Psalm 51


Psalm 51:1–22

David Confesses His Sin to God


Outline of Chapter 51:

 

         Introduction         An Introduction to Psalm 51

 

         Inscription            Psalm 51 Inscription

 

         vv.     1–4           David demands forgiveness for his sin

         vv.     5–9           David asks to be cleansed from all iniquity

         vv.    10–13         David asks for restoration

         vv.    14–17         God desires a contrite heart rather than burnt offerings

         vv.    18–19         Restore Jerusalem as well

 

         Addendum          Psalm 51 Addendum


Charts, Short Doctrines and Maps:

 

         Introduction         The Organization of Psalm 51

         Introduction         Common and Parallel Elements of Psalm 51—Imperatives

         Introduction         Summary of the Penitential Psalms

         Introduction         The Co-Authorship of God the Holy Spirit and David

 

         v.       1              Psalm 51:1 as a Distich

         v.       1              In the Beloved (In Christ)

         v.       1              Psalm 51:1 and Parallel Passages

         v.       2              Psalm 51:2 as a Synonymous Distich

         v.       2              What Did David (and Other Saints) Know About God’s Forgiveness?

         v.       2              What Satan Did not Understand

         v.       2              The Dual Authorship of the Holy Scriptures

         v.       4              Confession of Sin in the Old Testament

         v.       4              The Abbreviated Doctrine of Rebound (Confession of Personal Sin)

         v.       5              The Doctrine of Imputations

         v.       5              The Sin Nature is Passed Down Through the Male

         v.       5              Did God Make Man Upright?

         v.       5              The Barrier Between Man and God

         v.       5              Abortion—Logic and the Bible

         v.       6              Doctrine and the Facets of Our Souls

         v.       6              The Importance of Bible Doctrine

         v.       7              The Doctrine of Hyssop

         v.       7              The 3 Stages (or Phases) of Sanctification

         v.       8              The Doctrine of Bones

         v.       9              Psalm 51:9 as a Synonymous Distich

         v.      10              The Doctrine of the Heart

         v.      10              Doctrine of the Human Spirit

         v.      10              The Original 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

         v.      10              Barnes on Psalm 51:10b

         v.      10              Psalm 51:10 as a Synthetic Distich

         v.      11              The Sin Unto Death—the Basic Concept and References

         v.      11              The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

         v.      11              Psalm 51:11 as a Synthetic Distich

         v.      12              The Joy of God’s Deliverance

         v.      12              God Restores That Which Is Lost

         v.      12              The Qal stem of Çâmake (סָמַ) [pronounced saw-MAHKe]

         v.      12              Psalm 51:11–12 as a Quatrastich

         v.      13              The Abbreviated Doctrine of the Way of God

         v.      13              Doctrinal Teaching Available to King David

         v.      14              Justification and Forgiveness of Sins

         v.      14              Parallel Passages to Psalm 51:14

         v.      16              The Man-ward and God-Ward Interpretation of Psalm 51:16

         v.      16              The Parallels of David and Jesus Christ

         v.      16              David’s Suffering in Psalm 22 Parallels Jesus Christ on the Cross

         v.      16              The Parallels of Solomon to Jesus Christ

         v.      16              The Shadows of Hebrews 9

         v.      16              What God Delights In

         v.      16              What God Does not Delight In

         v.      16              Psalm 51:16 Summarized

         v.      17              Scofield’s Outline of Psalm 51

         v.      18              The Walls of Jerusalem

         v.      18              How Do These Final Verses Fit into Psalm 51?

         v.      19              Psalm 51:15–19 Tied Together

 

         Addendum          A Davidic Timeline

         Addendum          A Complete Translation of Psalm 51


Chapter Outline

 

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines

Forward

Doctrines Covered and Alluded to

Chapters of the Bible Alluded To

Psalms Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

Other Chapters of the Bible Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

Definition of Terms

Introduction

Text

Addendum

www.kukis.org

 

Exegetical Studies in the Psalms


Doctrines Covered

Doctrines Alluded To

The Doctrine of Bones

The Doctrine of the Heart

The Angelic Conflict

Importance of Bible Doctrine

Doctrine of the Human Spirit

The Doctrine of Imputations

Doctrine of the Conscience

The Essence of God

The Dual Authorship of Scripture

 

Doctrine of Eternal Security

 

 

 

The Illustration of the Slave Market of Sin

The Doctrine of Inspiration

 

 

Study of Inspiration

Short Doctrine of Inspiration

 

 

Doctrine of Intercalation

The Laws of Divine Establishment

 

 

 

Movement of the Ark and the Tent of God

 

 

Polygamy

Progressive Revelation

 

 

Rebound

The Sin Unto Death—Basic Concept and References

 

 

Timeline of David's Life

 


Chapters of the Bible Alluded To

Gen. 22

1Chron. 17

Psalm 22

Psalm 31

 

Psalm 38

Isa. 53

 


Psalms Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

Psalm 32

 

 

 


Other Chapters of the Bible Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

2Sam. 11 (HTML) (PDF)

2Sam. 12 (HTML) (PDF)

Psalm 22

Hebrews 9


Many who read and study this chapter are 1st or 2nd generation students of R. B. Thieme, Jr., so that much of this vocabulary is second nature. One of Bob’s contributions to theology is a fresh vocabulary along with a number of concepts which are theologically new or reworked, yet still orthodox. Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with his work, the definitions below will help you to fully understand all that is being said. In addition to this, I will use a number of other more traditional technical theological terms which will be used and therefore defined as well.

Definition of Terms

Client Nation

Client-Nation, is a national entity in which a certain number of spiritually mature Christians (the salt of the earth) have formed a pivot sufficient to sustain the nation and through which God specifically protects this nation so that believers can fulfill the divine mandates of evangelism, communication and custodianship of Bible doctrine, providing a haven for Jews, and sending missionaries abroad. The United States is a client-nation to God. A client nation must have freedom: Freedom to seek God, freedom to use one’s own volition and self-determination to succeed or fail, freedom from anarchy and tyranny, freedom for evangelism, freedom for believers to hear Bible teaching without government interference and, therefore, to grow spiritually, and freedom to send missionaries to other nations.

Cycles of Discipline

A national entity which is a client nation to God is under both God’s protection and His discipline (much like the individual believer). As a nation moves further and further from God, God may impose disciplinary measures on that nation, which include economic disaster, illness, civil unrest, military defeat, and even invasion which may include a slavery or dispersion of the people. These cycles are found in Lev. 26. Although these warnings are designed for Israel, all client nations to God may face similar downward historical trends.

Distich

A distich [pronounced DIHS-tihk] is a couplet or pair of verses or lines, usually read as a unit., which fit well together into a psalm. The book of Proverbs is chapter after chapter of distichs.

Fifth Cycle of Discipline

The fifth cycle of discipline involves complete loss of personal and national sovereignty, the destruction of the family and the nation. Offerings to God are unacceptable. Nations which have undergone this destruction have experienced slavery, cannibalism, and the assimilation of its surviving citizens into other cultures.

Interlocking Systems of Arrogance

Also known as the arrogance complex. The interlocking systems of arrogance refers to many clusters of sins which have a tendency to interlock with one another. Entering into this complex is more than carnality and it is different from reversionism. This doctrine is covered in much greater detail in 2Sam. 11 (HTML) (PDF).

Justification

Justification represents that aspect of salvation whereby God qualifies man to have eternal life based on the imputation of God's absolute righteousness based upon faith in Jesus Christ.

                  Progressive revelation

Progressive revelation means that, each additional truth builds upon, expands, and better explains that which was already taught. New revelation does not supercede, replace or nullify previous revelation, but builds upon that which is past and that which is foundational.

Redemption

Redemption is the saving work of Christ whereby He purchased our freedom from the slave market of sin by means of His death on the cross.

Rebound technique

Temporal restoration to fellowship with God by naming your sins to Him.

Sanctification

Sanctification is a technical theological term for the status quo of the royal family of God in three phases of the plan of God. The term means to be set apart to God for a special purpose. We, the royal family of God, are set apart to God in three ways (at salvation, in our lives, and in the eternal state).

Some of these definitions are taken from

http://www.bibledoctrinechurch.org/?subpages/GLOSSARY.shtml

http://rickhughesministries.org/content/Biblical-Terms.pdf

http://www.realtime.net/~wdoud/topics.html

http://www.wordoftruthministries.org/termsanddefs.htm

http://www.theopedia.com/

http://www.gbible.org/index.php?proc=d4d

http://gracebiblechurchwichita.org/


——————————


An Introduction to Psalm 51


I ntroduction: Psalm 51 is one of the psalms which clearly associates its writing with a particular time and place. The inscription reads: To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. David had sex with Bathsheba, a married woman, in 2Sam. 11 (HTML) (PDF) and Nathan the prophet came and spoke to David in 2Sam. 12 (HTML) (PDF). Since David, herein, admits to his sin, then we know that this psalm was written shortly after Nathan told David, “You are the man!” What had happened was, Nathan approach David about a legal matter. It seems that there was this rich man who had a large ranch with a large number of livestock and flocks; and there was this poor man who had but one ewe-lamb, whom he had apparently nursed from sickness to health, and whom he treated as one of the family. When the rich man had company come into town, he just did not want to take any animals from his own flock, so he took the poor man’s little ewe lamb and slaughtered it to feed to his guests. David was furious over this. He said that the man was worthy of death, and said that he ought to pay fourfold for his taking and slaughtering the lamb. Then Nathan looked at David and say, “You are the man!” David suddenly recognizes just how evil he has been in his own personal life. Instead of going out and leading the army attack against Ammon, David just stayed in Jerusalem, sleeping until the crack of noon, at which time, he’d go out and chase skirt. David saw Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers (a soldier who is off at battle), and he took her (sexually). Then when David found out that she was pregnant, he brought her husband, Uriah the Hittite, home from the war, and tried to get him to spend the night at home, so that he would have sex with his wife and think that the child she was carrying was theirs. Since this did not work, David then had Uriah killed on the battlefield. It took Nathan confronting David to make David realize just how far he had fallen. He appeared to be unable to see himself objectively.


Several pertinent topics were covered in both 2Sam. 11–12. There is the obvious problem of, how can David, a man after God’s Own heart, a writer of many psalms and possibly a great deal of Samuel, have sex with another man’s wife and then have that man killed? There is much more going on here than simple carnality. We delve into those topics in detail in the exegesis of those chapters of Samuel and we will touch on them in this chapter.


Secondly, how does God deal with this? David is king of Israel; he is a spiritual giant, and yet he does some of the most heinous things a man can do. The simple explanation is, God lays installment discipline upon David; however, that is not the full and complete story. David has to pay fourfold for the lamb (Bathsheba) as he himself had determined, so God puts terrific pressure on David 4 times (this is all covered in great detail in 2Sam. 12). However, during these times, David is in and out of fellowship, so these things are not, strictly speaking, discipline, but pressures which God put upon David in order to permanently guide him away from his sexual addiction. The end result was to turn David into a monogamous husband.


In Psalm 51, we are on the ground floor of all of this. David has sinned, Nathan has approached him, and David has acknowledged his sin. In this psalm, David admits his sin to God. We may reasonably assume that, David was moved to write this psalm after being confronted by Nathan and after confessing his sin. The confession of sin in this psalm is actually looking back on his confession of sin. It is treated as if David is confessing this sin within the psalm because that is the thrust of the psalm. Up front, David tells the time period during which this psalm was written. However, his confession of sin is not coterminous with v. 4. We know this for a fact, because prior to v. 4 comes vv. 1–3. David cannot write Scripture while out of fellowship. So he has to be in fellowship prior to v. 4. This is a pretty minor point. However, we do not know how long after David’s meeting with Nathan that he wrote this psalm. Was it a few hours later? A few days later?


At the end of this psalm, things become rather difficult and confused. In the final few verses, David starts talking about the walls of Jerusalem and animal sacrifices that God will accept and those that He will not accept. It is easy to read this through and wonder, what the heck is David talking about and what does this train of thought mean? In fact, some Bible commentators just say that the final 2 verses is really another psalm. I’ll be able to reasonably explain this, and we will examine the final 5 verses as a contiguous whole at the very end.


I found Psalm 51 very difficult to organize and simply used the NASB’s divisions. The first 4 stanzas are roughly the same length, but without any easily definable parallelisms. The 1st, 3rd and 4th stanzas begin with imperatives, but the imperatives are in the middle of the 2nd stanza. To begin each stanza with imperatives would throw their relative size out of whack. So, I have listed several organizational approaches below:

The Organization of Psalm 51

Delitzsch

I.       Prayer for the Remission of Sin (Psalms 51:1-9).

II.      Prayer for Renewal (Psalms 51:10-13).

III.     A Vow to Offer Spiritual Sacrifices (Psalms 51:14-17).

IV.     Intercession for Jerusalem (Psalms 51:18-19).

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

1.      Pleading for God's mercy (1-2)

2.      Confessing and acknowledging sin (3-5)

3.      Hungering for a pure heart once more (6-12)

4.      Resolving to declare God's grace (13-15)

5.      Offering the sacrifice of a contrite heart (16-17)

6.      Praying for Jerusalem's prosperity (18-19)

Barnes

1.      In the first Psalm 51:1–12, the psalmist confesses his guilt, and prays for pardon.

         1)      He begins with an earnest plea for mercy in Psalm 51:1–2.

         2)      He humbly acknowledges his offence, without any attempt to vindicate himself, or to apologise for it Psalm 51:3–6.

         3)      He pleads with God to cleanse him, to pardon him, to create in him a new heart, and not to cast him off or to take his Holy Spirit from him Psalm 51:7–12.

2.      In the second part Psalm 51:13–19 he shows how he would manifest his sense of the divine mercy if he was forgiven: expressing the purpose to lead a new life; to devote himself to the duties of religion; to do all in his power to repair the evils of his conduct, and especially to induce others to avoid the way of sin, warning them by his example.

         1)      He says that he would teach transgressors the true ways of God, and that sinners would be converted to Him in Psalm 51:13.

         2)      He would sing aloud the praise of God in Psalm 51:14–15.

         3)      He would offer to God the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, Psalm 51:16–17.

         4)      And he then pleads Psalm 51:18–19, that God would interpose and bless Zion, that the great work might be completed in which he had been engaged in defending the city, and in preparing a place which would be secure, where God might be worshipped, and where sacrifices and offerings might perpetually ascend on his altar.

Lee Campbell

1.      Prayer for personal restoration (vv.1-2)

         1)      Confession & humility (vv.3-6)

         2)      Return to the request for restoration (vv.7-12)

         3)      Gratitude (vv.13-17)

2.      Prayer for Israel's restoration (vv.18-19)

Highest Praise/Mark Copeland

I. DAVID'S PLEA (51:1-12)

   A. HIS APPEAL TO GOD'S LOVE AND MERCY (1-2)

      1. He pleads mercy according to God's loving kindness

      2. He implores forgiveness according to God's tender mercies

      3. He begs washing and cleansing from his sin

   B. HIS CONFESSION OF SINFUL CONDUCT (3-4)

      1. He admits his sin which is ever before him

      2. He confesses that he has sinned against God, and done evil in

         His sight

      3. God is just and blameless in judging him

   C. HIS ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S DESIRE (5-6)

      1. His expression of sinfulness

         a. He was brought forth in iniquity

         b. In sin his mother conceived him

      2. His awareness of what God's desire

         a. God wants truth in the inward parts

         b. God wills to make him know wisdom in the hidden part

   D. HIS PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION (7-12)

      1. He prays for forgiveness, for God to...

         a. Purge him with hyssop, that he might be clean

         b. Wash him, that he might be whiter than snow

         c. Hide His face from his sins

         d. Blot out all his iniquities

      2. He prays for restoration, for God to...

         a. Make him hear joy and gladness

         b. Make his broken bones rejoice

         c. Create in him a clean heart

         d. Renew a steadfast spirit in him

         e. Not cast him away from His presence

         f. Not take His Holy Spirit from him

         g. Restore to him the joy of His salvation

         h. Uphold him with His generous Spirit

II. DAVID'S PROMISE (51:13-17)

   A. TO TEACH OTHERS (13)

      1. He will teach transgressors the ways of God

      2. Sinners will be converted to God

   B. TO OFFER PRAISE (14-17)

      1. If the God of his salvation will deliver him from

         bloodguiltiness and open his lips...

         a. He will sing aloud of God's righteousness

         b. His mouth will show forth His praise

      2. For he knows in what God delights

         a. Not sacrifice or burnt offering, or he would have offered it

         b. But a broken spirit and a contrite heart, God will not

            despise

III. DAVID'S PRAYER (51:18-19)

   A. FOR ZION AND JERUSALEM (18)

      1. That God do His good pleasure to Zion

      2. That God build the walls of Jerusalem

   B. THEN GOD WILL BE PLEASED (19)

      1. With the sacrifices of righteousness

      2. With burnt offering and whole burnt offering

      -- Then they shall offer bulls on His altar

Church Education Resource Ministries

A. Introductionary Prayer (1-2)

B. Confession (3-6)

C. Petition (7-12)

D. Vow of Praise (13-17)

E. Prayer for Prosperity (18-19)

From Psalms course East Tennessee School of Preaching

I.       His prayer for forgiveness for his shameful deed. 51:1-9.

II.      His plea for restoration and renewal. 51:10-12.

III.     His pledge to teach others the lessons he had learned. 51:13-17.

IV.     The King's prayer for his nation. 51:18-19

Harvest Time

I. Request of a sinner: Have mercy upon me. (1)

A. According to Thy loving kindness.

B. According to the multitude of Thy tender mercies.

II. Repentance of a sinner. (2-6)

A. Blot out my transgressions.

B. Wash me throughly from my iniquity.

C. Cleanse me from my sin.

D. I acknowledge my transgressions.

E. My sin is ever before me.

F. Against thee only have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight.

1. You are justified when You speak.

2. You are clear when You judge.

G. I was shaped in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.

H. You know my inward and hidden parts and You will make me know wisdom.

III. Restoration of a repentant sinner. (7-12)

A. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean. Hyssop was used in the Old Testament for cleansing sin.

B. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

C. Restore my joy and gladness.

D. Hide Thy face from my sins.

E. Blot out all mine iniquities.

F. Create in me a clean heart, O God. The word of “create” as used here means new. See 2 Corinthians 5:17.

G. Renew a right spirit within me.

H. Cast me not away from Thy presence.

I. Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.

J. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.

K. Uphold me with Thy free spirit.

IV. Results of a restored soul. (13-15)

A. I will teach transgressors Thy ways.

B. Sinners shall be converted unto thee.

C. My tongue will sing aloud of Your righteousness when You deliver me from blood-guiltiness.

D. My lips will be opened to show forth Your praise.

V. The sacrifice that pleases God. (16-19)

A. It is not offerings and sacrifices alone.

B. It is:

1. A broken spirit.

2. A contrite heart.

3. Doing good to Zion (the people of God).

4. Building the walls of Jerusalem (the dwelling place of God).

5. Sacrifices of righteousness.

C. Then the Lord will be pleased with the offerings brought to the altar.

The NIV Study Bible Outline

1.      David’s prayer for himself. Have mercy and wash away my sins. Psalm 51:1-2

2.      David’s sin is before him and says that he was sinful at birth. He desires wisdom in his innermost being. Psalm 51:3–6

3.      David asks to be cleansed and for his sins to be removed from him. Psalm 51:7–9

4.      Create a clean heart within him and restore his joy. Psalm 51:10–12

5.      David desires to teach transgressors to return to God. Psalm 51:13–17

6.      David’s prayer for Zion (the well-being of the king is tied directly to the nation). Psalm 51:18-19

This is based upon their description of two verses of introduction; two verses of conclusion, which frame 5 stanzas of 5 lines, 3 lines, 3 lines, and 5 lines. Footnote

Let me admit that, when you find this many ways of organizing Psalm 51, it means that I am still not convinced of my own outline and I am offering a number of other outlines. However, it ought to be obvious that there is very little agreement on how Psalm 51 ought to be outlined.

Delitzsch is from http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=ps&chapter=051

Wilson is from http://www.jesuswalk.com/psalms/psalms-11-forgiveness.htm

Barnes is from Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament; from e-Sword, Psalm 51 chapter notes.

Campbell is from http://www.xenos.org/classes/psalms/psweek2.htm

Highest Praise is from http://www.higherpraise.com/outlinesA/psa/psa_51a.htm (Which is identical to...)

Mark Copeland is from http://executableoutlines.com/psa/psa_51.htm

CERM is from http://www.cerm.info/bible_studies/Exegetical/psa_51.htm

Tennessee School of Preaching http://www.whitebluffchurch.org/outline_of_psalms.htm

Harvest Time http://www.harvestime.org/Psalms/TheExpositoryStudy.pdf

http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/19-Psalms/Text/Articles/Barentsen-Ps51-GTJ.pdf presents a chiasmos approach which was at first intriguing, but, in the end, confusing.

By including these outlines, I am not specifically endorsing any of these websites or their theology.

Quite frankly, none of these outlines quite put together the structure of Psalm 51 in a satisfactory way. However, the fact that there are so many ought to make you realize that the organization is so difficult that Bible expositors over the years never settled on a reasonable organization.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Personally, I like to try to determine just how David had this laid out in his own mind, as with all the other psalms. Sometimes, that can reveal the interpretation of the psalm as well cause the most important points to stand out. I was not so lucky with the organization of this particular psalm.


David’s organization of Scripture can be quite complex. There are various clues that we would look for. Because of the preponderance of imperatives that David uses, directed toward God, it is reasonable to examine those first.

Common and Parallel Elements of Psalm 51—Imperatives

Scripture

Verse

Text/Commentary

2 imperatives

1a

1b

Show grace to me, O Elohim, according to Your graciousness;

according to the abundance of your graciousness, blot out my disobedience.

2 imperatives

2a

2b

Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity [or, depraved action];

and, from my sin, cleanse me.

David’s confession

David’s knowledge

3–6

For I know my disobedience,

and my sin [is] continually before me.

With regards to You—[and] to You alone—I have sinned;

and I have done evil in Your eyes.

So that You are righteous in Your declaration; [and] You are justified in Your judgment.

Listen, I was born in iniquity

and my mother conceived me in sin.

Listen, You desire [and take pleasure in] truth in the inner being;

and You make me know wisdom in [my] hidden [being].

2 2nd person masculine singular, indicatives

7a


7b

You will bear my blame [or, take the consequences for my sin; make a sin offering for me] with hyssop and I will be cleansed;

You will wash me and I will be made white more than snow.

These are not imperatives, but often treated as such.

2 2nd person masculine singular, indicatives

8a

8b

You will cause me to hear happiness and joy;

let the bones [that] You have crushed leap for joy.

Again, neither is an imperative, but they are similar to imperatives.

2 imperatives

9a

9b

Hide Your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquities.

2 imperatives

10a

10b

Create for me, O Elohim, a clean [and pure] heart;

and restore a firmly established spirit in my inner being.

2 2nd person masculine singular indicatives with negatives.

11a

11b


Do not cast me away from Your presence

and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Strictly speaking, these are not imperatives, but imperfects with a negative, which structure is similar to an imperative.

Imperative followed by an indicative

12a

12b


Restore to me the joy of Your salvation

and You will sustain [or, uphold] me [with] a Spirit of nobility [willingness, liberality, happiness].

The second verb is similar to an imperative in its usage.

 

13

Let me teach [or, train with discipline] rebels Your way

and sinners will return unto [or, turn back to] You.

Imperative followed by a resultant action.

14a

14b

Deliver me, O Elohim, from the guilt of murder;

my tongue will loudly celebrate Your righteousness, O Elohim of salvation.

David adds a resultant action to follow the imperative.

