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Psalms 51:8-9

Context

51:8 Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven! 1 

May the bones 2  you crushed rejoice! 3 

51:9 Hide your face 4  from my sins!

Wipe away 5  all my guilt!

1 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.

2 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.

3 tn In this context of petitionary prayer, the prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive, expressing the psalmist’s wish or request.

4 sn In this context Hide your face from my sins means “Do not hold me accountable for my sins.”

5 tn See the note on the similar expression “wipe away my rebellious acts” in v. 1.



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