation in satisfaction, (2) contrition in interior sorrow, (3) humiliation in oral confession.
20. Deal favourably, O Lord, in thy good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.
In your goodness beautify Zion; Rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
51:3.1 In this part the penitent yearns for the homeland. There are two points: (1) He introduces with a prayer, (2) He expresses his veneration or the acceptance of his veneration: "Then you will accept". The prayer is (1) first for the Church militant, which is like the stones being prepared, (2) secondly for the Church triumphant, which is like stones already prepared to be used in the building: "that the walls may be built". The idea is: Lord, I asked for myself and for all your elect, with whom I desire to be. So deal kindly, Lord, by sending your Son and forgiving sin -John 1:29 See the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He says "kindly". What is more kind than a lamb? See what takes away the sins of the world! Zion, that is, the Church militant. Zion, as is often said, means a mirror, a place from which one can see far. And the Church sees far -Is 33:17 His eyes see the land from afar. And this is not because of our merits, but by your good will -Dan 9:18 Relying not on our just deeds, but on your great mercy, we pour out our plea to you. And so there will be built up in us through faith, hope and charity, not in us just as we are, the walls of Jerusalem, the future heavenly one. Those walls are immortality and total invulnerability -1 Cor 15:52 The dead will rise incorruptible, and we will all be changed for the better, for this corruptible body must put on incorruption. These are the walls of Isaiah 56:5 I shall give them in my house and within my walls an everlasting name.
21. Then shalt thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon thy altar.
Then you will accept proper sacrifices, offerings wholly burnt; then young bulls will mount your altar.
51:3.2 Here he promises sacrifice and veneration, (1) first by mouth, (2) secondly by deed: "oblations and holocausts". Three interpretations are given in the Gloss, because the sacrifice of justice could mean (1) future praise, or (2) present virtue, or (3) Christ's passion.
(1) The first of these interpretations is as follows: When the holy and immortal walls are built and made incorruptible, then you will accept the sacrifice of justice, that is, of praise due to you -Ps 84:5 Blessed are those who dwell in your house. The sacrifice of repentance, which loosens sins, is not sung, but then will be sung the sacrifice of justice which gives to each what he merited. Then will be perfectly fulfilled Psalm 50:23 He who offers a sacrifice of praise will be feasted by me.
Oblations and holocausts. This is the veneration by deed done by angels, whose ministry is not to offer material animals, but men. So you will accept the praises and oblations of your lesser creatures offered to you by angels, as well as holocausts, your greater saints, totally aflame with divine fire in that heavenly oven, the empyrean heaven. And then those angels will place on your altar calves, that is, those in between. He calls the empyrean heaven an altar, for an altar is a "high altar (alta ara)", and that heaven is high -Sir 1:3 The height of the heaven who has measured? An altar (ara) is derived from "burning" (ardendo), and there is continual heat in the empyrean heaven, as its name indicates = "in" and = "fire" -Is 31:9 His fire is in Zion, and his oven in Jerusalem.
Or: (2) There will be built the walls of Jerusalem, that is of the Church militant. And then you will accept the sacrifice of justice, that is, justice will be a sacrifice for you, not sheep, as with the Synagogue -Mal 3:4 The sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to Yahweh. And they will please you by justice. And then you will accept oblations, the minor saints, and holocausts, the major and perfect ones. And then the priests will place on your altar calves, that is men freed from the yoke of sin -Rom 6:18 Freed from sin, you are made slaves of justice. Your altar is faith, which is high, being about heavenly things, and is an altar (ara), enflamed with the fire of charity. The calves are also the preachers who must fill the world with their mooing. -Cassiodorus: Luke the Evangelist used the figure of calves to make the image of these preachers. These they will place on your altar, that is, the Church. For such should be preferred, but they are not. Rather there are mute dogs who do not know how to bark -Is 56:10 They are all mute dogs, unable to bark. Or: the calves are martyrs, who will place on your altar calves, that is, offering themselves -2 Cor 8:5 They gave themselves first to the Lord.
Or: (3) then, that is, in the time of grace, you will accept the sacrifice of justice, that is, the offering of Christ, the immaculate lamb. The martyrs imitate this by offering themselves for Christ.