2nd person masculine singular, imperfect followed by a resultant action.

15a

15b


O Adonai, You open up my lips

and my mouth makes known [doctrinal] praise.

Again, the 2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect is similar to an imperative. This is followed by a resultant action.

David’s knowledge

16–17

For You do not desire [take pleasure in, delight in] an animal sacrifice

and You are not satisfied should I give a burnt offering.

A broken spirit [rather than] slaughtered animals of Elohim;

You do not despise, O Elohim, a broken and crushed heart.

Imperative followed by an indicative.

18a

18b

By Your gracious free will, do good to Zion;

You will rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

The second verb as an imperfect acting similarly to the imperative.

2nd person masculine singular, indicative.

19a



At that time, You will delight in sacrifices of righteousness—a burnt offering and a whole burnt offering—[and] at that time, [sacrificial] bulls will ascend upon Your altar.

The indicative here is similar to an imperative.

For all intents and purposes, this is an attempt to gather similar elements in this psalm in order to organize it.

I eventually came up with a slightly different approach:

David’s Demands        (vv. 1–2)

         David’s Confession      (vv. 3–4)

                  David’s Dilemma          (vv. 5–6)

David’s Demands        (vv. 7–8)

David’s Demands        (vv. 9–10)

         David’s Request         (vv. 11–12)

                  David’s Promise           (vv. 13–14)

         David’s Knowledge      (vv. 15–17)

David’s Demand          (v. 18)

         David’s Knowledge      (v. 19)

Quite frankly, I still am not happy with this approach either. At this point, I am willing to listen to suggestions.

However, as I continue studying this chapter, I think the key is, this is a set of distichs. A distich [pronounced DIHS-tihk] is a couplet or pair of verses or lines, usually read as a unit., which fit well together into a psalm. The book of Proverbs is chapter after chapter of distichs. Understanding this as a series of distichs does not mean that, these are loosely organized ideas gathered together in a set of 2 line distichs. There will be a natural cohesive flow as well as a completeness to this psalm.

This idea here is, David is being restored to fellowship and to the spiritual life; therefore, he does not have the mind quite yet for complex spiritual thinking. Therefore, we may be attempting to overlay and order upon this psalm which does not exist. What this could simply be is a series of distichs, because that is what David is capable of putting together.

What ought to be quite striking is, David has cone wrong; he is completely in the wrong; and yet he uses the imperative mood with God. He demands that God wash away his sins, that God cleanse him; and God give him a new heart. This is quite remarkable!


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Although, from the outlines, you may have a fairly good idea what is in this psalm, let’s go through it. The inscription places this psalm in time—after Nathan the prophet came to David because he had illicit relations with Bathsheba. It was Nathan who had to come to David, to speak to him, so that David could look at himself. David begins this psalm, not with a confession, but with 4 imperatives, all aimed at God, telling God to blot out his transgressions and to wash him thoroughly (vv. 1–2). Then David acknowledges his sin, although the sins he committed are not specifically named in this psalm (vv. 3–4). In v. 5, it appears that David is continuing his confession, but he is actually stating a doctrinal point: Look, I was born with a sin nature. Then David begins with the imperatives again, demanding the God make him as white as snow (vv. 7–9). Then David calls for a new heart to be created within him—a new spirit (v. 10). He then asks for God not to cast him away or to take His Holy Spirit from him (v. 11). He asks to be restored to inner peace and happiness, and he will see to it that he will teach God’s Word to those who have gone astray (vv. 12–13). If delivered from sin, David promises that he will sing of God’s righteousness and deliverance (vv. 14–15). Then David says some things which are quite unusual. He says that God does not desire animal sacrifices, but, when Jerusalem is built up again, then these sacrifices will resume (vv. 16–19).


The NIV Study Bible lists this as one of the penitential psalms. Penitential [pronounced pehn-eh-TEN(T)-shahl] is an adjective which is related to penance. The Collins English Dictionary defines penance as 1. voluntary self-punishment to atone for a sin, crime, etc.; 2. a feeling of regret for one's wrongdoings; 3. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) Christianity; a.  a punishment usually consisting of prayer, fasting, etc., undertaken voluntarily as an expression of penitence for sin; b.  a punishment of this kind imposed by church authority as a condition of absolution. What is pertinent to us is, these are psalms in which the writer admits to a sin which he has committed.

Summary of the Penitential Psalms

Psalm

Description

Psalm 6

A psalm where David asks not to be disciplined by God in anger. It is not clear when David wrote (or prayed) this psalm. David is clearly feeling the pain of discipline here, and his enemies are aware that David is under great pressure.

Psalm 25

This psalm has a great many parallels to Psalm 51, including the redemption of Israel at the end of the psalm. However, it speaks of the sins of David’s youth, which appear to have been in the past. It almost gives the impression that David is nearing the end of his life. David in this psalm faces many troubles and enemies; he also speaks of friendship with God, which status is rarely found in Scripture (James 2:23 calls Abraham the friend of God).

Psalm 32

Psalm 32 is generally presented as being parallel to Psalm 51, although it is not as clearly identified as such. David speaks of a man being happy because his transgression is covered; and it appears as if this plasm may have been written after Psalm 51. That David has acknowledged his sin to God is clear in this psalm.

Psalm 38

This is very similar to Psalm 6; David asks not to be disciplined in God’s anger; and he speaks of great pain that he is under because of this discipline. Even his friends and companions stand off from David, in this psalm, which portion sounds very much like the Book of Job. At the end, David confesses his sin and speaks of his enemies, who hate him wrongfully. Although it is not clear when this was written, it might fit in well with the revolution that David faced after the Bathsheba incident.

Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is clearly David’s confession of sin with regards to his sin of adultery and murder. Several times in this psalm, David demands that God forgive him of his sin and make him white as snow. David also promises to guide others into forgiveness as well. In this psalm, he also speaks of animal sacrifices and of the nation Israel.

Psalm 102

This penitential psalm is not attributed to any human author. It begins with the psalmist speaking of being in great pain and suffering. The writer speaks of Zion, which is where David’s palace is built; so that this could be written by one of the good kings of Judah (e.g., Hezekiah). The latter half of the psalm speaks of Israel as a nation, and its relationship to other nations. Although this psalm could have certainly been written by a king under discipline, he works this into Israel’s relationship to God and Israel’s place in the world. God immutability can be depended upon, which suggests that, perhaps this was written when Israel or Judah went under the 5th Stage of National Discipline.

Psalm 130

Psalm 130 speaks of a man under discipline; but it could be Israel under God’s discipline as well. It is a very short psalm where the writer calls upon God’s grace and forgiveness. At the end, he calls upon the final redemption of nation Israel.

Psalm 143

This final penitential psalm is written by David, and he asks not to be judged by God, as all men are sinful in God’s sight. David writes as if he is experiencing separation from God and that he is asking to be reacquainted with God. He asks God for deliverance, for teaching of God’s will and for the destruction of his adversaries.

These are not the only psalms where David endured great pain. Psalm 22 is all about David enduring great pain and it parallels the cross. However, there is no indication that this psalm is associated with discipline.

The list of these psalms came out of The NIV Study Bible; ©1995 by The Zondervan Corporation; p. 784 (footnote).


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With regards to the writer and timing of this psalm: up front, in the inscription, this is said to be a psalm of David, and the contents of most of this psalm seem to bear this out. However, the very last few verses, when speaking of the walls of Jerusalem, that causes several commentators to incorrectly conclude that this was written during the time of the Babylonian captivity. Footnote The problem with this approach is, the inscriptions appear to be every bit as much a part of the psalm as do this verses, which is why we examine the inscriptions as well. Furthermore, I believe that we can give a reasonable explanation for the last 2 verses, which keeps this psalm in the time and place that it purports to be written.


Application: The sin which David committed may or may not be your weakness. The principle is the same. David occupies a position of leadership and, therefore, great influence over all Israel. What he does affects all Israel. The politicians in Washington need to keep this in mind, because God will not simply sweep their sins under the rug because they hold to the proper political positions.


David’s life, as a man of doctrine, and as a man who sinned, has a legacy which goes on for centuries. He is the man by which all other kings are judged (1Kings 9:4 11:6, 38 15:3, 11 2Kings 14:3). However, the Bible also tells us: Nevertheless, for David's sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem, because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite (1Kings 15:4–5). So, nearly 100 years later, David’s great sin bears mention.


If you are moving along with me, in the same order as I have examined these chapters, what God does with David in 2Sam. 12 is only the beginning. God will work with David for another 10 years to turn him around. By work, I mean God will kick David’s butt all over Israel, so that David understands and learns just how far he has gotten out of line.

 

Commentators have, from time to time, perhaps revealed too much. Thomas Chalmers wrote of this psalm: This is the most deeply affecting of all the Psalms, and I am sure the one most applicable to me. It seems to have been the effusion of a soul smarting under the sense of a recent and great transgression. Footnote


One of the amazing things which will become apparent in this psalm is the co-authorship of God the Holy Spirit and David.

The Co-Authorship of God the Holy Spirit and David

There is another topic which we will cover in this psalm which is fundamental to understanding prophecy, but has never been fully explained—the co-authorship of God the Holy Spirit and the human author (David, in this case). David is a man of limited knowledge. Now, he possibly knew more about the plan of God than anyone else during his day, but that knowledge was limited. I am of the opinion that he did not fully understand that the Messiah would come and die for our sins. In fact, I don’t know that any Old Testament saint understood this to be God’s plan. Old Testament believers did know that Messiah was coming, and they knew that He would restore all things, and they knew that He would rule over the earth—but they did not fully understand what Jesus would do in His 1st advent. They did not know that Jesus would die for our sins. I say this because I am unaware of anywhere in the Talmud of the Mishna where any ancient Jewish rabbi suggests such a thing. Even John the Baptizer did not fully understand Who Jesus was or what He would do (Matt. 11:1–3). Therefore, let me propose to you that David did not fully appreciate what Messiah would do. David understood enough to realize that there had to be more to it than the offering of animal sacrifices to cleanse him, yet, he knows that he is fully cleansed of his sins. In fact, David knows that he can demand complete cleansing from God.

Here is what will be amazing to you in this psalm: David will take us as far as he is able to take us, and tell us as much as he is able to convey. However, God the Holy Spirit is the co-Author of Psalm 51, so His complete knowledge of what is to come will be conveyed by the same words that David uses to convey his incomplete knowledge. We will be able to see this psalm from the perspective of two parallel tracks, both of which use the exact same words. We will view this psalm from David’s perspective, which is one of incomplete knowledge; and from God’s perspective, which is one of full and complete knowledge.

What has been mistakenly taught by many excellent Bible teachers is, David or Isaiah or Abraham understood the gospel fully when they wrote Psalm 22 or Gen. 22 or Isa. 53—but they did not. They were writing about things which were pertinent to their own lives at that time. They did not have the full picture. God the Holy Spirit had the full picture, so that we, often coming to these passages from having learned the gospel in the New Testament, understand them in that light. Now, this is fine, because that is the understanding of God the Holy Spirit, Who understands all things. However, if we step into the sandals of David, Abraham or Isaiah, our perspective is suddenly limited. They did not fully comprehend that Jesus would come to this earth, fully God and fully man, and die for our sins. This was outside of their frame of reference.

How were they saved? Exactly the same way you and I are saved—they believed in Jehovah Elohim (or, Jesus Christ in the New Testament). Many of us had barely a thimbleful of knowledge of soteriology when we were saved. For me, all I knew was, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. I knew nothing about the resurrection, the ascension, nor did I fully understand His sacrifice on the cross. I only knew those words and I depended upon those words—I depended upon Jesus Christ for my salvation many decades ago, and later, had the gaps filled in—after I had been saved. Not too long after I was saved, I began to study the Bible and I began to understand that Jesus died for me on the cross, that God the Father poured out my sins upon Him and judged these sins; and that God later raised Jesus from the dead, as a clear testimony that His sacrifice was efficacious. I did not know all of this stuff when I was saved; I did not study for months, begin to develop some understanding of soteriology and then was really saved. I was saved the moment I put my faith in Jesus Christ, even though what I knew about Him was minuscule. It is the same for all Old Testament believers; they were saved through faith in Jehovah Elohim, the Revealed Member of the Godhead. They placed their faith in Him, knowing very little about Him, and God saved them. God made their non-meritorious faith efficacious.

There will be more on this topic to come; but what is key is, David will reveal his limited knowledge and God the Holy Spirit will reveal His complete knowledge, both using the same exact words.


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As an aside, separate from the material before and after, it is surprising that so few psalms have ever been put to music. God has allowed the music to these psalms to fall by the wayside, so that they may be interpreted in a contemporary melody. As we have found in our own lives, there is nothing which is stronger in our souls than to know a series of verses upon which we can depend, whether they speak to our salvation, our eternal security, or whatever. The psalms were put to music at one time, and ought to be put to music again. There exist enough translations so that, if the meter is not quite right with one translation, it can be found to coincide with the music in another.

This does not mean that these verses are necessarily interpreted (although they could be), but that the words would permeate our souls, so that, when correctly explained, it all holds together, strengthening our souls.

Furthermore, there is no reason for this to be confined only to the psalms.

 

One of the things which ought to be striking is, so much of the Bible has never been fully exegeted, word by word, phrase by phrase, so that, when you step away from such a study, you understand most of what God the Holy Spirit intends for you to know. I read through a number of commentaries while working on Psalm 51, and they had very little to offer. Even R. B. Thieme, Jr.’s treatment of this psalm was far too brief. For those of you who recognize the importance of the Word of God and have a desire to study and write about it, realize that there are great portions of the Bible which have never been fully laid out and explained. For one or two who might be reading this, you ought to feel like a hiker standing before Mount Everest. Explaining all that is found in the Old Testament is a great and marvelous challenge. For me, if God permits, I might be able to complete the historical books, up to a point; and maybe the writings of David and Solomon. However, as much as I desire, I know that it is highly unlikely that I will be able to put any sort of a dent in the prophets—and no one has ever fully explained all of Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. There is so much ground yet to be plowed.


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Psalm 51 Inscription

 

It ought to be pointed out that the inscription is considered to be part of the psalm, although it is not clear when these inscriptions were added. Did the writer himself add these notes? Did someone, perhaps years later, add these inscriptions. Our earliest manuscripts are the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were in a library about 100 b.c. (so the writings may have been written 100 or more years earlier). Since the inscriptions are found during this time, we have no idea if they were added after the fact or not.


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

To the preeminent one; a psalm to David. In a coming unto him Nathan the prophet as which he went unto Bathsheba.

Psalm

51 inscription

To the preeminent one; a psalm to David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him because he went unto Bathsheba.

For the choir director; a psalm by David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had illicit sex with Bathsheba.


Here is how others have translated this verse:

 

Ancient texts:                       Note: I compare the Hebrew text to English translations of the Latin, Syriac and Greek texts, using the Douay-Rheims translation Footnote ; George Lamsa’s translation, and Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton’s translation as revised and edited by Paul W. Esposito, respectively. I often update these texts with non-substantive changes (e.g., you for thou, etc.). I often use the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible instead of Brenton’s translation, because it updates the English text.

 

The Septuagint was the earliest known translation of a book (circa 200 b.c.). Since this translation was made before the textual criticism had been developed into a science and because different books appear to be translated by different men, the Greek translation can sometimes be very uneven.

 

When there are serious disparities between my translation and Brenton’s (or the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible), I look at the Greek text of the Septuagint (the LXX) to see if a substantive difference actually exists (and I reflect these changes in the English rendering of the Greek text). I use the Greek LXX with Strong’s numbers and morphology available for e-sword. The only problem with this resource (which is a problem for similar resources) is, there is no way to further explore Greek verbs which are not found in the New Testament.

 

The Masoretic text is the Hebrew text with all of the vowels (vowel points) inserted (the original Hebrew text lacked vowels). We take the Masoretic text to be the text closest to the original. However, differences between the Masoretic text and the Greek, Latin and Syriac are worth noting and, once in a great while, represent a more accurate text possessed by those other ancient translators.

 

In general, the Latin text is an outstanding translation from the Hebrew text into Latin and very trustworthy (I say this as a non-Catholic). Unfortunately, I do not read Latin—apart from some very obvious words—so I am dependent upon the English translation of the Latin (principally, the Douay-Rheims translation).

 

Underlined words indicate differences in the text.

 

Bracketed portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls are words, letters and phrases lost in the scroll due to various types of damage. Underlined words or phrases are those in the Dead Sea Scrolls but not in the Masoretic text.

 

Latin Vulgate                          Unto the end, a psalm of David,

When Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had sinned with Bethsabee.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        To the preeminent one; a psalm to David. In a coming unto him Nathan the prophet as which he went unto Bathsheba.

Septuagint (Greek)                For the end, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, when he had gone in to Bathsheba.

 

Significant differences:           As has been seen in other psalms, there is a great deal of difference in the first few words of the Latin and Greek as compared to the Hebrew. Apart from this, there is little difference in the rest of the inscription.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       (For the music leader. A psalm by David when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had been with Bathsheba.)

Easy English (Pocock)           A New Man

(This is) for the music leader.

(It is) a psalm of David.

(It was) when the *prophet Nathan came to him.

(It was) after (David) had sex with Bathsheba.

New Century Version             A Prayer for Forgiveness

 

For the director of music. A psalm of David when the prophet Nathan came to David after David's sin with Bathsheba..

New Living Translation           For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          To the director; A Psalm of David when the Prophet Nathan came to him over his taking BathSheba the wife of UriAh.

Ancient Roots Translinear      To the conductor. A psalm David brought from Nathan the prophet for his coming into Bathsheba.

God’s Word                         For the choir director; a psalm by David when the prophet Nathan came to him after David's adultery with Bathsheba.

New American Bible              For the leader. A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after his affair with Bathsheba.

New Simplified Bible              ([[Psalm of David] when the prophet Nathan came to him after David's adultery with Bathsheba:])

Revised English Bible            For the leader: a psalm: for David (when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had taken Bathsheba).


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             To the chief music-maker. A Psalm. Of David. When Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bath-sheba.

 

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               For the leader. A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him [2Sam. 12] after he had come to Bathsheba.

Judaica Press Complete T.    For the conductor, a song of David. When Nathan the prophet came to him when he went to Bath-sheba.

NET Bible®                             For the music director; a psalm of David, written when Nathan the prophet confronted him after David's affair with Bathsheba [Heb "a psalm by David, when Nathan the prophet came to him when he had gone to Bathsheba."]. When it comes to making an actual material change to the text, the NET Bible® is pretty good about indicating this. Since most of these corrections will be clear in the more literal translations below and within the Hebrew exegesis itself, I will not continue to list every NET Bible® footnote.

NIV, ©2010                             For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David; when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.

Concordant Literal Version    A Davidic Psalm When Nathan the prophet came to him after he had come to Bath-sheba.

English Standard Version      To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

exeGeses companion Bible   To His Eminence; Psalm by David:

when Nathan the prophet comes to him,

after he went in to Bath Sheba.

Syndein                                  {Title} To the chief musician {natsach} of the Psalm {mizmowr} of David on the occasion when Nathan the prophet had gone to him when he had gone to Bathsheba.

A Voice in the Wilderness      [To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.]

Young’s Updated LT             To the Overseer. —A Psalm of David, in the coming in unto him of Nathan the prophet, when he has gone in unto Bath-Sheba.

 

The gist of this verse:          This psalm is written by David at the time that he sinned with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed. He handed the psalm over to the chief musician.


Psalm 51 inscription a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

nâtsach (נָצַח) [pronounced naw-TZAHKH]

to oversee, to supervise to be; preeminent, to be enduring; the Preeminent One

Piel participle with the definite article

Strong’s #5329 BDB #663

The Piel participle of nâtsach is given a wide variety of renderings: overseer (Young), the music leader (CEV), choir director (NASB, NLT), choirmaster (Owens), leader (NRSV, NEB, NAB) and chief musician (Rotherham).

Both the Greek and Latin have to the end instead.


Translation: To the Preeminent One;... As we have seen with the numerous translations above, no one is clear as to who this person is. This psalm could be dedicated to God, which is essentially how I have translated it; however, it could be designed to be conducted by the chief musician, which is how Rotherham understands it. Most translators assume that this is given over to the choir director or the conductor or the one in charge of those who sang.


We find this word as a Piel infinitive in 1Chron. 15:21 23:4 2Chron. 34:12 Ezra 3:8–9. 1Chron. 23:4 indicates that this does not have to be a supervisory position, as it reads: Of these [38,000 Levites], 24,000 were to oversee the work of the house of Yahweh; and 6000 were officers and judges. Quite obviously, you cannot have 24,000 chiefs and no Indians, these were all of the Levites assigned to work on the Temple (Ezra 3:8–9 finds this word used in this same way). However, the supervisory nature of this word seems to be clear in 1Chron. 15:21 2Chron. 34:12.


Unfortunately, the exact meaning of the lâmed preposition is also hard to determine. We find several psalms which are ascribed to David written to David; but the idea is, the psalm belongs to David. The lâmed preposition is used more often when something is given to someone else or something is for someone else, the chief meanings of the lâmed preposition. Despite the use of the lâmed preposition with David throughout the book of Psalms, I have taken this to me that this psalm is written for whomever this Preeminent person is.

 

Barnes comments on this portion of the inscription: This phrase in the title, “To the chief Musician,” occurs at the beginning of 53 psalms, and at the close of the hymn in Habak. 3:19. It is uniformly rendered “to the chief Musician,” and means that the psalm was intended for him, or was to be given to him, probably to regulate the manner of performing it. In no one instance does the title imply that he was the author. The word rendered “Chief Musician” is derived from [ a Hebrew word] properly meaning “to shine,” but not used in the Qal. In the Piel form it means to be conspicuous; to be over anything; to be chief; to be superintendent (2Chron. 2:2, 18 34:12) and then it means to lead in music. The meaning of the form used here, and in the other places where it occurs as a title to a psalm, is “Chief Musician,” or precentor; and the idea is, that the psalm is to be performed under his direction; or that the music is to be directed and adapted by him. Footnote


Even though we have the same preposition used here as we find used with David, when he is the author, the many times that this phrase is found in combination with the author’s name suggests more that there is a musical organization and that this song was delivered over to the Choirmaster (or conductor) of that organization to be sung and performed at various functions.

 

The NIV Study Bible has its opinion on this matter: [For the director of music is] probably a liturgical notation, indicating either that the psalm was to be added to he collection of works to be used by the director of music in Israel’s worship services, or that when the psalm was used in the temple worship, it was to be spoke [or, sung?] by the leader of the Levitical choir—or by the choir itself (see 1Chron. 23:4–5, 30 [Of the overseers over the works of the house of the Lord there were twenty-four thousand, and there were six thousand scribes and judges; and four thousand gatekeepers, and four thousand to praise the Lord with instruments which he made to praise the Lord...to stand in the morning to praise and give thanks to the Lord, and so in the evening] 25 [assignments are given to the sons of Korah, among others]). In this liturgical activity the Levites functioned as representatives of the worshiping congregation. Following their lead the people probably responded with “Amen” and “Praise the Lord” (Hallelujah); see 1Chron. 16:36 Neh. 5:13; compare 1Cor. 14:16 Rev. 5:14 7:12 19:4. Footnote


It is possible that, when David wrote this psalm and then gave it to one of the Levites who was in charge of the music of that time, that he read it and tried to hand the psalm back to David, saying, “I don’t know that such a public confession needs to be put out there.” However, God the Holy Spirit recognized that this information needed to be out there, so that we fully understand what David did and how God dealt with him.


