Psalm 51:11
Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Cast me not away.—This phrase is used of the formal rejection of Israel by the God of the covenant (2Kings 13:23; 2Kings 17:20; 2Kings 24:20; Jeremiah 7:15). Its use here not only confirms the explanation of the notes above, but makes in favour of understanding the whole psalm of the community.

Take not thy holy spirit.—Commentators have discussed whether this means the spirit of office given to the king on his anointing (1Samuel 16:13), or of grace, and Calvinists and Lutherans have made the text a battle-ground of controversy. Plainly, as the parallelism shows, the petition is equivalent to a prayer against rejection from the Divine favour, and is not to be pressed into any doctrinal discussion.

Psalm 51:11-12. Cast me not away from thy presence — That is, from thy favour and care. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me — Thy sanctifying Spirit, by which alone I can have acquaintance and fellowship with thee. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation — The comfortable sense of thy saving grace, promised and vouchsafed to me, both for my present and everlasting salvation. And uphold me — A weak and frail creature, not able to stand against temptation and the corruption of my nature, without thy powerful and gracious succours; with thy free Spirit — Or ingenuous, liberal, or princely, which he seems to oppose to this own base, illiberal, disingenuous, and servile spirit, which he had discovered in his wicked and unworthy practices. And he now desires a better spirit of God, which might free him from the bondage of sin, and incline and enable him freely, cheerfully, and constantly to run the way of God’s precepts.51:7-15 Purge me with hyssop, with the blood of Christ applied to my soul by a lively faith, as the water of purification was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop. The blood of Christ is called the blood of sprinkling, Heb 12:24. If this blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, cleanse us from our sin, then we shall be clean indeed, Heb 10:2. He asks not to be comforted, till he is first cleansed; if sin, the bitter root of sorrow, be taken away, he can pray in faith, Let me have a well-grounded peace, of thy creating, so that the bones broken by convictions may rejoice, may be comforted. Hide thy face from my sins; blot out all mine iniquities out of thy book; blot them out, as a cloud is blotted out and dispelled by the beams of the sun. And the believer desires renewal to holiness as much as the joy of salvation. David now saw, more than ever, what an unclean heart he had, and sadly laments it; but he sees it is not in his own power to amend it, and therefore begs God would create in him a clean heart. When the sinner feels this change is necessary, and reads the promise of God to that purpose, he begins to ask it. He knew he had by his sin grieved the Holy Spirit, and provoked him to withdraw. This he dreads more than anything. He prays that Divine comforts may be restored to him. When we give ourselves cause to doubt our interest in salvation, how can we expect the joy of it? This had made him weak; he prays, I am ready to fall, either into sin or into despair, therefore uphold me with thy Spirit. Thy Spirit is a free Spirit, a free Agent himself, working freely. And the more cheerful we are in our duty, the more constant we shall be to it. What is this but the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free, which is contrasted with the yoke of bondage? Ga 5:1. It is the Spirit of adoption spoken to the heart. Those to whom God is the God of salvation, he will deliver from guilt; for the salvation he is the God of, is salvation from sin. We may therefore plead with him, Lord, thou art the God of my salvation, therefore deliver me from the dominion of sin. And when the lips are opened, what should they speak but the praises of God for his forgiving mercy?Cast me not away from thy presence - That is, Do not reject me, or cast me off entirely; do not abandon me; do not leave me in my sin and sorrow. The language is derived from the idea that true happiness is to be found in the "presence" of God, and that to be exiled from him is misery. Compare Psalm 16:11, note; Psalm 31:20, note. See also Psalm 140:13.

And take not thy holy Spirit from me - It is not certain that David understood by the phrase "thy Holy Spirit" precisely what is now denoted by it as referring to the third person of the Trinity. The language, as used by him, would denote some influence coming from God producing holiness, "as if" God breathed his own spirit, or his own self, into the soul. The language, however, is appropriate to be used in the higher and more definite sense in which it is now employed, as denoting that sacred Spirit - the Holy Spirit - by whom the heart is renewed, and by whom comfort is imparted to the soul. It is not necessary to suppose that the inspired writers of the Old Testament had a full and complete comprehension of the meaning of the words which they employed, or that they appreciated all that their words might properly convey, or the fullness of signification in which they might be properly used in the times of the Gospel. Compare the notes at 1 Peter 1:10-12. The language used here by David - "take not" - implies that he had been formerly in possession of that which he now sought. There was still in his heart that which might be regarded as the work of the Spirit of God; and he earnestly prayed that that might not be wholly taken away on account of his sin, or that he might not be entirely abandoned to despair.

