Title. A Psalm of David. David is pictured in this Psalm as in a faithful miniature. His holy trust, his many conflicts, his great transgression, his bitter repentance, and his deep distresses are all here; so that we see the very heart of “the man after God’s own heart.” It is evidently a composition of David’s later days, for he mentions the sins of his youth, and from its painful references to the craft and cruelty of his many foes, it will not be too speculative a theory to refer it to the period when Absalom was heading the great rebellion against him. This has been styled the second of the seven Penitential Psalms. It is the mark of a true saint that his sorrows remind him of his sins, and his sorrow for sin drives him to his God.
Subject And Division. The twenty-two verses of this Psalm begin in the original with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in their proper order. It is the first instance we have of an inspired acrostic or alphabetical song. This method may have been adopted by the writer to assist the memory; and the Holy Spirit may have employed it to show us that the graces of style and the arts of poetry may lawfully be used in his service. Why should not all the wit and ingenuity of man be sanctified to noblest ends by being laid upon the altar of God? From the singularity of the structure of the Psalm, it is not easy to discover any marked divisions; there are great changes of thought, but there is no variation of subject; the moods of the writer’s mind are twofold—prayer and meditation; and as these appear in turns, we should thus divide the verses. Prayer from Psalms 25:1-7; meditation, Psalms 25:8-10; prayer, Psalms 25:11; meditation, Psalms 25:12-15; prayer, Psalms 25:16-22.
The Treasury of David.
Remember not the sins of my youth. Sin is the stumbling block. This is the thing to be removed. Lord, pass an act of oblivion for all my sins, and especially for the hot blooded wanton follies of my younger years. Those offences which we remember with repentance God forgets, but if we forget them, justice will bring them forth to punishment. The world winks at the sins of younger men, and yet they are none so little after all; the bones of our youthful feastings at Satan’s table will stick painfully in our throats when we are old men. He who presumes upon his youth is poisoning his old age. How large a tear may wet this page as some of us reflect upon the past! Nor my transgressions. Another word for the same evils. Sincere penitents cannot get through their confessions at a gallop; they are constrained to use many bemoanings, for their swarming sins smite them with so innumerable griefs. A painful sense of any one sin provokes the believer to repentance for the whole mass of his iniquities. Nothing but the fullest and clearest pardon will satisfy a thoroughly awakened conscience. David would have his sins not only forgiven, but forgotten.
According to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. David and the dying thief breathe the same prayer, and doubtless they grounded it upon the same plea, viz., the free grace and unmerited goodness of Jehovah. We dare not ask to have our portion measured from the balances of justice, but we pray to be dealt with by the hand of mercy.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions. In the first place, considering that he had not begun only of late to commit sin, but that he had for a long time heaped up sin upon sin, he bows himself, if we may so speak, under the accumulated load; and, in the second place, he intimates, that if God should deal with him according to the rigour of the law, not only the sins of yesterday, or of a few days, would come into judgment against him, but all instances in which he had offended, even from his infancy, might now with justice be laid to his charge. As often, therefore, as God terrifies us by his judgments and the tokens of his wrath, let us call to our remembrance, not only the sins which we have lately committed, but also all the transgressions of our past life, proving to us the ground of renewed shame and renewed lamentation. John Calvin.
Remember not the sins of my youth. This may seem but a superfluous prayer of David; for whereas in charity it may and must be presumed that David long since had begged pardon for his youthful sins, that upon his begging God hath granted it, that upon his granting God never revoked it. What need now had David to prefer this petition for pardon of antiquated sin, time out of mind committed by him, time out of mind remitted by God? To this objection I shape a fourfold answer. First, though David no doubt long since had been truly sorrowful for his youthful sins, yet he was sensible in himself that if God would be extreme to mark what was done amiss, though he had repented of those sins, yet he had sinned in that his repentance. Secondly, though God had forgiven David’s sins so far forth as to pardon him eternal damnation, yet he had not remitted unto him temporal afflictions which perchance pressing upon him at this present, he prayeth in this Psalm for the removing or mitigating of them. So then the sense of his words sound thus, Remember not, Lord, the sins of my youth, that is, Lord, lighten and lessen the afflictions which lie upon me in this mine old age, justly inflicted on me for my youthful sins. Thirdly, God’s pardon for sins past, is ever granted with this condition, that the party so pardoned is bound to his good behaviour for the time to come, which if he breaks, he deserves in the strictness of justice for forfeit the benefit of his pardon. Now David was guilty afterward in that grand transgression of Bathsheba and Uriah, which might in the extremity of justice have made all his youthful sins to be punished afresh upon him. Lastly, grant David certainly assured of the pardon of his youthful sins, yet God’s servants may pray for those blessings they have in possession, not for the obtaining of that they have—that is needless—but for the keeping of what they have obtained, that is necessary. Yea, God is well pleased with such prayers of his saints, and interprets them to be praises unto him, and then these words, Remember not the sins of my youth, amount to this effect: blessed be thy gracious goodness, who hast forgiven me the sins of my youth. Thomas Fuller.
Remember not the sins of my youth. David, after he was called by the power of the word, cries out, “Lord, remember not,” etc., that gravelled and galled his conscience, the sins of his youth before his call. O beloved, the sins of your youth, though you should be Jobs converted, yet they will bring great disquietness and great horror when you come to age. The lusts of youth, and the vanities of youth, and the sensual pleasures of your youthful days, they will lay a foundation of sorrow when you come to gray hairs to be near your graves. So Job 20:11. Christopher Love, 1654.
