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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
IntraText - Text
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1 For the leader. A psalm of David,
when Nathan the prophet came to him after his
affair with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in
your abundant compassion blot out my offense.
Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my offense; my sin is always before
Against you alone have I sinned; I have done
such evil in your sight That you are just in your sentence, blameless when you
2 True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my
mother conceived me.
Still, you insist on sincerity of heart; in my
inmost being teach me wisdom.
3 Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the
bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all
A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a
Do not drive me from your presence, nor take
from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me
a willing spirit.
I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners
may return to you.
Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that
my tongue may praise your healing power.
Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your
4 For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt
offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do
not spurn a broken, humbled heart.
5 Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifice,
burnt offerings and holocausts; then bullocks will be offered on your altar.
1 [Psalm 51] A lament, the most
famous of the seven Penitential Psalms, prays for the removal of the personal
and social disorders that sin has brought. The poem has two parts of
approximately equal length: ⇒ Psalm 51:3-10 and
⇒ Psalm 51:11-19, and a conclusion in
⇒ Psalm 51:20-21. The two parts interlock by
repetition of "blot out" in the first verse of each section
(⇒ Psalm 51:3, ⇒ 11), of
"wash (away)" just after the first verse of each section
(⇒ Psalm 51:4) and just before the last verse
(⇒ Psalm 51:9) of the first section, and of
"heart," "God," and "spirit" in
⇒ Psalm 51:12, ⇒ 19.
The first part (⇒ Psalm 51:3-10) asks deliverance
from sin, which is not just a past act but its emotional, physical, and social
consequences. The second part (⇒ Psalm 51:11-19)
seeks something more profound than wiping the slate clean: nearness to God,
living by the spirit of God (⇒ Psalm 51:12-13),
like the relation between God and people described in
⇒ Jeremiah 31:33-34. Nearness to God brings joy and
the authority to teach sinners (⇒ Psalm 51:15-16).
Such proclamation is better than offering sacrifice (⇒ Psalm
51:17-19). The last two verses ask for the rebuilding of Jerusalem
(⇒ Psalm 51:19 [20-21]).
2  A sinner, even as my mother
conceived me: literally, "In iniquity was I conceived," an instance
of hyperbole: at no time was the psalmist ever without sin. Cf
⇒ Psalm 88:15, "I am mortally afflicted since
youth," i.e., I have always been afflicted. The verse does not imply that
the sexual act of conception is sinful.
3  Hyssop: a small bush whose many
woody twigs make a natural sprinkler. It was prescribed in the Mosaic law as an
instrument for sprinkling sacrificial blood or lustral water for cleansing. Cf
⇒ Exodus 12:22; ⇒ Lev
14:4; ⇒ Numbers 19:18.
4  For you do not desire
sacrifice: the mere offering of the ritual sacrifice apart from good
dispositions is not acceptable to God. Cf Psalm 50.
5 [19(20-21)] Most scholars think
that these verses were added to the psalm some time after the destruction of
the temple in 587 B.C. The verses assume that the rebuilt temple will be an
ideal site for national reconciliation.
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