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In Psalm 25 (A Psalm of David) David expresses trust in God (v1), he requests the Lord to shew him, to teach him (v4), to lead him (v5) and to remember him (v6).

Then he asks the Lord not to remember the sins of his youth nor his transgressions (v7) but not to forget he, himself, but rather to remember him according to mercy, for the sake of the Lord's goodness.

In particular, David makes two specific requests :

For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great. [Psalm 25:11 KJV]

Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. [Psalm 25:18 KJV]

It would seem that David is greatly troubled about his past sins (his youth) and about more recent transgressions. It would seem that he is in affliction and pain and that this is not from an external source but is a result, within him, of his own sins.

Why does David not simply go to the temple and make a sacrifice ?

Why does he make a direct request to the Lord : a personal request ?

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  • Many psalms are attributed to David for the same reason many books of wisdom are attributed to Solomon; personally, I would not take such pious attributions very literally. Furthermore, what on earth makes you assume the psalm was not meant to accompany precisely such sacrifices in the first place ?
    – Lucian
    May 5 at 0:16
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David does the same thing in his prayer of Ps 32 and Ps 51. The sacrifices were only ever a symbol, a reminder, to seek pardon from God.

  • Ps 51:16, 17 - For You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You take no pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
  • 1 Sam 15:22, 23 - But Samuel declared: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obedience to His voice? Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance is like the wickedness of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king.”
  • Micah 6:6-8 - With what shall I come before the LORD when I bow before the God on high? Should I come to Him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? Would the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

Indeed, as the NT notes, these sacrifices had no salvific value whatsoever - Heb 8:5, 9:9, 10:4. See also Isa 1:10-17, Ps 40:6-8, 51:16, 17, Hos 6:6, Prov 15:8, 21:3, Jer 6:20.

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  1. Tanak refers to a sin offering for unintentional sins.
  2. When a person commits an intentional sin and is caught he has to pay back what he has taken and more to the person he has offended
  3. When a person commits an intentional sin and is not caught but feels guilty of what he did he brings a guilt offering
  4. Sacrifices were meant for sins that were not severe and most often were for sins like being unclean and eating holy things, touching something unclean, not following the law of the tabernacle, etc.
  5. A national day of the sin offering was Yom Kippur that is for all types of sins committed and was offered up for the nation as a whole

Some relevant verses are listed below.

Leviticus 4:2 ~ Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a person sins unintentionally [by committing one] of all the commandments of the Lord, which may not be committed, and he commits [part] of one of them.

Leviticus 4:13 And if the entire community of Israel errs because a matter was hidden from the eyes of the congregation, and they commit one of all the commandments of the Lord, which may not be committed, incurring guilt;

Leviticus 16:5 And from the community of the children of Israel, he shall take two he-goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering....8 And Aaron shall place lots upon the two he-goats: one lot "For the Lord," and the other lot, "For Azazel."... 16 And he shall effect atonement upon the Holy from the defilements of the children of Israel and from their rebellions and all their unintentional sins. He shall do likewise to the Tent of Meeting, which dwells with them amidst their defilements... 29 And [all this] shall be as an eternal statute for you; in the seventh month, on the tenth of the month, you shall afflict yourselves, and you shall not do any work neither the native nor the stranger who dwells among you.

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