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Psalms 51:2

Context

51:2 Wash away my wrongdoing! 1 

Cleanse me of my sin! 2 

Psalms 51:7

Context

51:7 Sprinkle me 3  with water 4  and I will be pure; 5 

wash me 6  and I will be whiter than snow. 7 

1 tn Heb “Thoroughly wash me from my wrongdoing.”

2 sn In vv. 1b-2 the psalmist uses three different words to emphasize the multifaceted character and degree of his sin. Whatever one wants to call it (“rebellious acts,” “wrongdoing,” “sin”), he has done it and stands morally polluted in God’s sight. The same three words appear in Exod 34:7, which emphasizes that God is willing to forgive sin in all of its many dimensions. In v. 2 the psalmist compares forgiveness and restoration to physical cleansing. Perhaps he likens spiritual cleansing to the purification rites of priestly law.

3 tn The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.

4 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.

5 tn After the preceding imperfect, the imperfect with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates result.

6 tn The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist’s wish or request.

7 sn I will be whiter than snow. Whiteness here symbolizes the moral purity resulting from forgiveness (see Isa 1:18).



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