Psalm 51 inscription b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

mizemôwr (מִזְמוֹר) [pronounced mizê-MOHR]

melody, song, poem, psalm

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #4210 BDB #274

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

Dâvid (דָּוִד); also Dâvîyd (דָּוִיד) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187


Translation: ...a psalm of David,... There are three different Hebrew words translated psalm; this is one of them which is found a little less than a third of the time. I’m not yet ready to differentiate between these three words, nor am I confident that there is an important lesson hidden in differentiating them.


What I would have expected to find is, by David, where the bêyth preposition is used. However, this is never the case. It is always the lâmed preposition + David. Perhaps the idea here is, this psalm is both written by David and it is for David, as a gift from God.


Psalm 51 inscription c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; among, in the midst of; at, by, near, on, before, in the presence of, upon; with; to, unto, upon, up to; in respect to, on account of; by means of, about, concerning

primarily a preposition of proximity; however, it has a multitude of functions

No Strong’s # BDB #88

When verbs in the infinitive construct are preceded by the bêyth preposition, be acts as a temporal conjunction; that is, in their being created = when they were created (Gen. 2:4); in their being in the field = when they were in the field (Gen. 4:8). Footnote

bôwʾ (בּוֹא) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Nâthân (נָתָן) [pronounced naw-THAWN]

given; one who is given; transliterated Nathan

masculine singular, proper noun

Strong’s #5416 BDB #681

nâbîyʾ (נָבִיא) [pronounced nawb-VEE]

spokesman, speaker, prophet

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong's #5030 BDB #611


Translation: ...when Nathan the prophet came unto him... This identifies exactly the time and place for this psalm. This is at the point that Nathan came to David. Now, this does not mean that he sat down and wrote this psalm in that instant; but, soon after Nathan left, after receiving his judgment, David then sat down and wrote this psalm.


As already mentioned, David’s sin is found in 2Sam. 11 (HTML) (PDF) and Nathan the prophet came to David in 2Sam. 12 (HTML) (PDF).


Psalm 51 inscription d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kaph or ke (כְּ) [pronounced ke]

like, as, just as; according to; about, approximately; combined with an infinitive, it can also take on the meaning as, often, when, as soon as

preposition of comparison or approximation

No Strong’s # BDB #453

ʾăsher (אֲֹשֶר) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who, whom

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

Together, kaʾăsher (כַּאֲשֶר) [pronounced kah-uh-SHER] means as which, as one who, as, like as, just as; because; according to what manner, in a manner as. Back in 1Sam. 12:8, I rendered this for example.

bôwʾ (בּוֹא) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Bathshebaʿ (בַּת־שֶבַע) [pronounced bahth-SHEH-bahģ]

daughter of an oath; transliterated Bathsheba

feminine singular proper noun

Strong’s #1339 BDB #124


Translation: ...because he went unto Bathsheba. David and Nathan spoke on several occasions. This psalm is written on the occasion when David went into Bathsheba (committed adultery with Bathsheba).


Even the inscriptions in poetry are a little unusual. I would have expected something other than as which here (which can be translated because); or the word after. However, what is important is, we know when this took place: when Nathan came to David after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.


——————————


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


David demands forgiveness for his sin


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

Show grace [to] me, O Elohim, as Your grace;

as an abundance of Your mercies, blot out my infractions.

Psalm

51:1

Show grace to me, O Elohim, according to Your graciousness;

according to the abundance of Your graciousness, blot out my transgressions.

Be gracious to me, O God, as You are gracious;

according to Your abundant graciousness, blot out my disobedience.


Here is how others have handled this verse:

 

Ancient texts:                       Note: I compare the Hebrew text to English translations of the Latin, Syriac and Greek texts, using the Douay-Rheims translation Footnote ; George Lamsa’s translation, and Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton’s translation as revised and edited by Paul W. Esposito, respectively. I often update these texts with non-substantive changes (e.g., you for thou, etc.). I often use the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible instead of Brenton’s translation, because it updates the English text.

 

The Septuagint was the earliest known translation of a book (circa 200 b.c.). Since this translation was made before the textual criticism had been developed into a science and because different books appear to be translated by different men, the Greek translation can sometimes be very uneven.

 

When there are serious disparities between my translation and Brenton’s (or the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible), I look at the Greek text of the Septuagint (the LXX) to see if a substantive difference actually exists (and I reflect these changes in the English rendering of the Greek text). I use the Greek LXX with Strong’s numbers and morphology available for e-sword. The only problem with this resource (which is a problem for similar resources) is, there is no way to further explore Greek verbs which are not found in the New Testament.

 

The Masoretic text is the Hebrew text with all of the vowels (vowel points) inserted (the original Hebrew text lacked vowels). We take the Masoretic text to be the text closest to the original. However, differences between the Masoretic text and the Greek, Latin and Syriac are worth noting and, once in a great while, represent a more accurate text possessed by those other ancient translators.

 

In general, the Latin text is an outstanding translation from the Hebrew text into Latin and very trustworthy (I say this as a non-Catholic). Unfortunately, I do not read Latin—apart from some very obvious words—so I am dependent upon the English translation of the Latin (principally, the Douay-Rheims translation).

 

Underlined words indicate differences in the text.

 

Bracketed portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls are words, letters and phrases lost in the scroll due to various types of damage. Underlined words or phrases are those in the Dead Sea Scrolls but not in the Masoretic text.

 

Latin Vulgate                          Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy. And according to the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my iniquity.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        Show grace [to] me, O Elohim, as Your grace;

as an abundance of Your mercies, blot out my infraction.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    HAVE mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my sins.

Septuagint (Greek)                Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your great mercy; and according to the multitude of Your compassions, blot out my transgression.

 

Significant differences:           Show grace is somewhat of an undated translation for have mercy. The second phrase is great grace [mercy] in the Latin and Greek; there is no such quantifier in the Hebrew.

 

Both the Latin and the Greek throw in the conjunction and, which is legitimate but not found in the Hebrew. The final word in the Hebrew and Syriac is in the plural; it is in the singular in the Latin and Greek.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       You are kind, God! Please have pity on me. You are always merciful! Please wipe away my sins.

Easy English (Churchyard)    Give *mercy to me, God, because of your kind love.

Because you have so much love, forget that I did not obey you.

Easy-to-Read Version            God, be merciful to me,

because of your great loving kindness,

because of your great mercy,

erase all my sins.

Good News Bible (TEV)         Be merciful to me, O God, because of your constant love. Because of your great mercy wipe away my sins!

New Century Version             God, be merciful to me

because you are loving.

Because you are always ready to be merciful,

wipe out all my wrongs.

New Life Bible                        O God, favor me because of Your loving-kindness. Take away my wrong-doing because of the greatness of Your loving-pity.

New Living Translation           Have mercy on me, O God,

because of your unfailing love.

Because of your great compassion,

blot out the stain of my sins.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Show mercy upon me O God, in Your abundant compassions. Wipe away my violation of Your Law; wash all my lawlessness away, and cleanse me of all my sins.

Ancient Roots Translinear      Grace me, God, in your mercy. With an abundance of your nurturing, wipe away my multiple transgressions.

God’s Word                         Have pity on me, O God, in keeping with your mercy. In keeping with your unlimited compassion, wipe out my rebellious acts.

New American Bible              Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness;

in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.

NIRV                                      God, show me your favor

in keeping with your faithful love.

Because your love is so tender and kind,

wipe out my lawless acts.

New Jerusalem Bible             Have mercy on me, O God, in your faithful love, in your great tenderness wipe away my offences;...

Revised English Bible            God, be gracious to me in your faithful love, in the fullness of your mercy blot out my misdeeds.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             Have pity on me, O God, in your mercy; out of a full heart, take away my sin.

 

HCSB                                     Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion.

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Have mercy upon me, O God,

as befits Your faithfulness;

in keeping with Your abundant compassion,

blot out my transgressions.

NET Bible®                             Have mercy on me, O God, because of [Or "according to."] your loyal love!

Because of [Or "according to."] your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts! [Traditionally "blot out my transgressions." Because of the reference to washing and cleansing in the following verse, it is likely that the psalmist is comparing forgiveness to wiping an object clean (note the use of the verb ????? (makhah) in the sense of "wipe clean; dry" in 2 Kgs 21:13; Prov 30:20; Isa 25:8). Another option is that the psalmist is comparing forgiveness to erasing or blotting out names from a register (see Exod 32:32-33). In this case one might translate, "erase all record of my rebellious acts."] When it comes to making an actual material change to the text, the NET Bible® is pretty good about indicating this. Since most of these corrections will be clear in the more literal translations below and within the Hebrew exegesis itself, I will not continue to list every NET Bible® footnote.

NIV, ©2010                             Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

blot out my transgressions.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Concordant Literal Version    Be gracious to me, O Elohim, according to Your benignity; According to Your many compassions wipe out my transgressions."

Context Group Version                    Be generous to me, O God, according to your family allegiance { Hebrew: hesed }: According to the multitude of your tender generosity { pl } blot out my transgressions.

English Standard Version      Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

exeGeses companion Bible   Grant me charism, O Elohim,

according to your mercy;

according to the abundance of your tender mercies

wipe out my rebellions:

LTHB                                     Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness, according to the multitude of Your tender mercies; blot out my transgressions.

NASB                                     Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of [Or I myself know] Your compassion [Or may be in the right] blot out my transgressions.

World English Bible                Have mercy on me, God, according to your loving kindness. According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.

Young’s Updated LT             Favour me, O God, according to Your kindness, According to the abundance of Your mercies, Blot out my transgressions.

 

The gist of this verse:          David demands that God be gracious to him and to blot out his transgressions.


Psalm 51:1a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

chânan (חָנַן) [pronounced khaw-NAHN]

show favor, show grace [as a superior would do on behalf of an inferior], show mercy, be gracious, be merciful

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative; with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #2603, #2589 BDB #335

ʾĚlôhîym (אלֹהִים) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

God; gods, foreign gods, god; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun

Strong's #430 BDB #43

kaph or ke (כְּ) [pronounced ke]

like, as, just as; according to; about, approximately; combined with an infinitive, it can also take on the meaning as, often, when, as soon as

preposition of comparison or approximation

No Strong’s # BDB #453

cheçed (חֶסֶד) [pronounced KHEH-sed]

grace, benevolence, mercy, kindness

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #2617 BDB #338


Translation: Show grace to me, O Elohim, according to Your graciousness;... David knows that he deserves death for what he has done. Both murder and adultery were punishable by death, and, even though David is the highest court in the land, he fully understood that God could take him out at any time.


You will not that David is not simply asking God to show him some grace; David is demanding that God be gracious to him. He uses the imperative mood here.


God is abundantly gracious and merciful. He is able to be merciful because Jesus Christ would die on the cross for all of David’s sins. David, on the basis of his knowledge of the Word of God, demands that God be merciful to him; he demands that God show him grace. With doctrine in your soul, you can demand that God treat you in grace—not because you deserve it (that would not be grace), but because Jesus Christ deserves it and we are in Christ.


Psalm 51:1b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kaph or ke (כְּ) [pronounced ke]

like, as, just as; according to; about, approximately; combined with an infinitive, it can also take on the meaning as, often, when, as soon as

preposition of comparison or approximation

No Strong’s # BDB #453

rôb (רֹב) [pronounced rohbv]

multitude, abundance, greatness

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #7230 BDB #913

rachămîym (רַחֲמִים) [pronounced rah-khuh-MEEM]

tender affections; pity, grace, favor; compassion, mercies

masculine plural noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #7356 BDB #933

mâchâh (מָחָה) [pronounced maw-KHAWH]

wipe, wipe out, blot out, obliterate, exterminate; completely blot out, completely obliterate, completely remove [something]

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong's #4229 BDB #562

peshaʿ (פֶּשַע) [pronounced PEH-shahģ]

violation, infraction, disobedience, insubordination, rebellion, transgression, trespass

masculine plural noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #6588 BDB #833


Translation: ...according to the abundance of Your graciousness, blot out my transgressions. God has an abundance of graciousness toward us. His justice is freed to show us graciousness. David, therefore, demands that God blot out his sin; his disobedience. Again, this is all predicated upon Jesus Christ dying for our sins on the cross.

 

The NET Bible writes: Traditionally "blot out my transgressions." Because of the reference to washing and cleansing in the following verse, it is likely that the psalmist is comparing forgiveness to wiping an object clean (note the use of the verb מָחָה (makhah) in the sense of "wipe clean; dry" in 2Kings 21:13 Prov. 30:20 Isa. 25:8). Another option is that the psalmist is comparing forgiveness to erasing or blotting out names from a register (see Ex. 32:32–33). In this case one might translate, "erase all record of my rebellious acts."  Footnote


It is unclear just exactly how much David understood about this. Old Testament believers understood that they were saved by faith in Jehovah Elohim. They understood that God is abundant in graciousness and would forgive their sins. David understands that he can demand God’s graciousness here; and he demands that God blot out his sin. However, I do not recall seeing much discussion of, how much did Old Testament saints know about why God is able to forgive them. After all, when you and I were saved, we have a very limited understanding of soteriology. I had never heard of limited versus universal atonement; in fact, at that point of my salvation, I did not even understand that Jesus was God. All I knew was, the Bible told me to believe in Him, and I did, and so I was saved.


Most believers today believe that spiritual giants, like David, understood the cross and what to expect when it came to the Messiah. I don’t think that he did. This should not be a difficult thing to understand. You know more today than you did a year ago; you have more Bible doctrine in your soul than you did a year ago. Throughout your Christian life, you came to understand this or that doctrine, this or that concept, which you did not understand before.


Theology speaks of progressive revelation, which means that, as time went on, more and more was revealed in the Bible. We know that progressive revelation speaks of our own lives. We certainly know much more today than we knew at salvation. Therefore, there is no reason to think that David fully understood all that he wrote or that he understood it in exactly the same way. We know that God is abundant in grace and that He will blot out the transgressions of David; furthermore, we know exactly why. We understand the doctrine of soteriology. There is no reason to assume that David personally, despite his spiritual maturity, understood all theological concepts.


Even though I have struggled with the overall structure of Psalm 51, it is clear that it is filled with distichs (two-line poetry, found mostly in Proverbs). Distich is pronounced DIHS-tihk (rhymes with mystic).

Psalm 51:1 as a Distich

Scripture

Text/Commentary

Show grace to me, O Elohim, according to Your graciousness;

In the first line, David is telling God to show him grace according to God’s Own graciousness.

according to the abundance of Your graciousness, blot out my transgressions.

In the second line, David ups the ante by telling God to blot out his transgressions.

This is called an integral distich, where the first line is not by itself sufficient to express the thought, so the truth under consideration is completed by the addition of the second line. Footnote The common theme here is God’s graciousness, where David first demands God’s grace, and then demands that his transgressions be blotted out. .

We will see that much of this psalm is composed of distichs.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


The verb to blot out is mâchâh (מָחָה) [pronounced maw-KHAWH], which means, to wipe [out], to [completely] blot out, to [completely] obliterate, to exterminate; completely remove [something]. Strong's #4229 BDB #562. The imperative mood means that David demands that God blot out his sins. This is quite a bold statement for someone who has taken the wife of one of his soldiers and ravished her, and then had her husband killed. This is the very same verb that is used when God promised to blot out man, whom He had created, with the flood (Gen. 6:7 7:4, 22–23). We have Moses and God using this word, when talking about Israel fashioning false golden gods in Ex. 32:32–33 and Deut. 9:13–16. However, David uses this word twice in this psalm calling for God to blot out his sins (Psalm 51:1, 9). Isaiah speaks of this as well in Isa. 25:8 43:25 44:22. This word is also used to refer to blotting one’s name out of the Book of Life (Psalm 69:28).


The blotting out of our sins, as David calls for here, is updated in Col. 2:13–14 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. It is because of the cross that God can set these sins aside—this great debt which is against us.


In both halves of v. 1, David uses the imperative mood with God. Show grace to me, O God...blot out my transgressions. We can demand that God act within the confines of His essence and character. David understands that he may demand these things of God.


We understand today exactly why we are able to demand that God be gracious to us and blot out our sins—because we are in Christ. God sees us and He sees His Son; it is not because we have been extra, extra holy this past week, but because we are in the Beloved. The key to all of this is, we are in the Beloved; we are in Christ.

In the Beloved (In Christ)

1.      Eph. 1:5–6 reads: He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.

2.      The key to our salvation is going from being in Adam to being in Christ. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive (1Cor. 15:22).

3.      The phrase in Christ can also be used to indicate salvation. Rom. 16:7 Gal. 1:22 Eph. 2:13 Philip. 1:1 4:21 Col. 1:2

4.      On occasion, being in Christ can simply refer to being in fellowship. Philemon 20

5.      God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation (2Cor. 5:19). This is a different use of being in Christ. God being in Christ indicates that God functioned through Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to Him. See also Eph. 4:32

6.      Therefore, our salvation is in Christ Jesus. 2Tim. 2:10

7.      We are a new creation because we are in Christ. 2Cor. 5:17

8.      Our redemption (the payment for our sins) is because we are in Christ. Rom. 3:24

9.      We are sanctified because we are in Christ. 1Cor. 1:2

10.    We are justified because we are in Christ. Gal. 2:17

11.    God and Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places because we are in Christ. Eph. 1:3

12.    Our sonship is based upon being in Christ. Gal. 3:26

13.    God’s grace is given to us because we are in Him. 1Cor. 1:4 2Tim. 2:1

14.    Our ability to live without sin, for periods of time, and live unto God, is based upon us being in Christ. Rom. 6:11

15.    We have eternal life because we are in Christ. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23).

16.    We are not condemned because we are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:1

17.    We have freedom because we are in Christ. Gal. 2:4

18.    Part of the mystery of the Church Age is that Gentiles would be in Christ. Eph. 3:6

19.    Therefore, there are no social, racial and gender distinctions because we are in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28 5:6

20.    We can no more be separated from the love of God now any more than Jesus Christ could again be separated from God. Rom. 8:39

21.    But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere (2Cor. 2:14). We are on display as believers at all times before the angels of God, and God spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him through us.

22.    In the Christian life, we function as individuals and as part of a team because we are in Christ. Rom. 12:5

23.    Being in Christ does not mean that we are automatically mature believers. At salvation, we are infants in Christ. 1Cor. 3:1

24.    Paul speaks of himself as the father of the Corinthians in Christ. This means that, he provided them guidance and teaching, first taking his authority from the fact that he led them to the Lord. 1Cor. 4:15

25.    There is a love between believers because we are all in Christ. 1Cor. 16:24

26.    God has designed us to live within His plan after we are saved. He created us in Christ for good works. Eph. 2:10 Col. 1:28

27.    We have a spiritual life which is free from sin and death because we are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:2

28.    However, there will be difficulties and persecutions if we pursue a Godly life in Him. 2Tim. 3:12

29.    Believers who die, die in Christ, meaning that they go to be with Him. 1Cor. 15:18 2Tim. 1:1

30.    This means rewards for some. 1Peter 5:10

31.    We are raised up and seated in the heavenlies because we are in Christ. Eph. 2:6 1Thess. 4:16

All of this information is made clear in the Church Age, and it is more information that David, a man after God’s Own heart, possessed.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Our passage reads: Show grace to me, O Elohim, according to Your graciousness; according to the abundance of Your graciousness, blot out my transgressions. David is making a demand here upon God. He is not promising to be better; he is not promising to make this up to God, he is not doing any penance; he demands grace from God based upon the fact that God is rich in grace. David is offering no trade-out here. If you forgive me, God, then I will move the Tabernacle to Jerusalem; I will set aside more time each day for prayers and supplication. At no time does David ask for God’s forgiveness based upon something which David can do; it is all based upon what God is able to do; it is based upon God’s abundant graciousness.


Similarly, David’s demand of God’s graciousness is not based upon previous good works. At no time does David say, “God, quite obviously, I have failed you; but I’m only human, and look at the great things I have done on Your behalf in my previous years.” God’s forgiveness is never based upon what we do—whether it is something that we promise to do in the future or whether it is some series of works which we have accomplished in the past. According to the abundance of Your graciousness, blot out my transgressions.


Psalm 51:1 reads: Show grace to me, O Elohim, according to Your graciousness; according to the abundance of Your graciousness, blot out my transgressions.

Psalm 51:1 and Parallel Passages

1.      God’s compassion and graciousness goes back to eternity, meaning that these are integral parts of God’s character. Remember, O Jehovah, Your compassion and Your graciousness; for they are from eternity (Psalm 25:6).

2.      God’s ability and willingness to separate us from our sins is repeated throughout the Old Testament. Do not remember the sins of my youth, or my transgressions: According to  your graciousness remember me, according to Your good purposes, O Yehowah (Psalm 25:7). See also Num. 14:19 Micah 7:18–19.

3.      God will blot out our transgressions. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and will not remember your sins.” (Isa. 43:25). “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins: return to me; for I have redeemed you.” (Isa. 44:22). See also Col. 2:14

4.      God’s grace is both an Old and New Testament theme. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, “The LORD, The LORD God, is compassionate, gracious and patient, and abundant in grace and truth.” (Ex. 34:6). See also Num. 14:18–19 Psalm 109:21 119:124 145:9 Isa. 63:7 Dan. 9:18 Rom. 5:20–21 Eph. 1:6–8.

5.      It was understood by many Old Testament believers that God’s grace could be demanded, because it is integral to His character. Answer me, O Yahweh; for Your graciousness is good: According to the multitude of Your compassions turn to me (Psalm 69:19). See also Psalm 25:6–7 109:21.

6.      This grace and mercy is based upon our Lord dying for our sins on the cross. But even though we were dead in our sins God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, gave us life together with Christ - it is, remember, by grace and not by achievement that you are saved - and has lifted us right out of the old life to take our place with him in Christ in the Heavens. Thus he shows for all time the tremendous generosity of the grace and kindness he has expressed towards us in Christ Jesus. It was nothing you could or did achieve - it was God's gift to you. No one can pride himself upon earning the love of God. The fact is that what we are we owe to the hand of God upon us. We are born afresh in Christ, and born to do those good deeds which God planned for us to do (Eph. 2:4–10).

That David demands for God to grant him grace and to completely forgive him is important to keep in mind throughout this psalm and the narrative of 2Sam. 11–12. David did understand that he could receive complete and total forgiveness from God.

These passages were suggested by Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge; by Canne, Browne, Blayney, Scott, and others about 1880, with introduction by R. A. Torrey; courtesy of E-sword, Psalm 51:1.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


——————————


Increase wash me from my iniquity;

and, from my sin, cleanse me.

Psalm

51:2

Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity [or, depraved action];

and, from my sin, cleanse me.

Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        Increase wash me from my iniquity; and, from my sin, cleanse me.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Septuagint (Greek)                Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

 

Significant differences:           None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       Wash me clean from all of my sin and guilt.

Easy English (Churchyard)    Wash me (from the bad feeling that I have)

because of the bad thing that I did.

Make me clean from all my *sin.

Easy-to-Read Version            God, scrub away my guilt.

Wash away my sins,

Make me clean again!

Good News Bible (TEV)         Wash away all my evil and make me clean from my sin!

The Message                         Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry.

New Century Version             Wash away all my guilt

and make me clean again.

New Life Bible                        Wash me inside and out from my wrong-doing and make me clean from my sin.

New Living Translation           Wash me clean from my guilt.

Purify me from my sin.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          ...wash all my lawlessness away, and cleanse me of all my sins.

God’s Word                         Wash me thoroughly from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.

NIRV                                      Wash away all of the evil things I've done.

Make me pure from my sin.

New Jerusalem Bible             ...wash me clean from my guilt, purify me from my sin.

New Simplified Bible              Wash me thoroughly from my perversity (iniquity) (guilt), and cleanse me from my sin.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Launder me for my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Bible in Basic English             Let all my wrongdoing be washed away, and make me clean from evil.

