Reading the Word
Psalm 51:5–9 (ESV)
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Understanding and Applying the Word
There have been some interpreters over the years that have understood verse 5 to mean that David’s mother had sinned when she conceived David and that all sexual activity is sinful. This is not a proper understanding of the verse. The proper interpretation is clear when we look at a translation like the NIV which reads, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David’s focus is on his own sinfulness, not the sinfulness of someone else in this psalm. He acknowledges that he is a sinner and has always been a sinner.
What does David do in light of this truth? He calls out to God to cleanse him. He needs to find forgiveness before God so that he may have the joy that results from having a right relationship with the Lord. We all have the same need as David. We are all sinners and in need of forgiveness. Thankfully, God is gracious and ready to cleanse us and restore us when we call out to him and trust in Jesus Christ, the One who gave his life as a payment for our sin.
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