10. Create—a work of almighty power.

in me—literally, "to me," or, "for me"; bestow as a gift, a heart free from taint of sin (Ps 24:4; 73:1).

renew—implies that he had possessed it; the essential principle of a new nature had not been lost, but its influence interrupted (Lu 22:32); for Ps 51:11 shows that he had not lost God's presence and Spirit (1Sa 16:13), though he had lost the "joy of his salvation" (Ps 51:12), for whose return he prays.

right spirit—literally, "constant," "firm," not yielding to temptation.

From thy presence, i.e. from thy favour, and care, and gracious communion with thee.

Thy Holy Spirit; thy sanctifying Spirit, by which alone I can have acquaintance and fellowship with thee. Cast me not away from thy presence,.... As abominable; as a vessel in which he had no pleasure; with indignation and wrath; as one that is angry with another, cannot bear him in his sight, but bids him be gone from him. Nothing is more desirable to a child of God than the presence of God; and nothing gives him more sensible pain than his absence; and even to be deprived of or denied the means of enjoying his presence the word and ordinances, makes them very uneasy: to be utterly, and for ever deprived of it, is the case of the damned in hell, and is the punishment of loss they sustain; and, on the other hand, the happiness of the saints in heaven is to enjoy it without interruption. The people of God are never cast away from his favour, or out of his heart's love; but they may for a while be without his gracious presence, or not see his face, nor have the light of his countenance, nor sensible communion with him, which is here deprecated. David might call to mind the case of Cain, Genesis 4:14; or rather the more recent one of Saul, whom the Lord rejected, and from whom he departed upon his sinning, and which he might fear would be his case, 1 Samuel 28:15;

and take not thy Holy Spirit from me; or "the Spirit of thine holiness"; the third Person in the Trinity; so called, not because this epithet of "holy" is peculiar to him; for it is used also of the Father, and of the Son, John 17:11; but because he is equally holy with them, and is the author of holiness in his people, which is therefore called the sanctification of the Spirit, 1 Peter 1:2; and without whom David knew that purity and holiness of heart and spirit he had desired could not be renewed and increased in him; and therefore deprecates the taking of him away; which shows that he was not as yet removed from him, not with standing he had fallen into great sins; and his sense of sin, and confession of it, and his fervent application for pardoning grace, and purity of heart, abundantly prove it. The Spirit of God is a gift of his, which is without repentance, and where he once is as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, he ever abides: his external gifts may be taken away; but internal grace is an incorruptible seed, and always continues. By sin the Spirit of God may be grieved, so as to withdraw his gracious influences, and his powerful operations may not be felt; and this is what is here deprecated. The Targum interprets this of the spirit of prophecy which David had, by which he composed psalms and songs prophetic of Christ, and of Gospel times, and which was not taken away from him; see 2 Samuel 23:1.

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. The upright “behold God’s face” (Psalm 11:7): He admits them to His presence for ever (Psalm 41:12). The spirit of Jehovah came upon David, as it departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:13-14). Did David fear that he might share the fate of Saul, banished from God’s presence and deprived of His favour, deserted by that Spirit which is the source of all right desire and action?

It is pointed out by the advocates of the national interpretation of the Psalm that the phrase of the first line is always used of the rejection of the nation and its banishment from the holy land (2 Kings 13:23; 2 Kings 17:20; 2 Kings 24:20; Jeremiah 7:15): and that the phrase ‘God’s holy spirit’ is found elsewhere in the O.T. only in Isaiah 63:10-11, where it is mentioned (along with ‘the angel of His presence’ Psalm 51:9) as the mediator of His presence in the midst of the nation of Israel. But both phrases are equally applicable to the individual.

