1For the leader. A psalm of David,
2when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had come to Bathsheba.
3Have mercy upon me, O God,
as befits Your faithfulness;
in keeping with Your abundant compassion,
blot out my transgressions.
4Wash me thoroughly of my iniquity,
and purify me of my sin;
5for I recognize my transgressions,
and am ever conscious of my sin.
for I recognize my transgressions: Not always, as discussed in verse 8 and this from 2Samuel 12/5-7 “5David flew into a rage against the man, and said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6He shall pay for the lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and showed no pity.” 7And Nathan said to David, “That man is you!”
6Against You alone have I sinned,
and done what is evil in Your sight;
so You are just in Your sentence,
and right in Your judgment.
for You warned against the matter: The Tanakh does not reveal this warning by G-d to David in the matter of his affair with Bathsheba. It is ignoring this warning that David refers to when he says he sinned against G-d. It is a sin to violate G-d’s commandments but that does not mean it is directly a sin against G-d. The commandments are for us to make our lives better. Breaking a commandment is more a sin against yourself than a sin against G-d. Think of G-d in this respect as a legislative branch of government enacting laws. When we break them it is not against the legislature but society. But a sin it is and that affects your merit into Heaven.
7Indeed I was born with iniquity;
with sin my mother conceived me.
with sin my mother conceived me: In the days of David multiple wives and concubines were commonplace. The commandment to the Jews to not marry outside of the twelve tribes of Israel was by far the greater sin and would explain why there is no mention of the mother and grandmother of David. Under the Jewish law today the determining “Jewish” factor is the mother (and grandmother I think). We know David is of the tribe of Judah whether his mother and grandmother were Jewish or not. The Oral tradition provides a Jewish mother for David but in doing so takes away this verse and its meaning and a part of who David was and pains of his life he would have us know.
8 Indeed You desire truth about that which is hidden;
teach me wisdom about secret things.
about secret things: The things David will not share with others about himself that he is unsure of; requesting the wisdom to understand these things without opening up to others. Not unusual for a King.
9Purge me with hyssop till I am pure;
wash me till I am whiter than snow.
Purge me with hyssop: Cleanse me of the sins of my breath and mouth.
10Let me hear tidings of joy and gladness;
let the bones You have crushed exult.
let the bones You have crushed exult: The righteous servant of G-d of Isaiah 53 is crushed by G-d in his “punishment” as “guilt” as G-d prepares (refines) the servant for His purpose. This is not the only Psalm of David where I have seen verses indicating that he went through a similar process of refinement by the hand of G-d.
11Hide Your face from my sins;
blot out all my iniquities.
12Fashion a pure heart for me, O God;
create in me a steadfast spirit.
create in me a steadfast spirit: From Isaiah Chapter 11/2: “2The spirit of the Lord shall alight upon him: A spirit of wisdom and insight, A spirit of counsel and valor, A spirit of devotion and reverence for the Lord.”
13Do not cast me out of Your presence,
or take Your holy spirit away from me.
Do not cast me out of Your presence, or take Your holy spirit away from me: David has asked for a steadfast spirit and now is requesting that even so do not take the holy spirit away. The holy spirit of G-d is a person that is always in G-d’s presence and they came together to me and this verse says to David also. Together they teach me to have a steadfast spirit, one of wisdom and insight, counsel and valor, devotion and reverence for the Lord. Even when my spirit is steadfast in these things I would not want the spirit of the Holy G-d and G-d’s presence to leave me. Just like David.
14Let me again rejoice in Your help;
let a vigorous spirit sustain me.
Let me again rejoice in Your help; let a vigorous spirit sustain me: David believed that G-d and his His holy spirit had or would leave him because of his transgression with Bathsheba that he had been warned against. David had been tested and failed and now he felt alone and abandoned by G-d and G-d’s holy spirit, and was greatly worried they would leave him. He was punished: “11Thus said the Lord: ‘I will make a calamity rise against you from within your own house; I will take your wives and give them to another man before your very eyes and he shall sleep with your wives under this very sun. 12You acted in secret, but I will make this happen in the sight of all Israel and in broad daylight.’” 13David said to Nathan, “I stand guilty before the Lord!” And Nathan replied to David, “The Lord has remitted your sin; you shall not die. 14However, since you have spurned the enemies of the Lord by this deed, even the child about to be born to you shall die.” 2Samuel 12/11-14 Tanakh JPS 1985. By all subsequent accounts David’s plea for a vigorous spirit and that G-d and G-d’s spirit not leave him was granted.
15I will teach transgressors Your ways,
that sinners may return to You.
I will teach transgressors Your ways: David is negotiating with G-d.
16Save me from bloodguilt,
O God, God, my deliverer,
that I may sing forth Your beneficence.
Save me from bloodguilt, O God, God, my deliverer, that I may sing forth Your beneficence: David who has told G-d that he will teach others of his transgression now negotiates with G-d for the removal of his bloodguilt in having Uriah killed in battle with a promise of telling of G-d’s kindness.
17O Lord, open my lips,
and let my mouth declare Your praise.
declare Your praise: David will say or write good things about G-d and express his thanks, love and respect for G-d.
18You do not want me to bring sacrifices;
You do not desire burnt offerings;
David already knows what is repeated by G-d many times in the Books of the Prophets. The animal sacrificial atonement system was replaced by repentance, atonement, prayer and good deeds for G-d’s forgiveness and to be in right standing with him, to be righteous with G-d. It is why he set up a Holy day every year of repentant fasting and prayer for the Jewish people, Yom Kippur.
19True sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit;
God, You will not despise
a contrite and crushed heart.
20May it please You to make Zion prosper;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
May it please You to make Zion prosper; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem: Making Zion prosper and rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem is an end times prophecy that is ongoing today. Israel blooms again and walls protecting Jerusalem from Palestinians have been built.
21Then You will want sacrifices offered in righteousness,
burnt and whole offerings;
then bulls will be offered on Your altar.
Then You will want sacrifices offered in righteousness: An offering by the righteous. This is not an offering to be righteous. G-d is not re-establishing the animal sacrificial atonement system in the end times but there are many righteous Jews who want to and will when the Temple is rebuilt. They will be sacrifices of praise only. The Jewish philosopher Abarbanel reinforced Maimonides’ opinion on this subject citing a Midrash that indicated that the Jews had become accustomed to sacrifices in Egypt. To wean them from these idolatrous practices, God tolerated the sacrifices but commanded that they be offered in one central sanctuary: Thereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, said “Let them at all times offer their sacrifices before Me in the Tabernacle, and they will be weaned from idolatry, and thus be saved.” (Rabbi J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p. 562) Rabbi J. H. Hertz, the late chief rabbi of England, stated that if Moses had not instituted sacrifices, which were admitted by all to have been the universal expression of religious homage, his mission would have failed and Judaism would have disappeared. With the destruction of the Temple, the rabbis state that prayer and good deeds took the place of sacrifice.