The Sacrifices of God
Psalm 51:17 (ESV) … “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
The sacrifices of God. The sacrifices which God desires and approves; the sacrifices without which no other offering would be acceptable. David felt that that which he here specified was what was demanded in his case. He had grievously sinned; and the blood of animals offered in sacrifice could not put away his sin, nor could anything remove it unless the heart were itself penitent and contrite. The same thing is true now. Though a most perfect sacrifice, every way acceptable to God, has been made for human guilt by the Redeemer, yet it is as true as it was under the old dispensation in regard to the sacrifices there required, that even that will not avail for us unless we are truly penitent; unless we come before God with a contrite and humble heart.
Are a broken spirit. A mind broken or crushed under the weight of conscious guilt. The idea is that of a burden laid on the soul until it is crushed and subdued.
A broken and a contrite heart. The word rendered contrite means to be broken or crushed, as when the bones are broken, Ps. 44:19; 51:8; and then it is applied to the mind or heart as that which is crushed or broken by the weight of guilt. The word does not differ materially from the term broken. The two together constitute intensity of expression.
Thou wilt not despise. Thou wilt not treat with contempt or disregard. That is, God would look upon them with favour, and to such a heart he would grant his blessing. See Notes on Isa. 57:15; 66:2.
 Barnes, A. (1870–1872). Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms (Vol. 2, p. 91). Blackie & Son.