Although the doctrine of the personality of the Holy Spirit is not taught in the O.T., passages like these, which imply that in the spirit Jehovah personally acts, prepare the way for the N.T. revelation concerning Him, and can be used in the fullest Christian sense. See Oehler’s O.T. Theol., §65.Verse 11. - Cast me not away from thy presence. To he "cast away from God's presence" is to be altogether cast out of his covenant, made an alien from him, deprived of his favour and the light of his countenance (see Genesis 4:14; 2 Kings 13:23). The psalmist deprecates so terrible a punishment, although he feels that he has deserved it. And take not thy Holy Spirit from me. God's Holy Spirit had been poured upon David when he was first anointed by Samuel to the kingly office (1 Samuel 16:13). His great sins had undoubtedly "grieved" and vexed the Spirit; and, had they been continued or not repented of, would have caused him to withdraw himself; but they had not "wholly quenched the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19). David was therefore able to pray, as he does, that the Holy Spirit of God might still be vouchsafed to him, and not be "taken away," as from one wholly unworthy. David here confesses his hereditary sin as the root of his actual sin. The declaration moves backwards from his birth to conception, it consequently penetrates even to the most remote point of life's beginning. חוללתּי stands instead of נולדתּי, perhaps (although elsewhere, i.e., in Psalm 90:2, the idea of painfulness is kept entirely in the background) with reference to the decree, "with pain shalt thou bring forth children," Genesis 3:16 (Kurtz); instead of הרתה אתי, with still more definite reference to that which precedes conception, the expression is יחמתני (for יחמתני, following the same interchange of vowel as in Genesis 30:39; Judges 5:28). The choice of the verb decides the question whether by עון and חטא is meant the guilt and sin of the child or of the parents. יחם (to burn with desire) has reference to that, in coition, which partakes of the animal, and may well awaken modest sensibilities in man, without עיון and חטא on that account characterizing birth and conception itself as sin; the meaning is merely, that his parents were sinful human begins, and that this sinful state (habitus) has operated upon his birth and even his conception, and from this point has passed over to him. What is thereby expressed is not so much any self-exculpation, as on the contrary a self-accusation which glances back to the ultimate ground of natural corruption. He is sinful מלּדה וּמהריון (Psalm 58:4; Genesis 8:21), is טמא מטּמא, an unclean one springing from an unclean (Job 14:4), flesh born of flesh. That man from his first beginning onwards, and that this beginning itself, is stained with sin; that the proneness to sin with its guilt and its corruption is propagated from parents to their children; and that consequently in the single actual sin the sin-pervaded nature of man, inasmuch as he allows himself to be determined by it and himself resolves in accordance with it, become outwardly manifest-therefore the fact of hereditary sin is here more distinctly expressed than in any other passage in the Old Testament, since the Old Testament conception, according to its special character, which always fastens upon the phenomenal, outward side rather than penetrates to the secret roots of a matter, is directed almost entirely to the outward manifestation only of sin, and leaves its natural foundation, its issue in relation to primeval history, and its demonic background undisclosed. The הן in Psalm 51:7 is followed by a correlative second הן in Psalm 51:8 (cf. Isaiah 55:4., Isaiah 54:15.). Geier correctly says: Orat ut sibi in peccatis concepto veraque cordis probitate carenti penitiorem ac mysticam largiri velit sapientiam, cujus medio liberetur a peccati tum reatu tum dominio. אמת is the nature and life of man as conformed to the nature and will of God (cf. ἀλήθεια, Ephesians 4:21). חכמה, wisdom which is most intimately acquainted with (eindringlich weiss) such nature and life and the way to attain it. God delights in and desires truth בטּחות. The Beth of this word is not a radical letter here as it is in Job 12:6, but the preposition. The reins utpote adipe obducti, here and in Job 38:36, according to the Targum, Jerome, and Parchon, are called טחות (Psychol. S. 269; tr. p. 317). Truth in the reins (cf. Psalm 40:9, God's law in visceribus meis) is an upright nature in man's deepest inward parts; and in fact, since the reins are accounted as the seat of the tenderest feelings, in man's inmost experience and perception, in his most secret life both of conscience and of mind (Psalm 16:7). In the parallel member סתם denotes the hidden inward part of man. Out of the confession, that according to the will of God truth ought to dwell and rule in man even in his reins, comes the wish, that God would impart to him (i.e., teach him and make his own), - who, as being born and conceived in sin, is commended to God's mercy, - that wisdom in the hidden part of his mind which is the way to such truth.
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