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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Chapter 51
Chapter 51

Though David penned this psalm upon a very particular occasion, yet, it is of as general use as any of David’s psalms; it is the most eminent of the penitential psalms, and most expressive of the cares and desires of a repenting sinner. It is a pity indeed that in our devout addresses to God we should have any thing else to do than to praise God, for that is the work of heaven; but we make other work for ourselves by our own sins and follies: we must come to the throne of grace in the posture of penitents, to confess our sins and sue for the grace of God; and, if therein we would take with us words, we can nowhere find any more apposite than in this psalm, which is the record of David’s repentance for his sin in the matter of Uriah, which was the greatest blemish upon his character: all the rest of his faults were nothing to this; it is said of him (1 Kgs. 15:5), That “he turned not aside from the commandment of the Lord all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” In this psalm, I. He confesses his sin, Ps. 51:3-6. II. He prays earnestly for the pardon of his sin, Ps. 51:1, 2, 7, 9. III. For peace of conscience, Ps. 51:8, 12. IV. For grace to go and sin no more, Ps. 51:10, 11, 14. V. For liberty of access to God, Ps. 51:15. IV. He promises to do what he could for the good of the souls of others (Ps. 51:13) and for the glory of God, Ps. 51:16, 17, 19. And, lastly, concludes with a prayer for Zion and Jerusalem, Ps. 51:18. Those whose consciences charge them with any gross sin should, with a believing regard to Jesus Christ, the Mediator, again and again pray over this psalm; nay, though we have not been guilty of adultery and murder, or any the like enormous crime, yet in singing it, and praying over it, we may very sensibly apply it all to ourselves, which if we do with suitable affections we shall, through Christ, find mercy to pardon and grace for seasonable help.