Judaica Press Complete T.    Wash me thoroughly of my iniquity, and purify me of my sin.

NET Bible®                             Wash away my wrongdoing! [Heb "Thoroughly wash me from my wrongdoing."]

Cleanse me of my sin! [In vv. 1b-2 the psalmist uses three different words to emphasize the multifaceted character and degree of his sin. Whatever one wants to call it ("rebellious acts," "wrongdoing," "sin"), he has done it and stands morally polluted in God's sight. The same three words appear in Exod 34:7, which emphasizes that God is willing to forgive sin in all of its many dimensions. In v. 2 the psalmist compares forgiveness and restoration to physical cleansing. Perhaps he likens spiritual cleansing to the purification rites of priestly law.]

NIV – UK                                Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin!

Concordant Literal Version    Rinse me abundantly from my depravity, And from my sin cleanse me."

Context Group Version                    Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my disgrace..

exeGeses companion Bible   launder me aboundingly from my perversity

and purify me from my sin:

LTHB                                     Wash me completely from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

NASB                                     Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity [Psalm 51:2 : Ps 51:7; Is 1:16; 4:4; Jer 4:14; Acts 22:16; Rev 1:5]

And cleanse me from my sin [Psalm 51:2 : Jer 33:8; Ezek 36:33; Heb 9:14; 1 John 1:7, 9].

Young's Updated LT              Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity, And from my sin cleanse me.

 

The gist of this verse:          . The psalmist demands that God cleanse him completely.


Psalm 51:2a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

râbâh (רָבָה) [pronounced rawb-VAWH]

to make [do] much; to multiply, to increase; to give much; to lay much; to have much; to make great; many [as a Hiphil infinitive construct]

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperative

Strong’s #7235 BDB #915

The Hiphil infinitive absolute is often used as an adverb: in doing much, very much, exceedingly great (the latter two with the adverb meʾôd).

kâbaç (כָּבַס) [pronounced kaw-BAHÇ]

wash [by treading], wash; trample with the feet

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative; with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #3526 BDB #460

min (מִן) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

ʿâvôwn (עָווֹן) [pronounced ģaw-VOHN]

iniquity, crime, offense, transgression, depraved action, guilt, punishment from wrongdoing

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5771 BDB #730


Translation: Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity [or, depraved action];... This is the second verb which David employs to demand that God remove all the wrongdoing that David has done; and the second noun which stands for his wrongdoing.


There are actually 2 imperatives here, the first being very difficult to translate. However, the first verb is used often as an intensifier. Most translators render this as an adverb: thoroughly, completely, wholly. When all is said and done, David’s sin (iniquity, depraved act) is completely washed away. Again, this is an imperative, so David demands that God do this.


This is a thorough and complete cleansing. David is asking for more than just forgiveness here; he wants a cleansing so thorough that he is no longer the man who took Bathsheba in an act of passion and then killed her husband. It took David some time to get to that point, where he was that man. It will take him a long time to thoroughly recover from being that man.


To understand this point, you have to understand just exactly what has happened to David. R. B. Thieme, Jr. calls it the interlocking systems of arrogance. David stepped through a door of the interlocking systems of arrogance and has become corrupted by several of the categories of sin within the interlocking systems of arrogance. This was given a thorough examination in 2Sam. 11 (HTML) (PDF). David is looking for more than simple forgiveness. He recognizes just how far his sin nature has taken him; just how trapped in sin that he has become.


Also discussed in that chapter are degeneracy sins and how they trapped David. His volition was certainly involved, but these are sins which are pleasurable, which require less temptation and less volition each successive time these sins are committed (e.g., drug addiction, alcoholism, sexual addiction, homosexual acts).


A friend of mine was a functioning alcoholic—so much so that, few of us knew this. He told me that one weekend, there was this great sale on beer, and he bought cases and cases of it, thinking that, this would give him enough beer to last for a few months. Then he drank most of it over that weekend. At that point, he realized just how addicted that he had become.


Homosexuals are involved in acts that few of us can imagine, with such great rapidity, that it is staggering. It is not unusual for a lifelong homosexual to have thousands of sexual partners. It is truly a life of addiction.


The repetition of these sins changes a person. The person who binge drinks on the weekend becomes transformed when he begins to get drunk every day. The person who engages in a homosexual act now and again is changed when he begins to seek this out several times daily. David had become changed in this tremendous lust that he had for women and he demanded that God thoroughly wash him of his depravity.


Psalm 51:2b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

min (מִן) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

chaţţâʾth (חַטָּאת) [pronounced khat-TAWTH]

misstep, slip of the foot; sin; sinfulness; a sin-offering; penalty, calamity, misfortune

feminine singular noun with a 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #2403 BDB #308

ţâhêr (טָהֵר) [pronounced taw-HAIR

cleanse [clean] [physically, ceremonially, morally]; purify; pronounce [declare] clean; perform a ritual ceremony of cleansing

3rd person masculine singular, Piel imperative; with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #2891 BDB #372


Translation: ...and, from my sin, cleanse me. We have a 3rd word for sin and another imperative verb which means, more or less, cleanse, purify. The idea of using 3 verbs and 3 different words for sin, indicate that, David fully understood that he could demand that God completely separate him from his sin, as we, in a bath or shower, are completely separated from our filth.


Again, this verse is a distich.

Psalm 51:2 as a Synonymous Distich

Scripture

Text/Commentary

Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity [or, depraved action];

Sin is often portrayed as a form of uncleanness or as filth, and David demands that God cleans him from this filth (iniquity).

and, from my sin, cleanse me.

A second verb is used which means to cleanse, to purify; along with a second word for wrongdoing. Again, as an imperative, David demands that God cleanse him.

This verse is a synonymous distich; the second line repeats the thought of the first in a somewhat altered form in order to express the thought as clearly and exhaustively as possible. Footnote

Psalm 51:1–2:

Show grace to me, O Elohim, according to Your graciousness;

according to the abundance of Your graciousness, blot out my transgressions.

Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity [or, depraved action];

and, from my sin, cleanse me.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


In these 2 verses, David has used 3 words for sin. These same 3 words are used in Ex. 34:6–7 Yehowah passed before him and proclaimed, "Yehowah, Yehowah, God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in grace and faithfulness, guarding grace for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation."


We understand all of the reasons behind this cleansing. Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross and it is upon this basis we are forgiven for the many sins we have committed and will commit. David depends upon the same basis for his forgiveness—Jesus Christ died for his sins and David could demand that God forgive him of even these most heinous sins, because it is based upon the cross. However, it is not clear that David understand this basis. It is not clear that any Old Testament saint clearly understood the basis of God’s abundant graciousness. In fact, to be quite frank, there are a considerable number of believers today who do not get it—who think that, when it comes to obtaining the forgiveness of sins, that they have something to add to this process—great welling tears of repentance and a sincere heart. However, our sins are forgiven eternally and in time based upon our Lord taking these sins upon His Own body on the cross and taking the punishment which we so thoroughly deserve.


God provides us with salvation for free—we simply trust in Him, in Jehovah Elohim, in Jesus Christ, the 2nd member of the Trinity. There is no merit in this trust, because anyone can believe anything. All of the merit is in Jesus Christ and His substitutionary death.


There are simple mechanics for forgiveness of sin in time, which puts us back into fellowship. David clearly understood the means of salvation and he clearly understood the means for temporal forgiveness of sins. I know my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned (Psalm 51:3–4a). In time, David is restored to fellowship with God by admitting his sins to God (2Sam. 12:13 Psalm 32:5 51:3–4). He understood this, just as he understood that he was saved by means of faith in Jehovah Elohim (Psalm 2:12 5:4 13:5). However, there was a lot that David did not understand. We have the full picture, from where we sit, having the completed canon of Scripture. David’s Bible was perhaps 300 pages, to which he added a hundred pages or so himself. So, even though we can study Gen. 22 and see that this is all about Jesus going to the cross, it is quite another story to say that David understood this in the same way.


David obviously understood that God would completely and thoroughly cleanse him from all unrighteousness, to the point that, David thrice demands that God completely separate him from his sins; that God completely and thoroughly wash him of his filth. Therefore, in the light of progressive revelation, just how much of that did David fully understand?

What Did David (and Other Saints) Know About God’s Forgiveness?

1.      All Old Testament saints understood that, they were saved by believing in Jehovah Elohim. They understood this from Gen. 15:6, where Abram had believed in God, and that was credited to him as righteousness.

2.      Believers today understand, to whatever degree, that faith in Christ results in their salvation. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

3.      Just as believers today have an incomplete knowledge of soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) at the point of salvation, believers in the Old Testament also had an incomplete knowledge of soteriology for their entire lives (obviously, this can be true of believers today, who choose not to grow spiritually).

4.      How much David knew is closely related to the topic of progressive revelation. Progressive revelation means that, each additional truth builds upon, expands, and better explains that which was already taught. New revelation does not supercede, replace or nullify previous revelation, but builds upon that which is past and that which is foundational.

5.      The question I am asking is, what did David know at the time that he wrote this psalm?

6.      David knew enough here to demand that God cleanse him of his sin and purify him of his iniquity. He demanded that God blot out his wrongdoing. This is very strong. However, this knowledge requires some Bible doctrine. That is, a person could do nothing more than believe in Jehovah Elohim in that day and be saved, and yet not fully understand that he could demand God remove his sin from him.

         1)      As an aside, this can be true of a believer today. Believers today commit sins which shock them, throw them completely off their game, and they spend the rest of their lives nurturing a guilt complex.

7.      God said through Isaiah: "Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isa. 1:18). This should sound like a thorough cleansing to you, just as Psalm 51:1–2 describe a complete and thorough cleansing.

8.      So, believers in the Old and New Testaments—particularly new or immature believers—may not fully grasp just how completely separated God will make us from our sins or why He is able to do this (apart from the fact that He is God).

9.      David and Isaiah are mature believers and so, they obviously understand this to a limited degree. Not every believer fully gets it, however.

10.    When Jesus Christ died for our sins, only John the Apostle and a few others actually stood beneath the cross. The rest of the disciples scattered in fear.

11.    Even John did not fully understood that Jesus had died for his sins on the cross and would be raised from the dead at that time. When he went to the tomb of our Lord, a few days later, he was excited to find the Jesus had been raised from the dead.

12.    Since the other disciples scattered when Jesus was taken, it was clear that, even if they understood that Jesus was going to the cross, and that this was an integral part of God’s plan (which Jesus taught), they either did not believe it or they did not understand it.

13.    Although it is difficult to get into the minds of 10 disciples, it seems apparent by Peter’s denials that Jesus dying on the cross for our sins did not enter into his thinking. He never seemed to stop to entertain this theological point, even though Jesus taught that His going to the cross was inevitable and a part of God’s plan. Matt. 16:21–23

14.    So, in the case of the disciples, this theological point was not believed by 11 of them, and so, this did not enter into their thinking when Jesus was taken.

15.    Subsequently, in later years, John began to recall the things that Jesus said and to put them all together (see, for instance, John 2:22).

16.    Therefore, if the disciples, who were with Jesus day and night for over 3 years; who listened to Him prophesy concerning His death and resurrection, did not get that He would die for our sins and then be raised, then who in the Old Testament fully understood this?

17.    Therefore, we can reasonably assume that few, if anyone, in the Old Testament understood all that the Savior-Messiah would do.

18.    No one standing below Jesus at the cross, said, “This is just like Isa. 53!” This was understood later.

19.    Therefore, David certainly understood that he was saved by faith in Jehovah Elohim; and he understood that he could demand, from God, a cleansing of sin. However, it is doubtful that David fully understood that Jesus would come and die for our sins.

20.    Many in the Old Testament—believers and unbelievers alike—understood that Messiah would come. However, it is not clear that Old Testament believers understood much more than this about the Messiah to come.

21.    In the Old Testament, the 1st and 2nd Advents of our Lord were often portrayed as one event. See the Doctrine of Intercalation (HTML) (PDF).

22.    Therefore, when Jesus the Messiah came in His 1st Advent, this confused many people who expected that, if He came at that time, He would throw off the yoke of the Romans as a conquering hero.

23.    I don’t believe that anyone of the Old Testament fully understood the suffering Servant passage of Isa. 53 (or Psalm 22 or Gen. 22). In retrospect, we as believers see how these passages and the 1st Advent of our Lord fit together like a glove. However, I do not think Old Testament saints fully understood this. For further parallels of Psalm 22, see David’s Suffering in Psalm 22 Parallels Jesus Christ on the Cross.

24.    This is great evidence of the divine nature of the Scripture: that human authors could write about things which they knew or had experienced, and yet for the Holy Spirit to give these exact same words a complete other meaning, which is clear 1000 years later, but not to the very author who wrote those words.

25.    Similarly, they did not, in any way, differentiate the 1st and 2nd Advents, which, to them, was just one event.

26.    There is irrefutable evidence of this lack of knowledge in the New Testament.

         1)      A year or so into Jesus public ministry, and John the Baptizer dispatches some of his disciples to speak to Jesus and ask Him if He is the Messiah, or if they should look for another. This is sometime after John meets Jesus and baptizes Him. Matt. 11:2–6

         2)      Not too long before the cross, after nearly 3 years of intensive teaching, Jesus tells Peter that He is going to the cross, and Peter says, “Don’t let this come to pass!” Our salvation is based upon the cross, so no matter how horrendous this event is to human history, it is central to our faith. Matt. 16:21–23

         3)      When Jesus went to the cross, most of His disciples scattered, running away from Him. Peter even denied knowing Him and being a disciple. So, within 24 hours of the cross, His disciples did not understand its necessity. Matt. 26:31–35, 58, 69–75

27.    My conclusion here is, even though David understood that God could and would thoroughly cleanse him of his sins, David did not fully understand why God is able to do this, beyond being abundant in graciousness (Psalm 51:1 103:8).

I don’t know if anyone has ever taught before what Old Testament saints knew and did not know.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Clearly, Satan is a super-genius, and 1000X smarter than any of the disciples on their best days. However, it is my hypothesis that he did not understand the function of the cross before it happened.

What Satan Did not Understand

1.      It is my contention, and this is one of the few areas where I depart from many theologians, that even Satan, in his great genius, was not fully able to grasp what the cross was all about, despite the fact that Jesus taught his suffering on the cross was inevitable, even calling Peter, Satan, for suggesting that He not go to the cross.

2.      Satan was instrumental in getting our Lord to the cross. In order for Jesus to be identified, Satan had to enter into Judas and point Jesus out to the religious types who took Him. If Satan understood the cross and how this would break his back, my thinking is, he would do everything to keep Jesus from being crucified.

3.      In other words, Satan, who is a far greater genius than any person who has ever lived, who knew the Old Testament from cover to cover, who heard our Lord teach about his crucifixion, did not get it. He did not understand what the cross was all about.

4.      It is reasonable to pose the question, how can Satan, a super-genius, be aware of all that Jesus taught, and yet be instrumental in getting Jesus to the cross? Hatred. Satan’s mental attitude sins were so blinding, that He did not put 2 and 2 together until the cross happened.

5.      At some point during or after all of the trials, Satan may have begun to understand; but at that point, the die had been cast and there was nothing that he could do to stop it.

6.      God brought the thick darkness over the cross for several reasons—to hide the humiliation of His Son but also to retain the continuity of the punishment. This darkness was so thick, even the demons could not penetrate it; even the demons could not see it. Therefore, they were unable to stop God’s judgment of our sins while Jesus was on the cross.

7.      Recall that God the Holy Spirit has made spiritual information available to believers which is not available to unbelievers. An unbeliever cannot study the Bible and understand much beyond the basics. An unbeliever can sit in a doctrinal church and not understand much beyond the basics either.

8.      Therefore, why should Satan be any different? Why should we expect him to be able to put Scripture together better than a believer with doctrine?

9.      As a result, God used Satan to seal his own doom. Satan was not smart enough to see this coming.

Again, this is an opinion and, insofar as I know, not only is this opinion not widely held, but I am unaware of any theologian who has ever taught this. This is a tertiary doctrine, and I am unsure as to how this affects a great many other doctrines, and, if presented with proof to the contrary, I would back off from this point of view (which is true of pretty much anything I have written—Let God be true and every man a liar). However, I include this doctrine, which I believe is a reasonable and logical conclusion. That is, in the greatest conflict of all time, Satan himself unknowingly participated in the events of the cross, which is our deliverance from sin and death, and therefore, our deliverance from Satan.

There is an invisible conflict in which we play a part, known as the Angelic Conflict (HTML) (PDF). Angels learn from this, and the lesson they would understand is, despite Satan’s great genius, his intelligence is nothing compared to the intelligence of God. Logically, if angels are observing all of this human drama and learning from it, that presupposes that there are things which they do not know about God’s character and plan that they learn. Therefore, it is much more logical for a full understanding of Jesus to come with time. So, angels can look over Isaiah’s shoulder as he writes Isa. 53 and not fully understand what Isaiah is writing. However, when we come to the cross of Christ, then it all begins to fit together for these angels; and later, for us as men.


Chapter Outline

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As believers in the Church Age, we have access to everything that we need to know about our place in the Angelic Conflict. It does not come to us all at once, and it is a day-by-day, lifetime of learning. It is the completion of the canon of Scripture which is a part of our individual impact as believers, because, in this stage of human history, we all play a part in God’s plan.


There are 2 authors for any passage of Scripture: the human author and the Divine Author, God the Holy Spirit. For this reason, it is not a great leap to reason that, there are times when the human author has one thing in mind when he writes, but God the Holy Spirit has something entirely different in mind.

The Dual Authorship of the Holy Scriptures

1.      The Bible is clearly a book written by man. These authors often affixed their names to what they wrote: Prov. 1:1 2Trim. 1:1–2 Rev. 1:1–2

         1)      There are times when we are fairly certain of the authorship of this or that person, e.g., Luke for the book of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles or Moses for the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. However, in those books, we do not find a phrase like, “I, Luke, wrote this history of Jesus Christ.”

         2)      There are some books whose authorship is unknown, like the book of Hebrews or the book of Ruth. However, we have accepted these books as canonical.

                  (1)     As an aside, I suspect that the book of Hebrews was written by a gentile, and therefore, his name was not affixed to the book; and that the bulk of Ruth was written by Ruth (apart from the genealogy at the end) and her name was not given because, men had a difficult time with female authorship.

2.      The other author of Holy Writ is the Holy Spirit. The prophets did not think these things up on their own, but they were guided by the Spirit of God (2Peter 1:21; Contemporary English Version). It was never man's impulse, after all, that gave us prophecy; men gave it utterance, but they were men whom God had sanctified, carried away, as they spoke, by the Holy Spirit (2Peter 1:21; Knox NT). No prophecy ever originated from humans. Instead, it was given by the Holy Spirit as humans spoke under God's direction (2Peter 1:21; God’s Word).

         1)      See the Short Doctrine of Inspiration (HTML) (PDF).

         2)      See the Study of Inspiration (HTML) (PDF).

         3)      The Doctrine of Inspiration (HTML) (PDF).

3.      When an author writes something, he often has a purpose for writing. This may not be some high and lofty purpose—it may be for money or for propaganda—but he has a reason for writing what he does.

         1)      In Gen. 22, where Abraham nearly offers up his son Isaac as a human sacrifice to God, this incident is recorded either by Abraham or by Isaac, and they were simply presenting the historical event of Abraham’s obedience to God in offering up his uniquely-born son to God.

         2)      However, God the Holy Spirit writes this passage with the intention of teaching the gospel and providing a shadow image of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

4.      Therefore, when we study Scripture—particularly the Old Testament—we must be mindful that, the human author is often saying one thing, whereas the Divine Author is teaching us something else.

5.      As a result, human authors, like David, could write Psalm 22, about a very difficult and painful period in his life, and yet not realize that, this foreshadowed His Savior on the cross.

6.      Related to this is the idea that, David here can demand God’s forgiveness and a complete washing away of his sins, yet not fully understand the basis for God’s ability for forgive him.

7.      These are doctrines which are built up and progressively revealed throughout the Bible. Again, progressive revelation builds truth upon truth; each additional truth builds upon, expands, and better explains that which was already taught. New revelation does not supercede, replace or nullify previous revelation, but is founded upon that which is past and upon that which is foundational.

8.      This is one reason that dual authorship is so important. Abraham and David, in Gen. 22 and in Psalm 22, respectively, did not fully realize what it was that they were teaching. They were recording events in their own lives. God the Holy Spirit, Who knows the end from the beginning, understood the big picture, and uses these passages to reveal to us our Lord on the cross.

9.      Therefore, not every believer in the Old Testament understood soteriology in its entirety. What they did not know or understand, God the Holy Spirit was still able to reveal.

10.    In fact, this information is revealed so well in Gen. 22, Psalm 22 and Isa. 53, that few theologians look at these passages critically and realize that the authors of these passages did not understand fully and completely what they were saying—they understood one aspect of their writing (for instance, Abraham fully understood the historical circumstances which took place in Gen. 22 and he recorded them accurately)—but they did not realize, necessarily, that they were writing about the Savior Who would die for their sins.

11.    God the Holy Spirit understands the historical incidents and the spiritual information of all of these passages.

12.    Therefore, we, as Church Age believers, can read from these 3 chapters and have a greater understanding of what these chapters mean because we are guided by the Divine Author, God the Holy Spirit (and, ideally speaking, we are guided by a pastor who has studied and is able to properly teach these passages).

13.    Progressive revelation is quite persuasive in this way: those who lay the foundation for these doctrines which we learn did not fully understand those doctrines. The examples I gave—the writers of Gen. 22, Psalm 22 and Isa. 53 did not fully understand all that they were writing. They did not have a complete Christology in their thinking as they wrote those words. Yet, what they wrote was so completely and thoroughly integrated with Christology that, we have a greater understanding of what occurred while Jesus was on the cross from these 3 chapters than we have in the New Testament. Now, how is it that someone living 700 years before the cross, writes about the cross? How is it that someone living 1000 years before the cross writes about the cross? How is it that someone living 2000 years before our Lord, writes about the cross? How is this even possible? God the Holy Spirit, Who inspired and guided these writers. What is even more amazing is, how do these men write about the cross of our Lord and they themselves do not fully understand it?

14.    Let me give you an analogy. How is it possible for one crew of workers to come in and lay a foundation for a house and then for a completely different set or workers—who do not know the first set of workers—to come in, a few days later, and build a house upon that foundation? They have to all be working from the same set of plans. If they have the exact same set of plans, then this is easy. Any crew can do it. They don’t ever have to meet or know one another. One crew of 5 can be followed by another crew of 10, so that there is no overlap, no common foreman, and yet, the house which is built perfectly matches the foundation. That is what we have in the Bible. The unifying factor in building a house is, of course, the house plans. The various contractors must have a copy of the house plans and they work based upon those plans. In the writing of the Bible, the unifying factor is God the Father, who planned this all out, and God the Holy Spirit who guided the writers of Scripture. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it (1Cor. 3:10).

15.    Let me continue with this analogy. Those workmen who lay the foundation for the house do not need to know what the house actually looks like. Their concern is the foundation and seeing to it that whatever wiring and plumbing that is needed is laid in the foundation. If you have an island kitchen then, very likely, you have electricity built into that island kitchen, which wiring comes up through the foundation. This had to be placed there by those who laid the foundation.

16.    A foundation crew might lay a dozen foundations over a week’s time. They would be unable to determine, without looking at the rest of the plans, just how the final product will look. They don’t know if the style of the house will be Victorian or Old English or Contemporary. 12 months later, they might drive down the street where they laid out a foundation, and not even be able to pick out the house that they laid the foundation for.