Remember not the sins of my youth; let them not move thee to punish or be avenged on me for them; as men, when they remember injuries, seek to be avenged on those who have done them. William Greenhill.
Remember not the sins of my youth. It is not safe to be at odds with the “Ancient of days.” John Trapp.
The sins of my youth. Before we come to the principal point we must first clear the text from the incumbrance of a double objection. The first is this:—It may seem (some may say) very improbable that David should have any sins of his youth, if we consider the principals whereupon his youth was past. The first was poverty. We read that his father Jesse passed for an old man, we read not that he passed for a rich man; and probably his seven sons were the principal part of his wealth. Secondly, painfulness. David, though the youngest, was not made a darling, but a drudge; sent by his father to follow the ewes big with young; where he may seem to have learned innocence and simplicity from the sheep he kept. Thirdly, piety Psalms 71:5, “For thou art my hope, O Lord God; thou art my trust from my youth.” And again in the seventeenth verse of the same Psalm, “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth:” David began to be good betimes, a young saint, and yet crossed that pestilent proverb, was no old devil. And what is more still, he was constantly in the furnace of affliction. Psalms 88:15. “Even from my youth up, thy terrors have I suffered with a troubled mind.” The question then will be this, How could that water be corrupted which was daily clarified? How could that steel gather rust which was duly filed? How could David’s soul in his youth be sooty with sin, which was constantly scoured with suffering? But the answer is easy; for though David for the main were a man after God’s own heart (the best transcript of the best copy), yet he, especially in his youth, had his faults and infirmities, yea, his sins and transgressions. Though the Scripture maketh mention of no eminent sin in his youth, the business with Bathsheba being justly to be referred to David’s reduced and elder age. I will not conclude that David was of a wanton constitution because of a ruddy complexion. It is as injurious an inference to conclude all bad which are beautiful, as it is a false and flattering consequence to say all are honest who are deformed. Rather we may collect David’s youth guilty of wantonness from his having so many wives and concubines. But what go I about to do? Expect not that I should tell you the particular sins, when he could not tell his own. Psalm 19. “Who can tell how oft he offends?” Or, how can David’s sins be known to me, which he confesseth were unknown to himself, which made him say, “O Lord, cleanse me from secret sins”? But to silence our curiosity, that our conscience may speak:—If David’s youth, which was poor, painful, and pious, was guilty of sins, what shall we say, of such whose education hath been wealthy, wanton, and wicked? And I report the rest to be acted with shame, sorrow, and silence in every man’s conscience. Thomas Fuller.
The sins of my youth. Two aged disciples, one eighty-seven years old, one day met. “Well, “enquired the younger, of his fellow pilgrim, “how long have you been interested in religion?” “Fifty years, “was the old man’s reply. “Well, have you ever regretted that you began when young to devote yourself to religion?” “Oh no!” said he, and the tears trickled down his furrowed cheeks; “I weep when I think of the sins of my youth; it is this which makes me weep now.” From K. Arvine’s “Cyclopaedia of Moral and Religious Anecdotes,” 1859.
According to Thy mercy, not mine; for I have forsaken those mercies thou madest mine own Jonah 2:8 Psalms 59:10, 17, in being cruel to myself by my sin, through distrust of thy promise, and upon presumption in thy mercy; yea, let it be, for Thy goodness’ sake, not mine, for in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no manner of thing that is good. Let thy goodness, then, be the motive, thy mercy the rule of all that grace, and of all those blessings you vouchsafe unto my soul. Robert Mossom.
According to thy mercy. Moses was the first that brought up this happy expression, According to thy mercy (I know not where it is used by any other man), that is, according to the infinite mercy that is in thy heart and nature. David did next use it (Psalm 25), and in the great case of his sin and adultery Psalms 51:1, “that he would be merciful to him, according to the multitude of his mercies.” And as he needed all the mercies in God, so he confessed the sin of his nature, and hath recourse to the mercies in God’s nature. But it is Psalms 25:7, I pitch on; there he doth not content himself only with this expression, According to thy mercy, but he adds another phrase, “For thy mercy’s sake, “and goodness sake. Muis observes in this coherence, “Good and upright is the Lord” Psalms 25:8, that he centres in his nature. Thou hast a merciful nature; deal with me according to that, and for the sake of that, “according to thy mercy,” “for thy goodness sake.” The mediation of that attribute was the foundation of his faith and prayer herein. When he has done, he refers himself to Moses: Psalms 25:11, For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. He refers to that name proclaimed before Moses. Exodus 34:6, 7. But you will say, how do these expressions, “for thy name’s sake,” “for thy goodness sake,” “for thy mercy’s sake, “imply the same as “for himself,” “for his own sake”? how do they involve the Godhead? Look to Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, “that is, for myself. Isaiah 48:11. “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it.” You have it twice in one verse; and that which is “for mercy’s sake” in one place, is “for mine own sake” in another, “and behold it is I, I am he, as I am God, who doth it. What is this, but Jehovah, Jehovah, God merciful”? Thomas Goodwin.
(first clause). The best Act of Oblivion. Thomas Fuller.
Oblivion desired and remembrance entreated. Note “my”, and “thy.”
The Treasury of David.
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