Wipe away 10 all my guilt!
Renew a resolute spirit within me! 12
51:12 Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance!
Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey! 16
and sinners will turn 19 to you.
Then my tongue will shout for joy because of your deliverance. 21
Then my mouth will praise you. 23
you do not desire a burnt sacrifice. 26
1 tn The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.
2 tn Heb “cleanse me with hyssop.” “Hyssop” was a small plant (see 1 Kgs 4:33) used to apply water (or blood) in purification rites (see Exod 12:22; Lev 14:4-6, 49-52; Num 19:6-18. The psalmist uses the language and imagery of such rites to describe spiritual cleansing through forgiveness.
3 tn After the preceding imperfect, the imperfect with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates result.
4 tn The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.
6 tn Heb “cause me to hear happiness and joy.” The language is metonymic: the effect of forgiveness (joy) has been substituted for its cause. The psalmist probably alludes here to an assuring word from God announcing that his sins are forgiven (a so-called oracle of forgiveness). The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request. The synonyms “happiness” and “joy” are joined together as a hendiadys to emphasize the degree of joy he anticipates.
7 sn May the bones you crushed rejoice. The psalmist compares his sinful condition to that of a person who has been physically battered and crushed. Within this metaphorical framework, his “bones” are the seat of his emotional strength.
8 tn In this context of petitionary prayer, the prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive, expressing the psalmist’s wish or request.
9 sn In this context Hide your face from my sins means “Do not hold me accountable for my sins.”
11 sn The heart is viewed here as the seat of the psalmist’s motives and moral character.
12 tn Heb “and a reliable spirit renew in my inner being.”
13 tn Heb “do not cast me away from before you.”
15 sn Do not take…away. The psalmist expresses his fear that, due to his sin, God will take away the Holy Spirit from him. NT believers enjoy the permanent gift of the Holy Spirit and need not make such a request nor fear such a consequence. However, in the OT God’s Spirit empowered certain individuals for special tasks and only temporarily resided in them. For example, when God rejected Saul as king and chose David to replace him, the divine Spirit left Saul and came upon David (1 Sam 16:13-14).
16 tn Heb “and [with] a willing spirit sustain me.” The psalmist asks that God make him the kind of person who willingly obeys the divine commandments. The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.
17 tn The cohortative expresses the psalmist’s resolve. This may be a vow or promise. If forgiven, the psalmist will “repay” the Lord by declaring God’s mercy and motivating other sinners to repent.
18 tn Heb “your ways.” The word “merciful” is added for clarification. God’s “ways” are sometimes his commands, but in this context, where the teaching of God’s ways motivates repentance (see the next line), it is more likely that God’s merciful and compassionate way of dealing with sinners is in view. Thanksgiving songs praising God for his deliverance typically focus on these divine attributes (see Pss 34, 41, 116, 138).
19 tn Or “return,” i.e., in repentance.
20 tn Heb “from bloodshed.” “Bloodshed” here stands by metonymy for the guilt which it produces.
21 tn Heb “my tongue will shout for joy your deliverance.” Another option is to take the prefixed verbal form as a jussive, “may my tongue shout for joy.” However, the pattern in vv. 12-15 appears to be prayer/request (see vv. 12, 14a, 15a) followed by promise/vow (see vv. 13, 14b, 15b).
22 tn Heb “open my lips.” The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.
23 tn Heb “and my mouth will declare your praise.”
24 tn Or “For.” The translation assumes the particle is asseverative (i.e., emphasizing: “certainly”). (Some translations that consider the particle asseverative leave it untranslated.) If taken as causal or explanatory (“for”, cf. NRSV), the verse would explain why the psalmist is pleading for forgiveness, rather than merely offering a sacrifice.
25 tn The translation assumes that the cohortative is used in a hypothetical manner in a formally unmarked conditional sentence, “You do not want a sacrifice, should I offer [it]” (cf. NEB). For other examples of cohortatives in the protasis (“if” clause) of a conditional sentence, see GKC 320 §108.e. (It should be noted, however, that GKC understands this particular verse in a different manner. See GKC 320 §108.f, where it is suggested that the cohortative is part of an apodosis with the protasis being suppressed.)
26 sn You do not desire a burnt sacrifice. The terminology used in v. 16 does not refer to expiatory sacrifices, but to dedication and communion offerings. This is not a categorical denial of the sacrificial system in general or of the importance of such offerings. The psalmist is talking about his specific situation. Dedication and communion offerings have their proper place in worship (see v. 19), but God requires something more fundamental, a repentant and humble attitude (see v. 17), before these offerings can have real meaning.
27 tn Heb “a broken spirit.”
28 tn Heb “a broken and crushed heart.”
29 tn Or “despise.”