Who can understand his errors? cleanse you me from secret faults.
At this point the Psalmist pauses. He has been looking at his life in the light of the holy law, and, realising how full of imperfection it was, he resumes again in a penitential strain, "Who can understand his errors?" There is not only the acknowledgment that life is full of error; there is corruption at the very spring of life. He also acknowledges the difficulty of understanding our errors. Sin destroys the power by which we detect it. It creates a false standard, by which we judge ourselves. There is a personal touch in this acknowledgment. "Who can understand his own errors?" The sinner is sometimes sharp in discerning the errors of other people, although blind to his own. Thus it was with David himself. We are all too ready to acknowledge sin in a general way, without trying to note the particular sins we are most guilty of. There follows the prayer, "Cleanse Thou me from secret faults." These include —
1. Faults unknown to ourselves. If we are trying to follow Christ, and live a straight and honest and pure life, we find difficulties at every turn. Temptations are strewn thickly around on every path. Unknown sins are the most dangerous to the soul. Sins noted and marked upon our memories are less likely to be ruinous to the soul than those secret sins which elude the observation.
2. Faults known to ourselves, but known only to ourselves. Each lives three lives: the life by which we are known to the world, the life by which we are known to our household, and the life known only to ourselves. All sins are, to a certain extent, presumptuous. Sins of presumption, properly speaking, are sins of will, knowingly and wilfully committed. It is a sin of presumption to act as if we needed no mercy.
(T. Somerville, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
WEB: Who can discern his errors? Forgive me from hidden errors.