17.    So this is with David, who wrote this psalm. He knows that he can demand that God thoroughly cleanse him. He knows that God is abundant in mercy and graciousness. However, David does not fully understand why God is able to do this. David can reasonably understand the essence of God, that He is righteous, just, eternal, gracious, truth and love. However, exactly how all of these attributes interrelate and interact with respect to the sins that David has committed—David doesn’t know all of that.

18.    At salvation, you had a lot of ideas about God, most of which were probably wrong. However, in time, you learned Who God is and why He is able to forgive you. You are able to see what the finished house looks like. David just laid the foundation. He knew some of the basic information about God, but he did not knew enough to put it altogether.

19.    The unifying factor in all of this is God the Holy Spirit, Who is just as much an Author of this psalm as is David. The Holy Spirit has these plans from God the Father, so the Holy Spirit is able to properly guide those who laid the foundation for our faith. Therefore, you [gentiles] are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Eph. 2:19–22).

The more you understand the intricacies of progressive revelation and dual authorship, the greater will be your appreciation for the Word of God.

This doctrine, along with many of the doctrines related to the dual authorship of the Scriptures have been gathered into one doctrine and put together under the name The Dual Authorship of Scripture (HTML) (PDF).


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


There are many implications and studies that we will explore as a result of this information. What did David understand? How much doctrine did he know? What did he not know? This provides also some insight into the lives of believers in the Age of Israel. As believers in Jesus Christ, in the Church Age, our lives have great meaning and definition. The things which we do have eternal consequence. We are all in God’s plan. We all have specific functions in God’s plan, some of which may be insignificant in the eyes of many (not in God’s eyes, however).


Application: You have a unique relationship with many people. Your relationship to your husband, wife and/or children is dramatically unique. God may have for you the purpose of leading 2 people to the Lord, and you and you alone are uniquely suited for that purpose, because you have that unique relationship with those people. You may not realize what a big deal this is, but when you lead your own children to the Lord, that is a very big deal. When you live your life as a believer in Jesus Christ in full view of your children, that is a very big deal indeed.


These notions of dual authorship, progressive revelation and limited understanding of God’s plan all play a part in indicating what life was like for those who were not in the midst of the fray. David, Solomon, Moses, etc. were all in the midst of the fray. We understand the great purposes for their lives and how they were empowered by the truth of the Word and God the Holy Spirit. However, what about Charlie Brown, who keeps a few dozen sheep, has a small house, a wife and children, and does not have the Holy Spirit—what is his life all about? Like everyone, his chance to be saved is based upon his faith in Jehovah Elohim. However, his spiritual life is not really a spiritual life as we know it, but a life led according to the Laws of Divine Establishment (HTML) (PDF). This was the basis for his life. He did not have the spiritual impact of a spiritual Atlas like, say, Jeremiah, but he functioned as a part of nation Israel, as a part of a corporate witness, living in obedience to the teachings of the faith, and in accordance with the laws of divine establishment.


So far, our Psalm reads: Be gracious to me, O God, as You are gracious;

according to Your abundant graciousness, blot out my disobedience.

Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.


David committed these horrendous sins. However, he puts everything upon God when it comes to cleansing him. He is not striking any deals here; he is not making any promises. Everything related to forgiveness and cleansing is placed upon God.


——————————


For my transgression I know

and my sin before me continually.

Psalm

51:3

For I know my disobedience,

and my sin [is] continually before me.

For I know what I have done wrong;

my sin is always in my thinking.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        For my transgression I know and my sin before me continually.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Septuagint (Greek)                For I know my iniquity; and my sin is continually before me.

 

Significant differences:           The English translation of the Syriac is slightly different than the Hebrew of the first verb. The Syriac also has the plural of transgression here (in the English translation).


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       I know about my sins, and I cannot forget my terrible guilt.

Easy English (Churchyard)    Because I know that I did not obey you

and my *sin is always in front of me.

Easy-to-Read Version            I know I sinned.

I always see those sins.

Good News Bible (TEV)         I recognize my faults; I am always conscious of my sins.

The Message                         I know how bad I've been; my sins are staring me down.

New Century Version             I know about my wrongs,

and I can't forget my sin.

New Life Bible                        For I know my wrong-doing, and my sin is always in front of me.

New Living Translation           For I recognize my rebellion;

it haunts me day and night.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          For I know all the laws I have broken, and my sin is ever before me.

God’s Word                         I admit that I am rebellious. My sin is always in front of me.

NIRV                                      I know the lawless acts I've committed.

I can't forget my sin.

New Jerusalem Bible             For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in mind.

Revised English Bible            For will I know my misdeeds

and my sins confront me all the time.

New Simplified Bible              I admit my transgressions. My sin is always in front of me.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             For I am conscious of my error; my sin is ever before me.

Complete Jewish Bible           For I know my crimes, my sin confronts me all the time.

Judaica Press Complete T.    for I recognize my transgressions,

and am ever conscious of my sin.

NET Bible®                             For I am aware of [tn Heb "know."] my rebellious acts;

I am forever conscious of my sin [tn Heb "and my sin [is] in front of me continually."].


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

The Amplified Bible                For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me..

Brenton’s LXX Translation    For I am conscious of my iniquity; and my sin is continually before me.

Concordant Literal Version    For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is in front of me continually.

Context Group Version                    For I know my transgressions; And my disgrace is ever before me..

exeGeses companion Bible   ...for I know my rebellions;

and my sin is continually in front of me.

MKJV                                     For I confess my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me.

NASB                                     For I know [Isa. 59:12] my [Or I myself know] transgressions,

And my sin is ever before me.

Syndein (revised)                   For I acknowledge [confess - David is naming his sins] my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.

World English Bible                For I know my transgressions. My sin is constantly before me.

Young's Literal Translation     For my transgressions I do know, And my sin is before me continually.

 

The gist of this verse:          David is fully aware of his sins. What he has done is constantly on his mind.


Psalm 51:3a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (כִּי) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

explanatory or temporal conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

peshaʿ (פֶּשַע) [pronounced PEH-shahģ]

violation, infraction, disobedience, insubordination, rebellion, transgression, trespass

masculine plural noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #6588 BDB #833

ʾânîy (אָנִי) [pronounced aw-NEE]

I, me; in answer to a question, it means I am, it is I

1st person singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #589 BDB #58

yâdaʿ (יָדַע) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to know, to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to become acquainted with, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something; to see; to learn; to recognize [admit, acknowledge, confess]

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393


Translation: For I know my disobedience,... This is quite interesting because, for several months, as David went from fornicating with Bathsheba to having her husband killed, there seemed to be very little introspection going on. In his mind, he had to determine what was best for him, and one of his soldiers knowing that he possibly raped his wife was not the best thing for him. So, David had Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, killed on the battlefield.


However, David’s thinking has been brought around. Nathan came to him (Psalm 51 inscription) and told him about a legal matter—about a rich man and a poor man. Suddenly, when determining this legal matter, it became clear to David just how evil and vicious he had been. For some reason, for a few months (or weeks?), this did not quite pierce David’s armor (his hard head). But, after making the judgment against the rich man, David suddenly and thoroughly understood just what he had done.


Here, the verb is in the imperfect, which indicates that David thought about this constantly.


Although many translations legitimately read, I acknowledge my sin, the imperfect tense suggests that this sin continues to weigh heavily on David’s mind. Ever since Nathan spoke to him and set him straight, David has continued to think about his sin and degenerate actions. If he was confessing his sin, this would have been a Qal perfect, indicating a single act in time. However, one needs to know one’s sin in order to be able to confess it.


It is important to recognize that committing a sin may or may not be accompanied by regret. David ruined a lot of lives that he was aware of, and he probably regretted that. However, this is certainly not a part of his confession and forgiveness. That is, God does not require us to work up feelings of regret and remorse in order to be forgiven. We cite our sins to Him and we are forgiven (1John 1:9).


Psalm 51:3b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

chaţţâʾth (חַטָּאת) [pronounced khat-TAWTH]

misstep, slip of the foot; sin; sinfulness; a sin-offering; penalty, calamity, misfortune

feminine singular noun with a 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #2403 BDB #308

neged (נֶגֶד) [pronounced NEH-ged]

what is conspicuous when it is a substantive and, as a preposition, in front of, in the sight of, opposite to, before (in the sense of being in front of)

preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5048 BDB #617

tâmîyd (תָּמִיד) [pronounced taw-MEED]

continuously, continuity; regularly, at regular intervals; continuity, perpetuity

masculine singular noun/adverb

Strong’s #8548 BDB #556


Translation: ...and my sin [is] continually before me. David gathers his several sins and his attempt to manipulate Uriah into a whole and calls that my sin. The verb is left out here, because that gives much greater emphasis to this portion of v. 3. David is seeing his sin, its consequences, and these things are before him constantly.


In confessing one’s sin, we are to forget it and to leave it behind. However, I think that, it is fair to say, that with a repetitive, addictive, degenerate sin, as David was breaking free from, it is reasonable to think about the evil that is connected with that sin. It is reasonable to consider that, which ought to help guide you away from that sin in the future.


Like most children, I led a fairly sheltered life; I had really great parents with very few addictions (apart from smoking). At one of the first jobs I worked at, I was exposed to a group of life-long alcoholics, and that was a fascinating group of people. I did not really understand alcoholism and how far it could take a person, but I came to realize, after a few years, that some of these guys would be on the wagon for several years, take a drink, and then, take another and another. Once they lost their house and their car and all of their friends, most of these guys then stopped drinking. And they would show up for work again. The idea of someone being on a 1 or 2 year bender seemed unfathomable to me. However, at various times, sometimes when they had been drinking, their sin was constantly before them. Sometimes, when they began to get sober, their sin would be constantly before them. Many had gone from having wives, families, houses and cars to having nothing. Furthermore, along the way, they hurt almost everyone that they knew in one way or another. So, their sin was perpetually before them.


David is only beginning to understand the consequences of his sin. His seeing a beautiful woman and taking her; and then murdering her husband, had far-reaching consequences—much further than David understood even at this time. The limited knowledge of the impact of what he has done is continually in David’s thinking.


In 2Sam. 11–12, we approached this as a sin of degeneracy; as an addictive sin. When people are in the midst of degenerate sins, they often do not appreciate that consequences of their actions. When addicted to drugs, people do all kinds of evil things in order to procure more drugs. Or, those who have the means of acquiring drugs, continue to do so until those means are used up—with little or no appreciation of what they are doing to themselves and to others.


Application: Along these lines, there is no such thing as a victimless crime. Libertarians tend to believe that, we ought to be able to do whatever we want with our own bodies without the state being involved (e.g., ingest drugs, become a prostitute or engage the services of a prostitute, etc.). These are not victimless crimes nor are these crimes with no impact on society. One might argue that incarceration for drug usage is not the proper approach; but there is no way one can argue that having 10% of the population taking drugs is a good thing for society.


Application: Some states take the approach of legalizing a sin and then taxing it, thinking that will bring in all kinds of revenue to the state. If this were the case, Nevada would be the richest state in the union; however, as I write this in 2011, it has some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and budget problems. If taxing sin were the answer, Nevada would have weathered the recession quite handily. California has all but made marijuana legal; however this has done very little to close its budget gaps.


In any case, assuming that Bathsheba was a willing participant (something which we do not know for certain), this does not make their sin a personal matter. As we will find out in the next few chapters of 2Samuel, this sin of David’s is going to affect the entire nation of Israel.


God’s administration of installment pressure is going to continually bring David back to the sins which he committed. When one son rapes a daughter; David is reminded of his taking Bathsheba. When one son kills another son, David is reminded of his murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. God is not looking to fill David’s soul with guilt with each installment of pressure; God is driving home to David the long-term consequences of his sins (which include marrying many wives and then not participating to the raising of their children because he had no time to do this).


Application: Just in case you want to misinterpret that last paragraph and think that the problem with David’s polygamy is, he did not properly raise up his children—that is only part of it. We are never taken inside of David’s home to see what happened with his wives; nor with Solomon. However, their wives had no one to go to with their problems. David might be available to a wife maybe once every two weeks. If she had too many problems, perhaps much less than that.


Application: The woman needs a man who is emotionally available to her on a regular basis. Now, given the demands of work, she may not feel as if she gets enough, no matter what, but with doctrine, that can all be worked out. A man cannot have 2 or more wives and be available to her. He cannot give her enough to respond to.


The Bible certainly mentions men who are married to more than one wife; but this in no way condones polygamy. We have already studied the Doctrine of Polygamy in Deut. 21:15 2Sam. 5 1Chronicles 14 (HTML) (PDF).


This verse reads: For I know my disobedience, and my sin [is] continually before me. David is continually aware of what he has done and how it has affected so many others. As time continues, he will begin to recognize just how profound this sin was in terms of its impact upon Israel. This does not mean that he is filled with guilt each and every day; but he is aware of what he has done; and, day-by-day, he becomes more aware of the consequences of these sins.


——————————


To You—to alone You—I have sinned;

and the evil in Your [two] eyes I have done.

On account of You are righteous in Your declaration;

You are clean in Your judgement.

Psalm

51:4

With regards to You—[and] to You alone—I have sinned;

and I have done evil in Your eyes.

Therefore [lit., So that], You are righteous in Your declaration; [and] You are justified in Your judgment.

Against You and You only have I sinned;

and I have done evil before You.

Therefore, You are both righteous in your declaration (of my discipline)

and You are justified in Your judgment (of my sins).


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          To You only have I sinned, and have done evil before You: that You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when You are judged.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        To You—to alone You—I have sinned;

and the evil in Your [two] eyes I have done.

On account of You are righteous in Your declaration;

You are clean in Your judgement.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Your sight; for You wilt be justified in Your reproof, triumphant in Your judgments.

Septuagint (Greek)                Against You alone have I sinned, and done evil before You; that You might be justified in Your words, and might overcome when You are judged.

 

Significant differences:           You is not repeated in the Greek or in the English translation of the Syriac. Before You and in Your sight are legitimate ways to translate in Your [two] eyes.

 

The Greek, Latin and Syriac all use a similar verb in the last phrase (to overcome, to be triumphant) which is very different from the Hebrew verb. When You are judged (form the Latin and the Greek) might be a legitimate way to translate the final Hebrew words, but that would end of being inconsistent. The second to the last phrase would then be reasonably rendered when You speak.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       You are really the one I have sinned against; I have disobeyed you and have done wrong. So it is right and fair for you to correct and punish me.

Easy English (Churchyard)    I have *sinned against you and only you.

You saw the *evil that I did.

And so you are right when you talk to me.

You are not wrong when you say that I am bad.

Easy-to-Read Version            I did the things you say are wrong.

God, you are the One I sinned against.

I confess these things so people will know

I am wrong, and you are right.

Your decisions are fair.

Good News Bible (TEV)         I have sinned against you---only against you--- and done what you consider evil. So you are right in judging me; you are justified in condemning me.

The Message                         You're the One I've violated, and you've seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair.

New Century Version             You are the only one I have sinned against;

I have done what you say is wrong.

You are right when you speak

and fair when you judge.

New Life Bible                        I have sinned against You, and You only. I have done what is sinful in Your eyes. You are always right when You speak, and fair when You judge.

New Living Translation           Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;

I have done what is evil in your sight.

You will be proved right in what you say,

and your judgment against me is just [Greek version reads and you will win your case in court. Compare Rom 3:4.].


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Against You alone I have sinned, and it's a wicked thing that I've done. So, Your words against me are righteous, and I should be humble when I'm being judged.

Ancient Roots Translinear      To you, you alone, I sinned and did evil in your eyes. Your word makes-righteous, and therefore your judging purifies.

God’s Word                         I have sinned against you, especially you. I have done what you consider evil. So you hand down justice when you speak, and you are blameless when you judge.

New American Bible              Against you alone have I sinned;

I have done such evil in your sight

That you are just in your sentence,

blameless when you condemn.

NIRV                                      You are the one I've really sinned against.

I've done what is evil in your sight.

So you are right when you sentence me.

You are fair when you judge me.

New Jerusalem Bible             Against you, you alone, I have sinned, I have done what you see to be wrong, that you may show your saving justice when you pass sentence, and your victory may appear when you give judgement,...

Revised English Bible            Against you only have I sinned

and have done what displeases;

you are right when you accuse me

and justified in passing sentence.

New Simplified Bible              I have sinned against you, especially you. I have done what you consider evil in your sight. So you hand down justice when you speak, and you are blameless when you judge.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             Against you, you only, have I done wrong, working that which is evil in your eyes; so that your words may be seen to be right, and you may be clear when you are judging.

Complete Jewish Bible           Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil from your perspective; so that you are right in accusing me and justified in passing sentence.

HCSB                                     Against You--You alone--I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge.

NET Bible®                             Against you — you above all [tn Heb "only you," as if the psalmist had sinned exclusively against God and no other. Since the Hebrew verb châţâʾ (חָטָא) [pronounced khaw-TAW] ("to sin") is used elsewhere of sinful acts against people (see BDB 306 s.v. 2.a) and David (the presumed author) certainly sinned when he murdered Uriah (2 Sam 12:9), it is likely that the psalmist is overstating the case to suggest that the attack on Uriah was ultimately an attack on God himself. To clarify the point of the hyperbole, the translation uses "especially," rather than the potentially confusing "only."] — I have sinned;

I have done what is evil in your sight.

So [tn The Hebrew term lemaʿan (לְמַעַן) [pronounced le-MAH-ģahn] normally indicates purpose ("in order that"), but here it introduces a logical consequence of the preceding statement. (Taking the clause as indicating purpose here would yield a theologically preposterous idea - the psalmist purposely sinned so that God's justice might be vindicated!) For other examples of lemaʿan (לְמַעַן) [pronounced le-MAH-ģahn] indicating result, see 2 Kings 22:17 Jer 27:15 Amos 2:7, as well as IBHS 638-40 ?38.3.] you are just when you confront me; [tn Heb "when you speak." In this context the psalmist refers to God's word of condemnation against his sin delivered through Nathan (cf. 2 Sam 12:7-12).]

you are right when you condemn me [tn Heb "when you judge."].

New International Version      Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight;

so you are right in your verdict

and justified when you judge.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment [Psalm 51:4 : Rom 3:4].

Concordant Literal Version    Against You, against You alone have I sinned And done what is evil in Your eyes, So that You may be justified when You speak, And be cleared when You judge.".

A Conservative Version         Against thee, thee only, I have sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, that thou may be justified when thou speak, and may prevail (LXX/NT) when thou are criticized (LXX/NT).

Context Group Version                    Against you, you only, I have disgraced [ God ], And done that which is evil in your sight; That you may be vindicated when you speak, And be clear when you judge.

exeGeses companion Bible   Against you - you only, I sinned

and worked this evil in your eyes;

so that you are just when you word

and pure when you judge.

Green’s Literal Translation    Against You, You only, I have sinned, and done evil in Your eyes; that You might be justified in Your speaking and be clear when You judge.

MKJV                                     Against You [Gen 20:6; 39:9; 2 Sam 12:13; Ps 41:4], You only, have I sinned, and done evil in Your sight; that You might be justified when You speak, and be clear when You judge.

NASB                                     Against You, You only, I have sinned

And done what is evil [Luke 15:21] in Your sight,

So that You [Rom 3:4] are justified [Or may be in the right] when You speak [Many mss read in Your words]

And blameless [Lit pure] when You judge.

New King James Version       Against You, You only, have I sinned,

And done this evil in Your sight-

That You may be found just when You speak [Septuagint, Targum, and Vulgate read in Your words.],

And blameless when You judge.

World English Bible                Against you, and you only, have I sinned, And done that which is evil in your sight; That you may be proved right when you speak, And justified when you judge.

Young’s Updated LT             Against You, You only, I have sinned, And done the evil thing in Your eyes, So that You are righteous in Your words, You are pure in Your judging.

 

The gist of this verse:          David confesses his sin to God. He accepts the function of God’s righteousness and judgment.


Psalm 51:4a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to; belonging to; by

directional/relational preposition with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

bad (בַּד) [pronounced bah

separation, by itself, alone

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #905 BDB #94

Together, the lâmed preposition and bad (ד-ב) mean in a state of separation, by itself, alone, apart.

châţâʾ (חָטָא) [pronounced khaw-TAW]

to sin, to miss, to miss the mark, to violate the law, to err; to do wrong, to commit a transgression

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #2398 BDB #306


Translation: With regards to You—[and] to You alone—I have sinned;... Here is a doctrinal concept which may be difficult for people to swallow. David’s heinous sins, where he possibly has raped Bathsheba (he at least took her in adultery) and then plotted the death of her husband; and yet, to God, David said, “With regards to You—You alone—I have sinned.” Some people may want David to run around and to apologize to Uriah’s remaining relatives, to Bathsheba’s family, and to whomever. Not here. David goes to God alone and confesses his sin because it is God alone against Whom David has sinned. All sin is first and foremostly against God. This does not mean that the results of sin do not affect others—quite obviously they do, as Uriah the Hittite was killed as a result of David’s sin. However, David’s sins are chiefly and fundamentally against God, and that is his most important consideration. David knew God’s laws and he disobeyed them. That is a sin against God and God alone.


Although, there may be some disagreement in the previous verse whether or not David is naming his sins to God; here, that is clearly the case. This is important to recognize, because naming one’s sins to God is integral to the spiritual life, even in the Old Testament.

Confession of Sin in the Old Testament

1.      Believers and unbelievers alike sin. Psalm 51:1–4 1John 1:8, 9

2.      Just as God has allowed us to have a permanent, eternal relationship with Him through faith in Christ, a nonmeritorious action, He allows believers to restore temporal fellowship with Him through the confession of sin. Both of these acts, on the part of man, are nonmeritorious and based upon what God has done (or would do).

3.      The word confession is often associated with odd concepts, so it is more accurate to say that we acknowledge or name our sins to God.

         1)      Man is not forgiven because he works up some sort of emotion to accompany his sin.

         2)      We are forgiven for sin based upon the hanging of our Lord on the cross, when He took upon Himself our sins and paid the penalty for them.

         3)      You may or may not feel badly about what you have done. However, if you think working up some emotion over your sin is necessary, then you are being extremely arrogant. Jesus paid the penalty for that sin, but, just as important in your own mind is, your emotions that you gin up. That is arrogance.

         4)      There will be times when your sin will seer your conscience, and you may have an emotional reaction to that. However, this does not mean that you are more forgiven (whatever that would be).

                  (1)     Psalm 38:17b–18 reads: My pain is continually before me. I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. Along with his confession, we have the Qal imperfect of dâʾag (דָּאַג) [pronounced daw-AHG], which means to be anxious, to be concerned, to fear. Strong’s #1672 BDB #178. It is not abnormal to be concerned about the consequences of your sin or even anxious about these consequences, as the temporal penalty for sin can, on occasion, be harsh.

                  (2)     What David feels in Psalm 38:17 is the Hebrew noun makeʾôb (מַכְאֹב) [pronounced mahk-OHBV], which means anguish, pain [affliction] [of soul]; sorrow. Strong’s #4341 BDB #456. The fact that David felt anguish over the sin of Psalm 38 is not to be construed as some kind of command for us to first work up anguish over our sins. There are times we will feel badly for the sins that we have committed; there are times when we don’t. In this particular psalm, it is clear that David has been clearly pained by God’s discipline (Psalm 38:1–8). So, one might even attribute the anguish and pain that he felt to the discipline for the sin he committed rather than David being convicted of his conscience.

4.      R. B. Thieme, Jr. calls this the rebound technique. When you name your sins to God (rebound) you are forgiven for your sin or sins. 1John 1:9

5.      Calls for confession of sin:

         1)      The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy (Prov. 28:13). Forsaking one’s sins simply means not to commit them anymore. The fewer sins you commit, the better your life will be.

