Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
psa 51:4Thee only - Which is not to be, understood absolutely, because he had sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, and many others; but comparatively. So the sense is, though I have sinned against my own conscience, and against others; yet nothing is more grievous to me, than that I have sinned against thee. Thy sight - With gross contempt of thee, whom I knew to be a spectator of my most secret actions. Justified - This will be the fruit of my sin, that whatsoever severities thou shalt use towards me, it will be no blemish to thy righteousness, but thy justice will be glorified by all men. Speakest - Heb. in thy words, in all thy threatenings denounced against me. Judgest - When thou dost execute thy sentence upon me.
psa 51:5Behold - Nor is this the only sin which I have reason to bewail before thee; for this filthy stream leads me to a corrupt fountain: and upon a review of my heart, I find, that this heinous crime, was the proper fruit of my vile nature, which, ever was, and still is ready to commit ten thousand sins, as occasion offers.
psa 51:6Truth - Uprightness of heart; and this may be added; as an aggravation of the sinfulness of original corruption, because it is contrary to the holy nature and will of God, which requires rectitude of heart: and, as an aggravation of his actual sin, that it was committed against that knowledge, which God had wrote in his heart.
psa 51:7Hyssop - As lepers, are by thy appointment purified by the use of hyssop and other things, so do thou cleanse me a leprous and polluted creature, by thy grace, and by that blood of Christ, which is signified by those ceremonial usages.
psa 51:8Joy - By thy spirit, seal the pardon of my sins on my conscience, which will fill me with joy. Rejoice - That my heart which hath been sorely wounded may be comforted.
psa 51:10Create - Work in me an holy frame of heart, whereby my inward filth may be purged away. Right - Heb. firm or constant, that my resolution may be fixed and unmoveable. Spirit - Temper or disposition of soul.
psa 51:12The joy - The comfortable sense of thy saving grace, promised and vouchsafed to me, both for my present and everlasting salvation. Free - Or, ingenuous, or liberal, or princely. Which he seems to oppose to his own base and illiberal and disingenuous and servile spirit, which he had discovered in his wicked practices: a spirit, which may free me from the bondage of sin, and enable me chearfully to run the way of God's precepts.
psa 51:14Thy righteousness - Thy clemency and goodness.
psa 51:15My lips - Which are shut with shame and grief.
psa 51:16Not sacrifice - This is not to be understood absolutely, with respect to David's crimes, which were not to be expiated by any sacrifice.
psa 51:17A broken spirit - This is of more value than many sacrifices.
psa 51:18Good pleasure - Thy free and rich mercy. Build - Perfect the walls and buildings of that city, and especially let the temple be built, notwithstanding my sins.