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Psalms 51:4

    Psalms 51:4 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight: that you might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, And done that which is evil in thy sight; That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, And be clear when thou judgest.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    Against you, you only, have I done wrong, working that which is evil in your eyes; so that your words may be seen to be right, and you may be clear when you are judging.

    Webster's Revision

    Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, And done that which is evil in thy sight; That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, And be clear when thou judgest.

    World English Bible

    Against you, and you only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight; that you may be proved right when you speak, and justified when you judge.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight: that thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

    Clarke's Commentary on Psalms 51:4

    Against thee, thee only, have I sinned - This verse is supposed to show the impropriety of affixing the above title to this Psalm. It could not have been composed on account of the matter with Bath-sheba and the murder of Uriah; for, surely, these sins could not be said to have been committed against God Only, if we take the words of this verse in their common acceptation. That was a public sin, grievous, and against society at large, as well as against the peace, honor, comfort, and life of an innocent, brave, and patriotic man. This is readily granted: but see below.

    That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest - Perhaps, to save the propriety of the title, we might understand the verse thus: David, being king, was not liable to be called to account by any of his subjects; nor was there any authority in the land by which he could be judged and punished. In this respect, God Alone was greater than the king; and to him Alone, as king, he was responsible. Nam quando rex deliquit, Soli Deo reus est; guia hominem non habet qui ejus facta dijudicet, says Cassiodorus. "For when a king transgresses, he is accountable to God Only; for there is no person who has authority to take cognizance of his conduct." On this very maxim, which is a maxim in all countries, David might say, Against thee only have I sinned. "I cannot be called to the bar of my subjects; but I arraign myself before thy bar. They can neither judge nor condemn me; but thou canst: and such are my crimes that thou wilt be justified in the eyes of all men, and cleared of all severity, shouldst thou inflict upon me the heaviest punishment." This view,of the subject will reconcile the Psalm to the title. As to the eighteenth and nineteenth verses, we shall consider them in their own place; and probably find that the objection taken from them has not much weight.

    Barnes' Notes on Psalms 51:4

    Against thee, thee only, have I sinned - That is, the sin, considered as an offence against God, now appeared to him so enormous and so aggravated, that, for the moment, he lost sight of it considered in any other of its bearings. It "was" a sin, as all other sins are, primarily and mainly against God; it derived its chief enormity from that fact. We are not to suppose that David did not believe and notice that he had done wrong to people, or that he had offended against human laws, and against the well-being of society. His crime against Uriah and his family was of the deepest and most aggravated character, but still the offence derived its chief heinousness from the fact that it was a violation of the law of God. The state of mind here illustrated is that which occurs in every case of true penitence. It is not merely because that which has been done is a violation of human law; it is not that it brings us to poverty or disgrace; it is not that it exposes us to punishment on earth from a parent, a teacher, or civil ruler; it is not that it exposes us to punishment in the world to come: it is that it is of itself, and apart from all other relations and consequences, "an offence against God;" a violation of his pure and holy law; a wrong done against him, and in his sight. Unless there is this feeling there can be no true penitence; and unless there is this feeling there can be no hope of pardon, for God forgives offences only as committed against himself; not as involving us in dangerous consequences, or as committed against our fellow-men.

    And done this evil in thy sight - Or, When thine eye was fixed on me. Compare the notes at Isaiah 65:3. God saw what he had done; and David knew, or might have known, that the eye of God was upon him in his wickedness. It was to him then a great aggravation of his sin that he had "dared" to commit it when he "knew" that God saw everything. The presence of a child - or even of an idiot - would restrain people from many acts of sin which they would venture to commit if alone; how much more should the fact that God is always present, and always sees all that is done, restrain us from open and from secret transgression.

    That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest - That thy character might be vindicated in all that thou hast said; in the law which thou hast revealed; in the condemnation of the sin in that law; and in the punishment which thou mayest appoint. That is, he acknowledged his guilt. He did not seek to apologise for it, or to vindicate it. God was right, and he was wrong. The sin deserved all that God in his law "had" declared it to deserve; it deserved all that God by any sentence which he might pass upon him "would" declare it to deserve. The sin was so aggravated that "any" sentence which God might pronounce would not be beyond the measure of its ill-desert.

    And be clear when thou judgest - Be regarded as right, holy, pure, in the judgment which thou mayest appoint. See this more fully explained in the notes at Romans 3:4.

    Wesley's Notes on Psalms 51:4

    51:4 Thee 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.