I acknowledged my sin - When this confession was made thoroughly and sincerely, and I ceased to cover and extenuate my offense, then thou didst forgive the iniquity of my sin. I felt the hardness of heart: I felt the deep distress of soul; I felt power to confess and abhor my sin; I felt confidence in the mercy of the Lord; and I felt the forgiveness of the iniquity of my sin.
Selah - This is all true; I know it; I felt it; I feel it.
I acknowledged my sin unto thee - That is, then I confessed my guilt. I had borne the dreadful pressure as long as I could. I had endeavored to conceal and suppress my conviction, but I found no relief. The anguish became deeper and deeper; my strength was failing; I was crushed under the intolerable burden, and when I could no longer bear it I went and made humble confession, and found relief. The verb used here is in the future tense, “I will acknowledge my sin;” but in order to a correct understanding of it, it should be regarded as referring to the state of mind at the time referred to in the psalm, and the resolution which the psalmist then formed. The words “I said” should be understood here. This he expresses in a subsequent part of the verse, referring doubtless to the same time. “I said,” or I formed a resolution to this effect. The idea is, that he could find no relief in any other way. He could not banish these serious and troublous thoughts from his mind; his days and nights were spent in anguish. He resolved to go to God and to confess his sin, and to see what relief could be found by such an acknowledgment of guilt.
And mine iniquity have I not hid - That is, I did not attempt then to hide it. I made a frank, a full confession. I stated it all, without any attempt to conceal it; to apologise for it; to defend it. before, he had endeavored to conceal it, and it was crushing him to the earth. He now resolved to confess it all, and he found relief.
I said - I formed the resolution.
I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord - I will no longer attempt to hide them, or to suppress the convictions of guilt. I will seek the only proper relief by making confession of my sin, and by obtaining forgiveness. This resolution was substantially the same as that of the prodigal son: “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned,” Luke 15:18.
And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin - He found that God was willing to pardon; he no sooner made confession than he obtained the evidence of pardon. “All the guilt,” or the “iniquity” of his sin, was at once forgiven; and, as a consequence, he found peace. In what way he had evidence that his sin was forgiven he does not state. It may have been in his case by direct revelation, but it is more probable that he obtained this evidence in the same way that sinners do now, by the internal peace and joy which follows such an act of penitent confession. In regard to this, we may observe:
(a) The very act of making confession tends to give relief to the mind; and, in fact, relief never can be found when confession is not made.
(b) We have the assurance that when confession is made in a proper manner, God will pardon. See the notes at 1 John 1:9.
(c) When such confession is made, peace will flow into the soul; God will show himself merciful and gracious. The peace which follows from a true confession of guilt before God, proves that God “has” heard the prayer of the penitent, and has been merciful in forgiving his offences.
Thus, without any miracle, or any direct revelation, we may obtain evidence that our sins are washed away, which will give comfort to the soul.
Thus in a sacred song to be sung in the public assemblies of his people, in the presence of the court—priests and judges, princes and men of war—and which would preserve to the latest generation the knowledge of his fall, the king of Israel recounted his sin, his repentance, and his hope of pardon through the mercy of God. Instead of endeavoring to conceal his guilt he desired that others might be instructed by the sad history of his fall. PP 725.1
David's repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to palliate his crime. No desire to escape the judgments threatened, inspired his prayer. But he saw the enormity of his transgression against God; he saw the defilement of his soul; he loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart. David did not in despair give over the struggle. In the promises of God to repentant sinners he saw the evidence of his pardon and acceptance. PP 725.2
“For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it:
Thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” PP 725.3