For this shall every one that is godly - Because thou art merciful; because thou hast shown mercy to all who have truly turned to thee, and believed in thee; every one who fears thee, and hears of this, shall pray unto thee in an acceptable time, when thou mayest be found; in the time of finding. When the heart is softened and the conscience alarmed, that is a time of finding. God is ever ready; men are not so. Who can pray with a hard heart and a dark mind? While you feel relentings, pray.
Surely in the floods - In violent trials, afflictions, and temptations; when the rains descend, the winds blow, and the floods beat against that godly man who prays and trusts in God; "they shall not come nigh him," so as to weaken his confidence or destroy his soul. His house is founded on a rock.
For this - With reference to this state of mind, or to this happy result; or, encouraged by my example and my success. The idea seems to be that others would find, and might find, encouragement from what had occurred to him. In other words, his case had furnished an illustration of the way in which sinners are pardoned, and a proof of the mercy of God, which would be instructive and encouraging to others in similar circumstances. The conversion of one sinner, or the fact that one sinner obtains pardon, becomes thus an encouragement to all others, for
(a) pardon is always to be obtained in the same manner essentially - by humble and penitent confession of sin, and by casting ourselves entirely on the offered mercy of God; and
(b) the fact that one sinner has been pardoned, is full proof that others may obtain forgiveness also, for God is unchangeably the same. All those, therefore, who “have” been pardoned and saved in the world have become examples to the rest, and have furnished full proof that all others “may” be pardoned and saved if they will come in the same manner. See the notes at 1 Timothy 1:16.
Everyone that is godly - The original word used here would properly mean those who are pious, or who are already converted. It is the common word used in the Scriptures to denote “saints,” and is usually so translated. But, as used here, it would seem rather to denote those who are “inclined” to be pious, or who are seeking how they may become pious; in other words, those who are “religiously disposed.” The encouragement is to those who feel that they are sinners; who desire some way of relief from the burden of sin; who are convinced that there is no other source of relief but God, and who are disposed to make the same trial which the psalmist did - to find peace by making confession of sin. All such persons, the psalmist says, might see in his case encouragement to come thus to God; all such would find Him willing to pardon.
In a time when thou mayest be found - Margin, as in Hebrew, “in a time of finding.” That is, they would find that to be a propitious time, or a time of mercy. It does not mean that there were appointed or set times in which God would be gracious; or that there were seasons when he was disposed to “give audience” to people, and seasons when he could not be approached; but the meaning is, that whenever they came thus - with this penitent feeling, and this language of confession - they would find that the time of mercy. The idea is not that God is anymore disposed to show mercy at one time than another, but that they would find him “always” ready to show mercy when they came in that manner: that would be the time to obtain his favor; “that the time of finding.” The real time of “mercy,” therefore, for a sinner, is the time when he is willing to come as a penitent, and to make confession of sin.
Surely in the floods of great waters - In times of calamity - as when floods of water spread over a land; or in a time of judgment - when such floods sweep everything away. The reference here is, doubtless, to the floods that will come upon the ungodly - upon a wicked world. The illustration is drawn probably from the deluge in the time of Noah. So, when God shall sweep away the wicked in his wrath - when he shall consign them to destruction in the day of judgment - the pardoned sinner will be safe.
They shall not come nigh unto him - He will be secure. He shall not be swept off with others. Safe, as a forgiven man - safe as a child and a friend of God - he shall be protected as Noah was in the great deluge that swept off a guilty world. A pardoned man has nothing to fear, though flood or fire should sweep over the world.
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