         2)      Num. 5:6–7 "Speak to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the LORD, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.”

         3)      Deut. 30:1–3 "And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.” This is a call to national repentance and confession of sin.

6.      Examples of confession of sin:

         1)      Both Adam and the woman confess their sins to God in Gen. 3:12–13.

         2)      Saul confesses his sin in 1Sam. 15:24.

         3)      David acknowledges his sin to God in Psalm 51:4, which sin is his illicit sex with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband (Psalm 51 inscription). This confession is also found in 2Sam. 12:13a Psalm 32:5. That David is forgiven for his sin is found in 2Sam. 12:13b.

         4)      Jer. 3:25 “Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our fathers, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.”

         5)      Daniel confesses his own sin and the sin of the people of Israel in Daniel 9:20.

7.      God dealt with Israel collectively, as a people and as a nation. 2Chron. 26:37–38 Neh. 1:6–7 Jer. 33:8 Ezek. 36:25–26

         1)      The key here was, obedience to the laws of divine establishment. All believers in the Church Age have the Holy Spirit and our lives have spiritual impact. However, in the Old Testament, believers in Israel functioned in relationship to the nation Israel, and God dealt with the nation as a whole.

         2)      When Israel departed from the laws of divine establishment and from the faith God commanded them, God expected them as a people to come before Him, changing their mind about their evil ways and confessing their sins. See Lev. 26 (see in particular vv. 40–42). See also Isa. 59:12 with respect to God’s collective dealings with Israel.

         3)      Since God dealt with nation Israel as a singular entity, that means that the sons might confess the sins of their fathers as well. They recognize that the actions of their fathers led them to a point of great national discipline, and, because they are seen as a collective whole, therefore, their confession of sins reasonably includes the sins of their fathers. Neh. 9:1–3

         4)      1Kings 8:47–49 “Yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors, saying, 'We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,' if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause.” Here, we are speaking of the ultimate in discipline against client nation Israel—removal from the land of blessing, the Land of Promise.

         5)      See also Jer. 3:11–17 And the LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, "'Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD. Return, O faithless children, declares the LORD; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. "'And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, declares the LORD, they shall no more say, "The ark of the covenant of the LORD." It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.”

         6)      One of the great problems with Israel is, they might confess their sins, but, a very short time later, they would be fornicating with Baal (i.e., worshiping another god). Jer. 2:22–23

8.      Confession (acknowledgment) of sin, in the Old Testament, was therefore both a personal and a collective matter.

Two words need to be understood in this doctrine: (1) Confession of sin is the acknowledgment of sin. This may or may not be accompanied by emotions. (2) Repentance has also taken on an emotional connotation. However, repentance is simply changing your mind about what you are thinking or doing. This may or may not include having an emotional response.

Related to this is the Doctrine of Rebound (HTML) (PDF).


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines

 

There are a lot of weak commentaries out there. Dennis Bratcher writes: When we have done the things that David has done, it is not a private matter. When we have abused our position of responsibility before God, committed adultery with Bathsheba, murdered Uriah the Hittite, and been confronted with Nathan the prophet, we cannot simply offer a private prayer of repentance and hope that no one finds out. That kind of public sin before God and the community requires a willingness to come before God and the community and take responsibility for what we have done. Footnote This sounds very logical. However, in this psalm, David will say to God, “Against You and You only have I sinned;” and there is no recording of David making a public confession at any point in time (we have no idea as to how many were around David when Nathan nailed him on his transgression). There is nothing wrong with using logic when fleshing out the meaning of this or that verse; however, at a time when some might conclude a public confession is apropos, the Bible records no such thing. The closest thing that we have to a public confession is this psalm, which is far more doctrinal than confessional.


Bathsheba and David’s adultery are mentioned in the inscription, but Uriah is never named in this psalm. Furthermore, there is nothing about either sin in the psalm itself. A full narrative of David’s actions are found in 1Sam. 11, but it is very difficult to determine at what point this information was released to the public. David’s life, from this point on, is going to be very busy. He is going to be under great discipline; there will be great disruptions in his family life; and he will face a civil war. We do not know at what point David wrote any of this; and we do not know when it became available to the public. However, what we do not have is some sort of public forum, a few days later, where David stands before his public, and he enumerates his sins.


An interesting question is, at what point did Bathsheba know all of what had happened? Her grandfather, Ahithophel, turned against David in the revolution. At the very least, he knew what happened to his granddaughter; and, he must have had at least suspicions about what happened to Uriah the Hittite. All of this was written down before Bathsheba died (she will outlive David); when she had access to it and read it, is another matter. There is this whole human drama occurring, Bathsheba’s feelings about David after all that had happened, which we are given the barest of information. She is brought into the castle as his wife; yet the son of their adultery dies. She and David had sexual relations soon thereafter, at which time Solomon is conceived; and they have several children, which indicates that they had a normal sex life after all is said and done. Furthermore, it is suggested, but not stated outright, that David was faithful to Bathsheba. He has no other named children by other women after that point; and no additional wives or mistresses are named.


Psalm 51:4b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

raʿ (רַע) [pronounced rahģ]

evil, bad, wicked; evil in appearance, deformed; misery, distress, injury; that which is displeasing [disagreeable, unhappy, unfortunate, sad]

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7451 BDB #948

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

ʿêynayim (עֵינַיִם) [pronounced ģay-nah-YIM]

eyes, two eyes, literal eye(s), spiritual eyes; face, appearance, form; surface

feminine dual noun with the 32nd person singular suffix

Strong’s #5869 (and #5871) BDB #744

This phrase is literally in your eyes, but it can be translated in your opinion, in your estimation, to your way of thinking, as you see [it]. The dual and plural forms of this word appear to be identical.

Together, the bêyth preposition and ʿayin mean in my eyes is used, it means in my opinion, to my way of thinking, as I see it.

ʿâsâh (עָשָֹה) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare, to manufacture

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793


Translation: ...and I have done evil in Your eyes. David has manufactured the evil before God; in God’s sight, David has constructed the evil. It is very likely that David does not fully appreciate just how evil his acts were in tems of their repercussions, but God will show that to David, over the next 10 years.


This abbreviated doctrine comes from the Doctrine of Rebound (HTML) (PDF).

The Abbreviated Doctrine of Rebound (Confession of Personal Sin)

1.      Mechanics is extremely important in the Church Age. God has clearly outlined for us exactly what we ought to do for our spiritual lives.

2.      When God gives us a mandate, e.g., Be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:22) or Quench not the Spirit (1Thess. 5:19), then we ought to be taught just how we can fulfill that mandate. See Gal. 5:16, 25 for similar mandates.

3.      The mechanics are given in 1John 1:9 If we confess [acknowledge, name] our sins, He is faithful [meaning, God does this every time] and just [God does not violate His Own righteousness] to forgive us our sins [the sins we name], and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness [the sins that we have committed that we are unaware of].

4.      We all possess a sin nature. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1John 1:8).

5.      We all commit personal sin. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us (1John 1:10).

6.      John, in his first epistle, speaks of this as walking in the light and having fellowship with Him. 1John 1:6–7

7.      Synonyms for being out of fellowship, naming one’s sins to God and/or being filled with the Holy Spirit:

         1)      Walking in the light. 1John 1:7

         2)      Walking in the Spirit. Rom. 8:3b–4

         3)      Being in the Spirit: Eph. 6:18a

         4)      Being in fellowship with other believers and with Jesus Christ. 1John 1:6 2Cor. 13:14.

         5)      Drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner. This is being out of fellowship. The Corinthians were urged to judge themselves so that they would not be judged (which is rebound) 1Cor. 11:27–31

         6)      Yield (in the aorist tense). Rom. 6:13, 12:1

         7)      Lay aside every weight. Heb. 12:1

         8)      Be in subjection to the Father. Heb. 12:9

         9)      Lift up the hands that hang down. Heb. 12:12

         10)    Make straight paths. Matt. 3:3; Heb. 12:13

         11)    Arise from the dead. Eph. 5:14

         12)    Put off the old man. Eph. 4:22

         13)    Acknowledge your iniquity. Jer. 3:13

8.      Naming one’s sins to God in order to be restored to fellowship, is also found in the Old Testament. Gen. 3:12–13 Lev. 26:40–42 2Sam. 15:24, 30 1Kings 8:47–50 Psalm 32:3–5 51:1–14 Prov. 28:13 Jer. 2:22–23 3:12–13 Daniel 9:20–23

9.      We do not get to make up our own mechanics for the spiritual life. We are not required in naming our sins to God to work up some emotional response. We may recognize how deeply our sins have hurt others and be sorry that we did what we did; we may feel tremendous pain for being out of fellowship and under divine discipline. However, at no time are we required by God to work up some sort of emotion over a sin that we have committed. Along the same lines, there is no requirement by God for penance or for us to promise that we will never commit that sin again.

         1)      As an aside, I want to be specific here: we are talking about the mechanics of rebound. That simply means that we name our sins to God. There are no other hoops that we need to jump through in order to be forgiven.

         2)      Even though you can obviously sin and then confess it, bear in mind that there are natural consequences to sin. Some sins that you commit will hurt other people. Some sins are degeneracy sins, which can affect your thinking and your behavior in the long term. David’s famous sin of 2Sam. 11–12 was the result of years of degeneracy in the area of sexual sins, and these sins had a decade of results that David had to contend with (2Sam. 13–20), even after he had named these sins to God (2Sam. 12:13 Psalm 51:4).

Naming one’s sins to God is one of the fundamental mechanics of the Christian life. Rebound is a term original with R. B. Thieme, Jr. The concept of spiritually, Bob probably would have learned from L. S. Chafer. Footnote


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Psalm 51:9a–b With regards to You—[and] to You alone—I have sinned; and I have done evil in Your eyes. David has damaged God’s reputation with what he did. In many anti-Bible sites and in many anti-Bible books, David’s name will be brought up. “So, David was a man after God’s Own heart? Do you know what David did? Are you aware of his adultery and his murder?” And these sites are, for the most part, very dishonest. By this time, if you have studied 2Sam. 11–12 and this psalm, you understand that David has a sin nature; he succumbed to the sexual lust that he had; and he committed a series of heinous sins. Sure David is a hypocrite; he is a sinner; and he has a sin nature. No one in the Bible is perfect (except, of course, Jesus Christ). The Bible is willing to expose man for what he is. If any of these anti-Bible sites took a few minutes to understand the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the gospel, and the nature of man, all of this makes perfect sense. The Bible nowhere condones David’s behavior. He is going to spend 10 years under great pressure because of this series of sins. However, these anti-Bible sites have no interest in truth. They have no interest in understanding what the Bible says. They want to disparage the Bible and they want to disparage Jesus Christ. It does not bother them to do this dishonestly. They want to throw as much mud against the wall as they can, knowing that some of it will stick—at least in the thinking of this or that reader. David has provided them a great deal of ammunition. As long as they ignore the central themes of the Bible, men for centuries have disparaged Christianity and have used David as their prime example of how messtup the Bible is; and how messtup the Christian view of God is.


However, this ought to give us great comfort. Very few of us have committed adultery; and even fewer have had men murdered to cover up this or that wrong. However, we know in this psalm—because it is the Word of God—that David was completely and totally forgiven. He has been washed and cleansed completely from his sins. This gives us great comfort because we have all sinned; and sometimes, we look back upon a sin or a series of sins and we wonder, are we really saved; can God really forgive us? This psalm tells us, yes, no matter what we have done, if we believed in Jesus Christ, then we are saved.


Application: About a decade ago, there was a woman on death row in Texas (Karla Faye Tucker) who helped commit a heinous crime (she helped kill 2 people with a pickax in order to steal a motorcycle). When off of drugs and when in jail, she apparently believed in Jesus Christ. That was her claim. If she did, then she was completely washed of her sin, insofar as God was concerned. Before God, despite the heinous nature of her crime, she was cleansed. When she died by execution, she left this life and went to be face to face with the Lord.


Application: After salvation, we have the time in which we live our lives. This was true of David; and this was true of Karla Faye Tucker. God allowed David to live about 30 years after these sins (I did use other people’s material in order to work out a timeline here). Much of the Bible was written during that time. There is a tremendous amount of information in the second half of 2Samuel (well, in all of 2Samuel) which was probably written by David after the fact. Now, I have no idea what Karla Faye did after her salvation. I do know that God had a plan for her life, and I have no idea whether she chose to walk in this plan or not. However, you and I are still alive. That means that, no matter what horrendous things we have done, we are still alive and that means that God still has a plan for our lives.


Application: I had a wonderful friend who had strayed from the faith (actually, he was off-balance throughout much of his Christian life). Near the end, he was exposed to some clear doctrine, and, for a short time, realized that he had been off the beaten track; and he developed some interest in the Word of God. However, 3 or 4 weeks later, he had returned to the apostate thinking which had dogged his life for so long, and he was removed from this world.


Application: My point is, of course, if you are alive—which you must obviously be, if you are reading this—then God has a place for you in His plan, right now. No matter how many times you have failed and no matter how heinous the sins are which you have committed, you still have a place in God’s plan. You may have committed the most horrendous crimes of this century and you may be facing the lethal injection to pay for your crimes; but, to your last breath, God has a plan for your life; and you learn that plan by means of the Word of God.


Application: Our sins have consequences. David enjoyed a great exalted place in God’s plan; however, he would endure great consequences for his life. David made a lot of bad decisions. He married too many women; he sired too many children; and he had no time to properly invest in his marriages or in his families. As a result, many of his children would end up with a crap life, partially because David did not guide them in their life. As we will find out, this latest round of sins that David committed—the occasion for this psalm—will have David enduring a decade of difficulties, all because of what he has done. This will include a revolution, which was a natural consequence.


Application: The choices that we make in life—even that unbelievers make—have a great affect upon our own lives and the lives of those who are close to us. I mentioned Karla Faye Tucker, but I did not tell you about her father and mother’s divorce, and how she had been the result of an extramarital affair. This changed her life entirely, and at the young age of 12, she turned to drugs and sex. The divorce and the knowledge of the affair (and the actuality of the affair) put her on a pathway that would result in the gruesome death of two people who were completely unrelated to her salacious past. My point in mentioning this is, all of these things outside of her volition—the affair and the divorce—had a profound affect upon her. David’s children would be affected by the choices that David made; David’s country would be affected by the decisions that David made. All of the decisions which were sinful, impacted not only David, but perhaps millions of people. Even people today come across these anti-Bible websites and they read about David and the way his life is slanted by the writer of that website, and they decide that maybe the Bible is not the Word of God; maybe the Bible is not absolute truth. In other words, David’s sins impact people even today.


Psalm 51:4c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lemaʿan (לְמַעַן) [pronounced le-MAH-ģahn]

for the sake of, on account of, to the intent of, to the intent that, to the purpose that, in order that, in view of, to the end that; so that

compound preposition and substantive which acts like a preposition

Strong’s #4616 BDB #775

This is the substantive maʿan (מַעַן) [pronounced MAH-ģahn], which means purpose, intent, combined with the lâmed preposition (which is the only way that it is found in Scripture).

NET Bible footnote: The Hebrew term lemaʿan (לְמַעַן) [pronounced le-MAH-ģahn] normally indicates purpose ("in order that"), but here it introduces a logical consequence of the preceding statement. (Taking the clause as indicating purpose here would yield a theologically preposterous idea - the psalmist purposely sinned so that God's justice might be vindicated!) For other examples of lemaʿan (לְמַעַן) [pronounced le-MAH-ģahn] indicating result, see 2 Kings 22:17 Jer 27:15 Amos 2:7.

tsâdaq (צָדַק) [pronounced tsaw-DAHK]

to be righteous, to be just, to be justified; to have a just cause; to be in the right; to be vindicated; to conduct oneself with integrity

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #6663 BDB #842

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

dâbar (דָּבַר) [pronounced dawb-VAHR]

to speak, to declare, to proclaim, to announce; to lead, to guide; to rule, to direct; to follow; to lay snares, to plot against; to destroy

Qal infinitive construct with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #1696 BDB #180


Translation: Therefore [lit., So that], You are righteous in Your declaration;... The NET Bible justifies understanding this phrase as being a logical consequence of the preceding phrase (see Hebrew exegesis above).


God is absolutely righteous in His declaration against David, which He made through Nathan the prophet. David understood perfectly what Nathan was saying, and he understood perfectly the analogy, and how David is that rich man taking the poor man’s little ewe lamb. David knows that God is completely right here and that David is completely wrong.


Sometimes, the bêyth preposition can be used in a temporal way with the Qal infinitive construct, and the final few words could be understood as when You spoke [against David’s sin]. All of God’s pronouncements are just and righteous, because they come from a God Whose very essence is righteousness.


With regards to You—[and] to You alone—I have sinned; and I have done evil in Your eyes. Therefore [lit., So that], You are righteous in Your declaration;... It was common for kings to have many wives. Although this was against the Mosaic Law, no other king looked at David and thought that there was any abnormality with his having many wives. However, this is a cultural norm, not a spiritual norm. So David is politically correct, so to speak, but spiritually wrong. God is righteous in His declaration to condemn David’s sins.


Application: The great war of the Christian life is choosing the accepted life in God’s eyes as opposed to choosing the accepted life in the view of the world. We live in the devil’s world; therefore, we ought to expect that the norms and standards of this world to be quite different than the norms and standards of God. Therefore, God tells us Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renovation of your thinking, in order that you recognize what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2).


Psalm 51:4d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

zâkâh (זָכָה) [pronounced zaw-KAW]

to be clear, to be clean, to be pure; to be justified

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #2135 BDB #269

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

shâphaţ (שָפַט) [pronounced shaw-FAHT]

to judge, to condemn, to punish; to defend [especially the poor and oppressed], to defend [one’s cause] and deliver him from his enemies; to rule, to govern

Qal infinitive construct with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #8199 BDB #1047

Both the Greek and the Latin render this final phrase as, You are justified when You are judged. I think the more legitimate rendering, if this is to be taken as a temporal statement, is You are justified when You judge [or, condemn]. The passive stem of the verb (the Niphal infinitive construct) would be rendered more in the sense where God is being judged.


Translation: ...[and] You are justified in Your judgment. First of all, there is some question as to the translation of these final words; the exegesis above discusses this (the Greek and Latin rendering here is somewhat different and taken in the passive sense).


God has condemned David and has judged him for his sins; and David notes that God is completely justified in doing this.


David has, in the past two verses, essentially confessed his sin. However, you will note that David nowhere actually says what sins he committed. This is because Psalm 51 is not designed to be read only by kings who take the wife of a soldier, but this psalm is for all who sin before God. Therefore, we are given the principle here, rather than the specifics. What David says is true of all of us who sin.


With regards to You—[and] to You alone—I have sinned; and I have done evil in Your eyes. Therefore, You are righteous in Your declaration; [and] You are justified in Your judgment. Since all sin is ultimately against God, our forgiveness comes directly from God. Otherwise, every time you sinned, you would be running all over your state finding people to apologize to and to ask forgiveness of. Furthermore, some of them might not even grant this forgiveness. David indicates this by writing, Against You and You only have I sinned. Therefore, David goes directly to God for forgiveness and to be reinstated into fellowship with God.


Application: This sin stuff is a two-way street. People will sin against you and they might be believers in Jesus Christ. They do not have to come to you and beg your forgiveness. I have been cheated and sinned against on many occasions. I don’t sit by my front door waiting for these people to come by and tell me how wrong they were. They need to approach the throne of grace, not me. I cannot spend my life hating them or plotting revenge or wishing they would die long, horrible deaths. I have to put them in the hands of God.


Application: Along the same lines, you might feel it necessary to run around and ask the forgiveness of dozens of people for things which you did. Bear in mind, you might tell everyone that you know about your sins and be forgiven by them, but if God has not forgiven you, you are not forgiven. All of your sins must be named to God. He is righteous in His declaration and He is justified in His judgment.


With regards to You—[and] to You alone—I have sinned; and I have done evil in Your eyes. Therefore, You are righteous in Your declaration; [and] You are justified in Your judgment. God is perfect righteousness and perfect justice. You will note here that David does not appeal to God’s love. In confessing his sin to God, David looks to God’s righteousness and justice, because the righteousness which condemns him and the righteousness which will also be David’s. The justice of God which has put divine discipline to bear upon David is the justice which will declare David righteous, even after these horrendous sins. We understand why exactly this is true—because Jesus Christ died for our sins. However, it is less clear just how much David understood of this. That God would forgive him completely and that God’s righteousness would be David’s, is something that David took on faith.


Progressive revelation means that, each additional truth builds upon, expands, and better explains that which was already taught. New revelation does not supercede, replace or nullify previous revelation, but builds upon that which is past and that which is foundational.

You may think, David offered up animals as a sin offering, and he depended upon that. But David also wrote these words: You [God] do not delight in sacrifice and offering; You open my ears to listen. You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering (Psalm 40:6). In this very psalm, David writes: You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering (Psalm 51:16).


Again, this is a matter of progressive revelation. Man in the Old Testament only understood so much. For us, it is obvious that Gen. 22, Psalm 22 and Isa. 53 are all about our Lord’s substitutionary death for our sins. However, when it comes to Old Testament believers—including those who wrote those passages—how much they knew about their Savior-Messiah is much more limited. How much they knew about the righteousness of God is much more limited. This is what truly makes the Bible, the Old and New Testaments, amazing. Old Testament writers write about things that they do not have a complete understanding of. However, all that they write is in perfect accordance with Christ revealed in the New Testament. This is how the Christian understanding of progressive revelation is so completely different from that taught in Islam. In Islam, there was the problem that you have one passage which says X and another passage which says not-X; which is correct? In Islam, the most recent passage is said to supercede the most ancient passage. That is not the way true progressive revelation really works. Progressive revelation means that, each additional truth builds upon, expands, and better explains that which was already taught. New revelation does not supercede, replace or nullify previous revelation, but builds upon that which is past and that which is foundational.


The brickwork on a house, in many ways defines that house and its look. However, you cannot simply look at the first row of bricks and know what the house looks like. When you see all of the brickwork completed, and how it is turned, and how far up it goes, and how it looks in relation to the windows and doors, then you see the house in the way it will look. All that happens above that first row of bricks defines the house; but all that additional brickwork does not nullify or disregard or contradict that first row of bricks. The Old Testament lays a good, solid foundation. However, believers in the Age of Israel were unable to articulate all that there is to know about their Messiah-Savior based upon the Old Testament alone. Look, even John the Baptizer had some doubts about Jesus, which he expressed directly (Luke 7:20–22). Now, in the light of the entire Old Testament, even John the Baptizer did not fully understand what Jesus was doing, and he was herald to the King. This fact alone indicates that there were many unknowns in the thinking of Old Testament believers.


David knew that he had sinned; he knew that this sin was against God. He knew God is righteous and just in all things. And he knew that God forgave him. These things he knew. In fact, David depended upon these doctrines. But that the God that David believed in would come down from heaven and take upon Himself the body of a man and die for our sins—that is a piece of the puzzle which I do not believe that David had.


This is why the Old and New Testaments are so amazing and have such an incredible fit. Old Testament authors did not understand the entire theology of God. They knew the foundation, but they did not know what the entire house would look like. Yet the New Testament completes the building of this theological house in all of its glory, so that we are able to see it all—its foundation and its elevation, perfectly fitted together. How does the God explained by Paul fit into the understanding of the God Who spoke to Moses? They are the same God, even though Moses could not articulate in full what God would do and how man would be forgiven. Old Testament saints like Abraham, Moses and David knew many of the principles of the faith and the essence of God; Paul, by having an historical perspective and being led by the Holy Spirit, understood more fully God’s relationship to man, and what the Suffering Messiah did on our behalf.


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Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


David asks to be cleansed from all iniquity


Behold, in iniquity, I was born;

and in sin conceived me my mother.

Psalm

51:5

Look, I was born in iniquity

and my mother conceived me in sin.

Point of doctrine: I was born in iniquity and my mother conceived me in sin.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        Behold, in iniquity, I was born; and in sin conceived me my mother.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    For behold, I was formed in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Septuagint (Greek)                For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother conceive me.

 

Significant differences:           The Greek has the additional word for in the first phrase, as do the English translations of the Latin and Syriac.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       I have sinned and done wrong since the day I was born.

Easy English (Churchyard)    I am sure that I have done bad things since my birth.

I have always wanted to *sin since the day that I was born.

Easy-to-Read Version            I was born in sin,

and in sin my mother conceived me.

Good News Bible (TEV)         I have been evil from the day I was born; from the time I was conceived, I have been sinful.

The Message                         I've been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born.

New Century Version             I was brought into this world in sin.

In sin my mother gave birth to me.

New Life Bible                        See, I was born in sin and was in sin from my very beginning.

New Living Translation           For I was born a sinner-

yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Look! In lawlessness I was conceived, and the strange food of sin, which I craved from my mother.

Ancient Roots Translinear      I travail as a mother for the iniquity here, for the rutting in sin.

God’s Word                         Indeed, I was born guilty. I was a sinner when my mother conceived me.

NIRV                                      I know I've been a sinner ever since I was born.

I've been a sinner ever since my mother became pregnant with me.

New Jerusalem Bible             ...remember, I was born guilty, a sinner from the moment of conception.

Revised English Bible            From my birth I have been evil,

sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

New Simplified Bible              Indeed, I was born in perversity (mischief) (evil). I was a sinner when my mother conceived me.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             Truly, I was formed in evil, and in sin did my mother give me birth.

Complete Jewish Bible           True, I was born guilty, was a sinner from the moment my mother conceived me.

HCSB                                     Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Indeed I was born with iniquity,

with sin my mother conceived me.

Judaica Press Complete T.    Behold, with iniquity I was formed, and with sin my mother conceived me.

NET Bible®                             Look, I was guilty of sin from birth,

a sinner the moment my mother conceived me [Heb "Look, in wrongdoing I was brought forth, and in sin my mother conceived me." The prefixed verbal form in the second line is probably a preterite (without vav [?] consecutive), stating a simple historical fact. The psalmist is not suggesting that he was conceived through an inappropriate sexual relationship (although the verse has sometimes been understood to mean that, or even that all sexual relationships are sinful). The psalmist's point is that he has been a sinner from the very moment his personal existence began. By going back beyond the time of birth to the moment of conception, the psalmist makes his point more emphatically in the second line than in the first.].

NIV – UK                                Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

The Scriptures 1998              See, I was brought forth in crookedness, And in sin my mother conceived me.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

The Amplified Bible                Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful] [John 3:6; Rom 5:12; Eph 2:3].

Concordant Literal Version    Behold, I was with depravity when I was travailed in birth, And in sin when my mother conceived me.".

Context Group Version          Look, I was brought out in iniquity; And in disgrace did my mother conceive me.

Evidence Bible                       Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

exeGeses companion Bible   Behold, I writhed in perversity;

and in sin my mother conceived me.

Fred Miller’s Revised KJV     Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and my mother conceived me in a sinful world.

NASB                                     Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity [Job 14:4; 15:14; Ps 58:3; Eph 2:3],

And in sin my mother conceived me.

NRSV                                     Indeed, I was born guilty,

a sinner when my mother conceived me.

Syndein                                  Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me {old sin nature is passed down from Father at birth - so he was 'born already in sin'}.

World English Bible                Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity. In sin my mother conceived me.

Young’s Updated LT             Lo, in iniquity I have been brought forth, And in sin did my mother conceive me.

 

The gist of this verse:          David was born with imputed sin and a sin nature. .


At birth, Adam’s original sin stands imputed to us; we are also born with a sin nature. My question is, does this verse speak to both of these things, or to either one specifically? Or, knowing of these two relationships that we have with sin, do we properly interpret this verse in this way?


Psalm 51:5a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

hên (הֵן) [pronounced hayn]

lo!, behold, observe, look, look here, get this, listen, listen up

demonstrative adverb/interjection

Strong’s #2005 BDB #243

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

ʿâvôwn (עָווֹן) [pronounced ģaw-VOHN]

iniquity, crime, offense, transgression, depraved action, guilt, punishment from wrongdoing

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #5771 BDB #730

chûwl (חוּל) [pronounced khool]

to be born; to be brought forth

1st person singular, Pulal perfect

Strong’s #2342 BDB #296


Translation: Look, I was born in iniquity... The demonstrative interjection means lo!, behold, observe, look, look here, get this, listen, listen up. This is an important fact; this is a point of doctrine. Now, David is not justifying himself or giving himself a reason to legitimately sin, but he is pointing out a legitimate theological fact: I was born in iniquity. David came out of the womb a sinner. Adam’s original sin had been imputed to him and he had an old sin nature. As R. B. Thieme, Jr. pointed out so long ago, the first word a child says is mama, the second word is dada (or, whatever); and the third word is no. That’s the old sin nature expressing itself.


Here, we have David being born, but he is born in iniquity; he is born in a transgression, he is born in guilt. So, what this means is, Adam’s original sin is imputed to David (and to all of us) at the moment of birth. We emerge from the womb as criminals; we emerge from the womb in transgression. We may be beautiful to our mothers and fathers, but not to God. God sees us emerge from the womb, and He sees Adam’s transgression.


What about Eccles. 7:29b, which reads: God made man [the Adam] upright, but they pursued many schemes? Here is the deal: God did make Adam upright; God did create Adam sinless; however since then, mankind has pursued chishshâbôwn (חִשָבוֹן) [pronounced cheesh-shaw-BOWN], which means a device [for war], wartime invention. Strong’s #2810 BDB #364. So, what happened to mankind is, God created man perfect, but man chose to do wrong; in fact, now much of his time is spent pursuing wartime inventions. As an aside, this does not mean that Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, is implying that we ought to stop making weapons. We defend ourselves by being strong, which includes having advanced weaponry. However, this clearly indicates the direction of man’s history, which is very much in line with what Psalm 51:5 is saying.


The Bible has a great deal to say about imputations, which define our spiritual status at birth, as well as our spiritual potential when faced with the Person of Jesus Christ.

The Doctrine of Imputations

1.     Imputation is the function of the justice of God in crediting something to someone for cursing or for blessing. Imputations are the outline of our lives, and these imputations are pertinent to both believers and unbelievers. . Our relationship with God is built upon these imputations. They form the framework in which all other doctrine is built upon which deals with our relationship with God. Imputations are the bones of the skeleton. Imputations give structure and strength to every concept and principle related to the Christian life. Imputations mark the outline of God's grace. Imputations tell the story of how divine justice accomplishes the purpose for which God created mankind.

2.     The original languages:

        1)     The Hebrew verb is châshab (חָשַב) [pronounced khaw-SHAHBV], which means to think, to regard, to account, to count, to determine, to calculate. It is translated a myriad of ways in the KJV; among them: thought (Gen. 50:20), meant (Gen. 50:20), devise (1Sam. 18:25), think (Neh., 6:6), cunning (Ex. 35:35), purposed (Jer. 49:20), conceived (Jer. 49:30), reckon (Lev. 25:50), count (Lev. 25:52), impute (Lev. 17:4), accounted (1Kings 10:21). It occurs over 150 times in the Old Testament and is rendered in over ten different ways in the Old Testament. The first time we find this verb, it is quite significant. And Abram had believed Yehowah and He counted [= imputed] it to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). Strong’s #2803 BDB #362. This verb is found 126 times in the Old Testament.

        2)     The Greek verb is Verb logizomai (λογίζομαι) [pronounced log-IHD-zohm-ai], which means, 1) to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over; 1a) to take into account, to make an account of; 1a1) metaphorically to pass to one’s account, to impute; 1a2) a thing is reckoned as or to be something, i.e. as availing for or equivalent to something, as having the like force and weight; 1b) to number among, reckon with; 1c) to reckon or account; 2) to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate; 3) by reckoning up all the reasons, to gather or infer; 3a) to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on; 3b) to suppose, deem, judge; 3c) to determine, purpose, decide. Thayer definition only. Strong’s #3049. This verb is found 42 times in the New Testament.

3.     There are two categories of imputation. The first is real imputations and the second is called judicial imputations.

        1)     Real imputation is when the justice of God imputes under the principle of antecedence and affinity. What is imputed has an affinity, which is an agreement or a correspondence for that to which it is imputed. That means there is an affinity between Adam's original sin on the one hand and its home which is the sin nature. They are like things, there is no discontinuity there. So there are two factors involved here: what is imputed from the justice of God, and the home or the target for the imputation. In terms of antecedence, that antecedence goes back to Adam's original sin, the original fall, and the affinity is the agreement between Adam's original sin and the sin nature. This makes it a real imputation.

        2)     The second category of imputations, and these are judicial imputations. Judicial imputations take place where the justice of God imputes what is not antecedently one's own and where there is no affinity. In other words, there is no preceding action of event in the one to whom something is judicially imputed which warrants that imputation. Therefore there is no affinity, no agreement or inherent similarity between what is imputed and the recipient. That becomes clear when we look at the two judicial imputations.

4.     There are four real imputations.

        1)     The first is Adam's original sin to the sin nature. Romans 5:12: Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and [spiritual] death spread to all men [by means of imputation] because all sinned [when Adam sinned]. Romans 5:14: Nevertheless, [spiritual] death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him [Jesus Christ] Who was to come [the 1st Advent of Christ]. 1Cor. 15:22a: In Adam, all die. Rom. 5:16: And the gift [Jesus Christ] is not like what occurred through the one who sinned [Adam]; For on the one hand, the judicial verdict came by one transgression resulting in condemnation [a real imputation], but on the other hand, that gracious gift [Christ's incarnation and Atonement] because of the many transgressions resulting in a judicial act of justification.

                 (1)    As an aside, there is a reason why Adam’s original sin is imputed to all of us—we need to stand condemned before God at birth, so that, if we die prior to the age of accountability, the Lord’s death on our behalf can be applied to us. All children who die before the age of accountability (before they are able to understand and make a decision about Jesus Christ) are therefore saved. Their volition is not an issue in the Angelic Conflict, because they have not yet considered God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

                 (2)    David, when his infant son died, said, “He will not return to me; I will go to him.” (2Sam. 12:23b).

                 (3)    The sin of Adam was not imputed to Jesus Christ because there was no target; Jesus was born without the old sin nature, which is the target of Adam’s original sin. Blessed is the Man to Whom Jehovah does not impute iniquity, and in Whose Spirit there is no guile (Psalm 32:2).

        2)     The second type of real imputation is eternal life to the human spirit-there is an affinity there. The human spirit is that which the Holy Spirit creates and imparts to us at the instant of salvation, and that is what gives us the ability and understanding to relate to God. John 3:16, 36

        3)     The third is blessings in time are imputed to our perfect righteousness. We have perfect righteousness imputed from a judicial imputation and blessings in time are imputed to that. Psalm 106:30–31 1Peter 2:24

        4)     Fourth, blessings in eternity are imputed to the resurrection body. That which is done in the Spirit on earth is also parlayed into eternal blessings. 1Cor. 3:11–14

5.     Judicial imputations:

        1)     The first is personal sin to Christ on the cross. Jesus Christ was born without a sin nature. He never committed any act of personal sin. Therefore there is nothing in Christ, no antecedent action, nothing preceding the cross which has any affinity or correlation with sin. The point here is that when personal sins were imputed to Christ there was nothing in Christ that had any affinity to personal sin, or there was no action in the life of Christ which made a basis for that imputation. Psalm 22:1 Matt. 27:45–46 1Peter 2:24

        2)     In the same way on the second type of imputation, which is perfect righteousness to the believer at the point of salvation, there is no affinity. The believer is born with a sin nature. He has three strikes against him: he has a sin nature; he has been imputed with Adam's original sin; and he has personal sins. So there is no antecedent action of perfection in man to make him worthy of salvation. There is nothing in man that has affinity with perfect righteousness; therefore it is a judicial imputation. Gen. 15:6: And Abram had believed Yehowah and He counted [= imputed] it to him as righteousness. Rom. 4:3–7, 22–25 2Cor. 5:21

                 (1)    Our own righteousness does not enter into the picture in any way. God has classified our righteousnesses as menstruous rags. Isa. 64:6

                 (2)    This is why Rom. 4:6 speaks of God imputing righteousness to us apart from our works.

6.     Adam and mankind:

        1)     Adam’s original sin is imputed to us at birth. Or, as it has been said by many, when Adam sinned, we all sinned. Rom. 5:18a Therefore, through the offense of one man condemnation was upon all men.

                 (1)    In this, he is called the federal head of the human race. As the federal head of the human race, Adam represents us in his choice to disobey God.

                 (2)    Adam’s sin and the woman’s sin are very different. The woman was deceived by the serpent, but Adam made the free will choice to eat the fruit of the tree.

                 (3)    He looked at the woman, whom he loved, and thought about God, and chose the fallen woman. Gen. 3:1–6

        2)     We are also born with Adam’s nature—his propensity for sin—which he acquired after the fall. This nature is passed along through the man in copulation. In this way, Adam is called the seminal head of the human race (seminal means seed, sperm).

        3)     Very early in life, we make multiple choices to commit personal sins, which is a result of our volition and the possession of a sin nature which tempts us to sin.

        4)     Rom. 5:12 Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed on all men inasmuch as all sinned. Or Jonathan Mitchell’s translation: Because of this (Therefore; That is why), JUST AS through one man (through the act or agency of one man) The Sin (Failure; the miss of the target) entered into the ordered system (the world; the cosmos), and through The Sin (Failure; the miss of the target) The Death, and in this way The Death passed through (came through; went throughout) into all mankind (humanity), upon which [situation], all sinned (everyone fails and misses the target). Adam brought sin into the world because he chose to sin against God. He brought spiritual death (separation from God) upon himself and all mankind. As a result of having a sin nature, all men therefore choose to sin.

        5)     All men, without fail, will choose to sin. That is our nature. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:6).

7.     Choosing to sin is a part of man’s nature. Recognizing that one has sinned is not a matter of having the Mosaic Law. That is, the Mosaic Law did not ultimately define sin. There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and does not sin (Eccles. 7:20).

8.     The logical timeline:

        1)     God knew, in eternity past, that man would fall, and so, in eternity past, God made provisions for man’s fall.

        2)     God’s plan was, His Son would take upon Himself our sins.

        3)     In time Adam was created and Adam sinned.

        4)     Adam’s sin was passed along to all mankind, by imputation and through the possession of a sin nature which is passed along genetically through the male.

        5)     Jesus came into this world, virgin born. This means He did not possess a sin nature, and therefore, Adam’s original sin was not imputed to Him, because He has no natural target for Adam’s sin.

        6)     On the cross, Jesus took upon Himself the judicial imputation of our sins, paying the penalty for these sins.

        7)     Because Jesus took the judicial imputation of our sins, we may accept the judicial imputation of His righteousness to us. Old Testament saints looked forward to this; and, until that time, their sins were covered. Num. 15:28 Psalm 32:1 Rom. 4:7b

        8)     We look backward in time this our Lord’s crucifixion and believe in Him. We receive His righteousness and our sins are forgiven. Matt. 9:6 Rom. 4:7a Eph. 1:6

        9)     In time, as we grow spiritually and are filled with the Spirit, we receive blessings from God in time.

        10)   In eternity, if these blessings in time were a result of functioning in the Spirit according to the teaching of the Word of God, then blessings in time are parlayed into blessings in eternity.

9.     Imputations and the Angelic Conflict:

        1)     Satan has lodged objections to God’s character prior to human history, after he had fallen and had been sentenced to the Lake of Fire. This is a logical conclusion based upon the fact that Satan has already been judged and yet, he retains some freedom to go about. Job 1:7 John 16:11

        2)     Satan continues to lodge objects to God’s relationship to man, and to the sins which we commit. Job 1:7–11 Rev. 12:10

        3)     It is Christ’s death for our sins and the imputations above which show that God’s love, justice and righteousness are integral to his character, and not characteristics which are contradictory or function in opposition to one another.

10.   Imputations and salvation:

        1)     We stand condemned at birth, because Adam’s original sin has been imputed to the sin nature, which we received genetically from Adam. You may be born with your mother’s eyes and your father’s hair, but you have a sin nature which you inherited from Adam. Imputed to that sin nature is Adam’s original sin.

        2)     The personal sins which we commit are a natural result of having a sin nature. I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I know not. For what I desire, that I do not do; but what I hate, that I do (Rom. 7:14b–15). See also Rom. 8:3

        3)     Jesus Christ died for the sins which we have committed and which we will commit—meaning, He took upon Himself the punishment for these sins. Our sins were imputed to Jesus Christ, which is a judicial imputation (there is nothing in Jesus which had a natural affinity for our sins). He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; by Whose stripes you were healed (1Peter 2:24; Isa. 53:5).

        4)     Therefore, we are no longer condemned because of our sins. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1a).

        5)     Our attitude toward Jesus Christ becomes the issue to us. Just as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil tested Adam’s volition, when there was no sin; the tree of the cross tests our volition in a world of sin. For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23).

        6)     As a result, we are justified, which means, God’s righteousness is imputed to us. And the gift [Jesus Christ] is not like what occurred through the one who sinned [Adam]; For on the one hand, the judicial verdict came by one transgression resulting in condemnation [Adam’s original sin], but on the other hand, that gracious gift [salvation by means of Christ’s death on the cross] because of the many transgressions resulting in a judicial act of justification (Romans 5:16).

        7)     Robby Dean draws this conclusion: The conclusion that we draw from all of this is that Adam's sin is not just his sin. Adam's sin is our sin, the sin of the entire human race. All of Adam's descendants are born in a state of helplessness, hopelessness and under condemnation. They are born with a corruption. That means that there is nothing in any of us that allows us to do anything to merit salvation.

11.   The imputations of blessings in time and in eternity are all potential.

        1)     The 6 categories of temporal blessings, which may be imputed to us:

                 (1)    Spiritual blessings: Occupation with Christ, a relaxed mental attitude, capacity for prosperity

                 (2)    Temporal blessings: Different types of prosperity (social, sexual, wealth etc.)

                 (3)    Blessings by association: Other people are blessed through association with you.

                 (4)    Historical blessings: Your nation or area is blessed through association with you.

                 (5)    Blessings connected with undeserved suffering: Suffering for blessing

                 (6)    Dying blessings: Believer glorifies God in dying.

        2)     We will receive eternal rewards in heaven, based upon our spiritual function here on earth. This involves spiritual growth and the filling of the Holy Spirit. The natural outworking of these things will be the doing of divine good, which will result in eternal rewards being imputed to us. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may be rewarded for the things he has done by means of the body (during his life on earth) face to face with what he has accomplished, whether [divine] good or worthless [human good] (2Cor. 5:10). For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work, which he has built upon, it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire (1Cor. 3:11–15).

I took many of these points from Robbie Dean’s notes:

http://phrasearch.com/Trans/Dean/Genesis/Gen032.htm

as well as from Bill Wenstrom’s Doctrine of Imputation which is here:

http://www.wenstrom.org/downloads/written/doctrines/theology_proper/imputation.pdf

R. B. Thieme, Jr. is probably responsible for much of the organization here, much of which he probably got from Chafer.

This is an extensive topic in L. S. Chafer’s Systematic Theology; ©1976 Dallas Theological Seminary; Volume 2, pp. 296–315. Bob Thieme was an enthusiastic student of Chafer’s.

I contributed a little original material.


Chapter Outline

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Psalm 51:5b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

chêţeʾ (חֵטְא) [pronounced kheyt]

sin, offense, fault; penalty for sin, guilt for sin; calamity

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #2399 BDB #307

yâcham (יָחַם) [pronounced yaw-KHAHM]

to conceive (sexual); to be warm with sexual desire; to have sexual intercourse; to conceive; to be in heat (used of animals)

3rd person feminine singular, Piel imperfect; with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #3179 BDB #404

ʾêm (אֵם) [pronounced aim]

mother [humans, animals]; grandmother used figuratively for an intimate relationship, for a nation; a metropolis, a great and leading city; metaphorically for the earth; point of departure or division

feminine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #517 BDB #51


Translation: ...and my mother conceived me in sin. David goes back even further than his birth. In this second half of v. 5, he speaks of being conceived in sin by his mother. The verb used has nothing to do with birth and everything to do with sexual intercourse and conception. David was conceived in sin.

 

Other theologians also understand this to occur before birth: This language simply traces his sin back to the time when he began to exist. The previous expression traced it to “his birth;” this expression goes back to the very beginning of “life;” when there were the first indications of life. The idea is, “as soon as I began to exist I was a sinner. Footnote


The sin nature is passed down through the father in conception. This is why the virgin birth is so important—no sin nature to be passed down if there is no man involved.


Adam and Eve both chose to sin, but the quality of their sins was different. The woman was deceived by Satan (this ought to make you understood why God sees the truth as so important); but Adam evaluated the situation, Jesus Christ in the garden or the woman outside of the garden, and he chose the woman. There was no deception involved in Adam’s decision. He looked at the woman and thought about God, and he chose the woman. She was his closest friend and lover and he desired her as no one else. He could not imagine his life without her. There was no one on earth like her. Therefore, because of his choice, the male sperm in conception carries with it the sin nature which becomes a part of our body and soul.

The Sin Nature is Passed Down Through the Male

1.      Adam and the woman were created perfect, without sin. Gen. 1:26–27, 31

2.      Adam and the woman chose to sin by eating the forbidden fruit. Gen. 3:1–6a

3.      The woman was deceived in the fall, taking the fruit to be like God. Gen. 3:1–6a, 13 1Tim. 2:14

4.      Our passage, Psalm 51:5b speaks of sin as related to conception, so that, we understand the time of conception as the moment that we receive a sin nature (even though we would be hard-pressed to see the results of this in the womb). At conception, there are no outside influences—just the sperm of the man and the egg of the woman. Therefore, sin (the sin nature) has to lie in one of those.

5.      Adam sinned knowingly, choosing the woman over God. Gen. 3:6b 1Tim. 2:14

6.      As a result, sin came into the world (Rom. 5:12, 19) and death reigned over all mankind (Rom. 5:17).

7.      All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

8.      No man is righteous. Eccles. 7:20 Rom. 3:10

9.      Our life on earth is marked by being dead in trespasses and sins, as children of disobedience, fulfilling the lusts and desires of our flesh. Eph. 2:1–3

10.    Even some of our greatest saints had a sin nature. Job 15:14–16 Rom. 7:15–20

11.    Even though Adam originally came into the world in the image of God, his son came into the world in Adam’s image, which would have included having a sin nature. Gen. 1:26–27 5:3

12.    Man is therefore born unclean and under judgement. Job 14:3–4

13.    Messiah would come into the world and not commit violence nor would He be deceitful. Isa. 53:9

14.    Jesus was born without sin and there was no man involved with His conception. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Matt. 1:18–20 Luke 1:34–35

15.    Jesus was born only of a woman. Isa. 7:14 Matt. 1:23 Luke 1:35 Gal. 4:4

16.    Rom. 8:3–4 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. We, as believers or unbelievers, are unable to keep the Law of God because we are weakened in the flesh, which is a reference to the resident old sin nature. Jesus Christ is in the likeness of sinful flesh, which means, He has a body, just like ours; but no resident sin nature.

17.    Heb 2:14–15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. The slavery is to sin; more specifically, to the sin nature. We are subject to lifelong slavery because the sin nature is a part of us. Jesus Christ is flesh and blood, as we are, but He lacks the sin nature.

18.    Even though Jesus shared flesh and blood with all mankind, He was also separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26).

19.    He had no indwelling old sin nature. 1John 3:5

20.    Furthermore, by choice, Jesus never sinned. Heb. 4:15 1Peter 2:22

21.    This is why the Old Testament offerings always emphasized an animal without spot or blemish (Lev. 4:3, 23, 28). The animal represents Jesus Christ, who is the true Lamb of God (Gen. 22:8 John 1:29, 36).

22.    It would be illogical for God to be connected in any way with sin. Since Jesus is fully God, He can have no connection with sin. John 1:1–3, 14 Col. 2:9 Heb. 1:8

23.    The only connection that Jesus had with sin is, it was imputed to Him on the cross and He took the penalty for our sins. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2Cor. 5:21). See also Heb. 9:28 1Peter 3:18

24.    Because Jesus is fully human (Heb. 4:14–15), the sin nature must therefore be passed down through the man.

         1)      Jesus is without sin.

         2)      Jesus is conceived apart from a human father.

         3)      Therefore, logically, the sin nature must be passed down through the man.

         4)      That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6). Although this verse has a different context, the principle is still true.

25.    Not only does David emerge from the womb with Adam’s original sin imputed to him, (Psalm 51:5a 58:3) he acquires this sin nature at conception (Psalm 51:5b).

There is far more to the virgin birth than being just a sign; than just being a very cool prophecy.


Chapter Outline

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Whereas, Psalm 51:5 speaks of being born convicted of Adam’s sin, and with a sin nature, Psalm 58:3 speaks of the natural consequences of having a sin nature: The wicked go astray from the womb. They are wayward as soon as they are born, speaking lies.


Being born with a sin nature does not excuse our sin. Some people are born with a propensity for alcoholism; however, we do not excuse that or the resultant actions of the alcoholic, even though there is clearly a genetic predisposition. The same is true of all addictive sins—drugs, gambling, homosexuality (although the latter lin has gained social legitimacy in the past 30 years due to a concerted effort by homosexuals).


So that there is no confusion, the believer is not ruled by his sin nature. In fact, it might even be argued that the unbeliever is not ruled by his sin nature (otherwise, there would be no morality in the world, apart from believers). We have orderly and fundamentally moral societies as a result of controlling the sin nature by law (enforced humility) and by morality (genuine humility).


Believers and unbeliever alike exert control over the sin nature and over our emotions. We have all seen the spoiled child who demands to get what he wants when he wants it, but that is a result of poor parenting. At the same time, we have come into contact with children who are well-behaved, with great self-discipline. What I am saying is, having a sin nature does not excuse us, no more than Adam could legitimately blame God for his sin (which he did).


It is a legitimate question to ask about Eccles. 7:29a: Look, this only I have found: that Elohim made man straight.

Did God Make Man Upright?

1.      Eccles. 7:29a reads: Look, this only I have found: that Elohim made man [lit., Adam] straight.

2.      God created man upright in two ways: God created Adam perfect, without sin. Adam chose to sin.

3.      Man has a conscience, which is developed in time with norms and standards (concepts of right and wrong).

4.      For Adam, choices were simple. He could do anything except eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. For man after the fall, the choices are more complex.

5.      However, all men have concepts of right and wrong, even though these concepts may be distorted by the sin nature and by the teaching they have received.

Logically, it would seem necessary to look at the Doctrine of the Conscience, but I have not developed that doctrine yet (nor do I find it already done by a reputable source, although I am sure that R. B. Thieme, Jr. must have done it at some point). The lighthearted Calvinist has, however (I am not a Calvinist; however, it seems as though he did a reasonable job):

http://www.scribd.com/doc/13049643/Doctrine-of-Conscience


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Psalm 51:9 Look, I was born in iniquity and my mother conceived me in sin. Sin dogs our lives in 3 ways: (1) we have Adam’s imputed sin, which means we are condemned from birth before God; (2) we are born with a sin nature, which is passed down through the man; (3) and we commit personal sins. Any one of these 3 things would keep us from having any sort of a relationship with God.

The Barrier Between Man and God

1.      We are born with Adam’s sin imputed to us. Therefore, one sin led to condemnation of all men (Rom. 5:18a). In Adam, all die (1Cor. 15:22a). Because of one man's sin, death reigned through that one man (Rom. 5:17a).

         1)      Paul provides the entire argument for the imputation of sin in Rom. 5:12–21: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-- for sin indeed was in the world before the Law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation [on all mankind], but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through [or, because of] that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the Law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

         2)      There are reasons why Adam’s original sin is imputed to us.

         3)      We have to be condemned first in order to be saved.

         4)      Babies are born condemned by God; which makes them eligible for redemption. Therefore, when a child dies, God has already redeemed that child, apart from the child’s volition (when a child dies prior to reaching God consciousness) by our Lord’s death on the cross. Therefore, that child is saved. 2Sam. 12:22–23

         5)      This is why the Book of Life has every person’s name in it. Since we are condemned from birth, we stand potentially purchased from the point of birth. Philip. 4:3 Rev. 3:5

         6)      Similarly, this allows for the salvation of those who lived prior to the Law of Moses. The Law defined sin, so that, man clearly knew when he had committed a sin. Rom. 5:12–14: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned--for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. God did not require first having the Law of Moses in order to condemn man. God did not have to define sin in order for us to be sinners.

         7)      Again, man has to be condemned in order for God to redeem him; man must be in the slave market of sin in order for God to purchase him.

2.      The second part of our barrier is the sin nature. We inherit Adam’s sin nature. The corruption of Adam’s sin is genetically ingrained in all of us. We were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Eph. 2:3b). That is, we are prone to sin against God. By the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners (Rom. 5:19a). For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin [= the sin nature] that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin [= sin nature] that dwells within me (Rom. 7:14–20). Often, in the Bible, the singular noun sin refers to the sin nature, which is actually a part of our cell structure (Rom. 7:14 1John 1:8). In short, all men are genetically disposed to sin.

3.      No man, with a sin nature, goes through life apart from personal sin. At some point in our lives, we move out of child-like innocence and intentionally commit sins. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). See also Rom. 5:12.

         1)      At some point in time, we will commit a mental attitude sin; we will look at someone else and we will feel superior to them—arrogance. Or, someone rubs us the wrong way, and we hate them. Or, someone has something that we want, and we envy that person.

         2)      At some point in time, we will commit a verbal sin. We will do something wrong, and when questioned about it by our parents, we lie. We dislike someone, so we gossip behind their back.

         3)      At some point in time, we will commit an overt act of sin; some child has a toy we like, and we steal it from him. He cries, so we slug him.

         4)      I still recall one of the first sins which I committed around the age or 4 or 5—stealing toys from a friend, toys which my soul coveted. Obviously, I could not simply have them out in the open to play with them, so I hid them in front of my house behind some bushes. It was entirely illogical, because there was no way that I could actually play with these toys out in the open.

4.      There are other barriers which stand between God and us. Because of Adam’s original sin has been imputed to us and because we have sinned against God, we have a judgment against us, which judgment demands our death. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 3:23a).

5.      Because we are born with a sin nature, we are born physically alive, but spiritually dead. This is something which we cannot fix on our own. We cannot decide one day to be spiritually alive; we have no way of establishing fellowship with God any more than we can physically ascending into heaven to be with God. Rom. 5:12–21

6.      We have temporal life, God is eternal life. In Adam, all die (1Cor. 15:22a). Rom. 5:17, 21

7.      As unbelievers, we are of our father the devil. We are not, by birth, children of God. We do not have, therefore, a familial relationship with God. Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear My word. You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.” (John 8:42–45).

8.      We do not have a way of appealing to God, no more than a dead man can reach out and appeal to us who are alive on any matter. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).

9.      We have relative righteousness (we can usually find someone whom we view as a moral inferior to us); God is perfect righteousness. All our righteousnesses are as a menstruation cloth (Isa. 64:6b). That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith [Gentiles, without the Law, believe in Jesus Christ and were saved]; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law [Israel had the Law, but did not achieve righteousness]. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works (Rom. 9:30b–32a). Criminals serving life sentences for multiple murders feel morally superior to child molesters. That is relative righteousness as well as self-righteousness (one of the most amoral people I know is also the most self-righteous person I know; he is so incredibly self-righteous and without any reason to be, that it makes me smile). In any case, God has no interest in our own personally developed concepts of righteousness.

10.    All of this puts us into a slave market, so to speak. We have no means by which we can purchase our freedom; we have no way of removing these barriers which are between us and God.

I first heard this doctrine from R. B. Thieme, Jr. in his booklet The Barrier. This doctrine was taken directly from the Illustration of the Slave Market of Sin (HTML) (PDF).


Chapter Outline

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Our passage reads: Look, I was born in iniquity and my mother conceived me in sin. This idea of a sin nature being a part of our cell structure from conception also introduces the controversy of, when are we considered human. Although R. B. Thieme, Jr. gives very persuasive arguments in his book The Origin of the Soul for human life beginning at birth (which is an orthodox position), I have trouble with the logical conclusion, which seems to be, abortion is not really killing a person, so having an abortion ought to be the decision of the mother and the doctor. This would mean that, all of the millions of abortions performed in the United States are of no meaning; they are simply the result of a choice, which has no moral ramifications. I have trouble with that, and lean more toward the idea that, God allowed for the conception of a child, and therefore we ought to respect the 9-month process which God has chosen for the child to be carried in the womb (just as we respect the several years it takes for a child to develop a vocabulary and the concept of right and wrong).


Now, is there a soul associated with the fetus inside of a mother? Bob answers this question by saying, there is a format soul within the body of a fetus. What that means exactly, is more difficult to quantify. We know that there are measurable electrical impulses in the brain of a 3 week old fetus, which indicates brain activity. Our brain obviously does much more than think; it activates and regulates the entire body. And our brain continues to develop, particularly as a child up through the teenage years. In fact, during this time period, we can dramatically change the entire life of a person by affecting this brain. Wild children are children who are brought up apart from human contact. Such children, if isolated, can grow to their teens without a vocabulary; and then, at that point, be completely unable to develop a vocabulary of more than 20 or 30 words (or, even less). A teen can be exposed to sexual stimulation or to drug stimulation, and change that teen’s life forever, as he will spend the rest of his life seeking out that stimulation. Footnote My point is, there is are important growth periods of the brain in a child’s youth, which growth periods ought not to be exploited by adults, as the brain has not yet fully developed.


Likewise, the brain of the fetus is also developing—and this development is so important, that many women change some of their behavior patterns while pregnant (most do not smoke, drink or use drugs).


I rarely disagree with the teaching of R. B. Thieme, Jr., but I do depart from it in this instance. He teaches that man becomes fully human at birth (at the first gulp of air, when God breathes into us life) and that abortion is a decision which ought to be left to the mother and the doctor (he supported the Supreme Court Decision Row v. Wade). This is covered in his book, The Origin of the Human Life. Footnote I could not tell you if he supported the millions of fetuses (babies?) destroyed because of Row v. Wade. It is my understanding that he did not believe in that, although I do not have any supporting evidence one way or the other.

Let me add, I do not have a dog in this fight. I do not have a need to agree with everything that Bob Thieme taught, nor do I have a need to find doctrinal differences with him. Furthermore, I have not dealt intimately with the act of abortion with anyone I know. I am sure women I know have had abortions. Whether liberal or conservative, women do not tend to want to brag about having an abortion.

Abortion—Logic and the Bible

1.      The biological approach: biologically speaking, what begins at conception and continues until birth is completely and fully human. That which is in the womb has a fully human cell structure as well as a unique design different from that of the mother or the father and unique in the world.

2.      You can make a philosophical or a religious argument which favors or allows for abortion, but you cannot make a biological argument which favors or allows for abortion. .

         1)      You can believe that ensoulment (when the soul enters the body) occurs when we are born, and therefore believe that which is in the womb is not fully human—but that is based upon a religious or philosophical belief.

         2)      You can make the philosophical argument that, this fetus in the womb is going to be born into a bad life and therefore should be killed in the womb; but the same argument is valid for any child which is already born. A child can be born into poverty and you can similarly argue, that child’s life will suck, so we ought to kill it. This particular argument is not based upon when a child is born or where the child is, with regards to the conception/birth process. This argument is based solely upon the environment the child is born into. One could take this exact same argument, and believe that it is most humane to go to parts of Africa and begin slaughtering children and forcing abortions upon the women there.

         3)      A person who comes at this problem from a scientific view—from a biological point of view—cannot make this argument that what is in the womb is not human. There is no biologist who will, on the basis of biology, argue that there is something other than a unique human being in the womb.

         4)      Theologically, we can talk about the ensoulment process; philosophically, we can talk about the importance of that fetus being brought to term and what sort of a world it will be subjected to; but biologically, that which is in the womb is 100% human.

3.      Similarly, a woman cannot argue that, it is her body and that she can do what she wants with it. She may argue this philosophically or she may argue this from a religious point of view, but she cannot make this argument from a scientific/biological point of view. Biologically, that which is in the womb is a human being who is different from the mother. It may be a different gender, and it have a different blood type or different eye color than the mother. No one can make the biological argument that what is in the womb is the mother, and therefore she can determine what ought to be done with it. What is in the womb is dependent upon the mother, just as a recently-born baby is dependent upon his mother; but biologically, this is a different human being than the mother.

4.      One can certainly make the philosophical argument that, an abortion would be better for the mother, say, in the instance of rape. However, no one can really argue that this is better for the child, as the child has no say in this matter. The child is unable to express his opinion on this matter until he is at least 5 years old.

5.      Although, it ought to be obvious that God has some part in the process of conception and the forming of the child in the womb, the Bible affirms this as well. Speaking of Jeremiah, God said, “Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5). Job 31:15 is a similar approach. It seems reasonable and logical to me that we respect this process with which God has chosen to work.

6.      God has chosen this entire process of being formed in the womb for the least and for the greatest. Our Lord’s humanity was clearly developed in the womb.

7.      Our bodies are made and fashioned in the womb of the mother. Job 31:15

8.      God uses the womb of the mother to protect the child. Psalm 139:13b reads: You have covered [and protected] me in my mother's womb. The verb here is çâkake (סָכַ) [pronounced saw-KAHKe], which means to weave [together], to make [a fence, hedge]; to protect, to guard; to cover over. Strong’s #5526 BDB #692, 696, 697. The sense of this verb seems to be more to cover and protect (Ex. 37:9 1Chron. 28:18 Psalm 140:7).

9.      The Bible uses the same designation for a child in the womb as a child outside of the womb.

         1)      The Greek noun brephos (βρέφος) [pronounced BREHF-oss], which means, 1) an unborn child, embryo, a foetus; 2) a new-born child, an infant, a babe. Thayer definitions only. Strong’s #1025. This is used in Luke 1:41, 44 for a child in the womb. It is used in Luke 2:12, 16 for a child in a manger. The emphasis seems to be upon not yet being grown or fully developed. 1Peter 2:2 2Tim. 3:15

         2)      The same is true of the Hebrew word geber (גֶּבֶר) [pronounced geb-VAIR], which means men, as separate from women and children. Strong’s #1397 #1399 BDB #149. This word is used of Job in the womb in Job 3:3, although this word is generally used of an adult male (Num. 24:3, 15).

10.    I would have a difficult time arguing for or against a fetus going to heaven as David’s young infant child (2Sam. 12:15–23). However, logically and religiously, one could argue, I know a baby will go to heaven, but I am not so certain about a fetus, so I will therefore give birth to the child and then kill it. This is a perverse argument, I admit, and one that will result in a charge of premeditated murder; but there is a religious logic to it. This argument dovetails with the argument that, this child’s life will suck, therefore, we ought to kill the child.

11.    However, it is clear from the Old Testament that God prefers life over death1:

         1)      The concept of "life" was regarded as the highest good, while "death" was seen as the worst evil. Hence the challenge found in Deuteronomy 30:19 "Today I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose Life, so that you and your children may live."

         2)      Man is not a chance or a mere assemblage of cells, but created in the image of God. Hence, the shedding of innocent blood was strictly forbidden. Genesis 9:6 Exodus 23:7 Prov. 6:16-17

         3)      Children are never seen as "unwanted" or as a nuisance, but as a gift from God -- the highest possible blessing. Psalm 127:3-5 113:9 Gen. 17:6 33:5

         4)      In a sense, there is an immortality achieved through one's descendants. God's "promise" to Abraham to make of him a great nation is passed on to Isaac, Jacob, and to Jacob’s sons. Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him (Psalm 127:3) See also Gen. 48:16

         5)      Sterility and barrenness are seen in the Bible as a curse, a source of great shame and sorrow. Hence, Peninnah's harsh ridicule of Hannah, the prophet Samuel's mother, because of the latter's initial barrenness. 1Samuel 1:6. Gen. 20:17-18 30:1, 22-23

         6)      God works in the womb fashioning the person there for His purposes. Psalm139:13-16 Isa. 49:1,5 Jer.1:5

         7)      In general, the people of the Old Testament saw life as the highest good and death the worst of evils; they saw man as being created in the image of God, and children as the highest possible blessing; they understood immortality as being achieved through one's descendants; they saw sterility and barrenness as a curse, and they believed that God is at work in the womb. It would be very difficult that this same people of God believed abortion to be the removal of meaningless cells from the woman’s body.

12.    Even though there is no clear prohibition of abortion in the Bible, the idea that the absence of a direct prohibition meant that women had a God-given right to kill their offspring would have been utterly foreign to the Hebrew culture of that day for the reasons cited above.2

13.    Early Judaism condemned the practice of abortion3:

         1)      The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides (written between 50 B.C. and A.D. 50) says, "A woman should not destroy the unborn babe in her belly, nor after its birth throw it before the dogs and vultures."

         2)      Sibyline Oracles: includes among the wicked those who "produce abortions and unlawfully cast their offspring away" as well as sorcerers who dispense abortifacients.

         3)      1Enoch (first or second century B.C.) says that an evil angel taught humans how to "smash the embryo in the womb."

         4)      Philo of Alexandria (Jewish philosopher, 25 B.C. to A.D.41) rejected the notion that the fetus is merely part of the mother's body.

         5)      Josephus (first-century Jewish historian) wrote, "The law orders all the offspring be brought up, and forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the fetus." (A woman who did so was considered to have committed infanticide because she destroyed a "soul" and hence diminished the race.)

14.    Early Christian writings also disapproved of abortion4:

         1)      The Didache: "You shall not murder a child by abortion nor shall you kill a newborn."

         2)      The Epistle of Barnabas: "You shall love your neighbor more than your own life. You shall not murder a child by abortion nor shall you kill a newborn."

         3)      Apocalypse of Peter [describing a vision of Hell]: "I saw women who produced children out of wedlock and who procured abortions."

         4)      Obviously, these texts are not the Bible, and therefore, they are not authoritative. However, these texts, writes Gorman, "bear witness to the general Jewish and Jewish-Christian attitude of the first and second centuries, thus confirming that the earliest Christians shared the anti-abortion position of their Jewish forebears."

         5)      Tertullian (circa 155 - 225 CE): "...we are not permitted, since murder has been prohibited to us once and for all, even to destroy ...the fetus in the womb. It makes no difference whether one destroys a life that has already been born or one that is in the process of birth." Tertullian, "Apology" (9:7-8)

         6)      http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_hist.htm lists a number of early Christians who specifically were opposed to abortion.

         7)      Although, it is clear that early Jewish and Christian tradition is not the basis of our faith, it also provides us with the thinking of those who are our spiritual heritage.

         8)      As an aside, there were some early saints who did not believe that abortion was a sin, including St. Augustine and St. Jerome. http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_hist.htm It is rather ironic that the two earliest saints claimed by the Catholic church were in favor of abortion.

15.    The verse often quoted by both sides of this controversy is Exodus 21:22-25: "And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if any harm [= evil, mischief, hurt] follows, then you must take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise. "

         1)      It is clear that God is speaking of a miscarriage here.

         2)      There are several possible outcomes: the mother and child survive; the mother survives and the child does not; the child survives and the mother does not; neither the mother nor child survive.

         3)      The phrase there is no further injury logically suggests that mother and child survive; however, there is still a fine levied for this.

         4)      If any harm follows does not distinguish between the mother and child. Let’s say, the child was born blind as a result; would there be no penalty?

         5)      Furthermore, the child would like take a breath as exiting the womb, so using this verse to argue for or against abortion based upon ensoulment (when we receive the human soul) is rather futile. The Bible does not distinguish here, either between the mother or the child or between the child taking a breath when born or not.

         6)      It is illogical to try to interpret in this text such distinctions where the text itself does not explicitly teach such distinctions.

         7)      See http://www.priestsforlife.org/speakersmanual/ch4theologicalcasebible.htm for further commentary on this passage.

16.    Logically, no matter how much a mother talks about what is best for the child when having an abortion, she is really choosing what she believes to be best for her. She is going to destroy the fetus inside of her; this fetus has absolutely no choice in the matter. Obviously, in those few instances of rape and incest, the mother is going to have a variety of feelings about the child, from wanting to give it the best possible life to wanting to destroy it. That is the nature of pregnancy compounded with the sin of rape or incest compounded by whatever mental attitude sins the mother may entertain. Ultimately, when the mother makes the choice, it is really all about the mother and not about the child.

17.    So, what about R. B. Thieme, Jr.’s approach that, when each child is born, God breathes into that child the breath of lives, which pattern was set for us with Adam in Gen. 2:7?

         1)      Biologically, in the womb, our bodies function with the use of oxygen, although not by using our lungs.

         2)      As we have covered in our study of Psalm 51, the sin nature is a part of the genetic makeup of the child in the womb.

         3)      The Bible does not specifically distinguish between the life of the woman and the child when a miscarriage is caused, treating the child’s life as less important.

         4)      There are several passages where the child in the womb is given specific identity.

         5)      So, even though there is a certain beauty to the logic that we receive our soul at birth, breathed into us by God, I have a difficult time reconciling that with women using abortion as a form of after-the-fact birth control.

         6)      Therefore, since God has allowed conception to take place, I would take the stand that we ought to respect the process which God has chosen for the development of a child in the womb, and to not interrupt that process.

         7)      If the life of the woman is actually in danger, I would choose the mother over the child; but this is far less than 1% of the abortions which are performed.

         8)      As callous as this may seem, I do not favor aborting children conceived by rape or by incest. Again, this is a very tiny percentage of the abortions which are performed. This is also based upon having seen a public speaker who thanked her birth mother for giving birth to her, even though her birth mother was impregnated by a rapist.

18.    Since it is quite difficult for me to make a determination about what quality of life exists within the soul, I then look at those who favor abortions and those who are against them. We have those on the political left who support abortions. They say, abortions ought to be safe, legal and rare; however, their policies make abortions abundant to the point where, now, about 2 out of 5 women have an abortion. Furthermore, even though those on the left seem to think that knowledge of things sexual are absolutely necessary for all children, they do not believe that women seeking an abortion should know much about anything. They don’t want them to have a sonogram; they don’t want them to see a film of an abortion occurring for the time period they are thinking about; they don’t want them to know about what exactly is in their bodies at the time that they want an abortion. Given that this is the side which supports abortion, I would rather be on the other side of this controversy.

         1)      One of the pro-abortion sites that I visited (http://www.elroy.net/ehr/abortion.html) argued in favor of abortion with the verse: Let the day perish in which I am born, And the night that said: `A man-child hath been conceived.' (Job 3:3). Their reasoning was, Job’s life sucked so bad when he wrote those words that aborting him would have been a good thing. The lack of logic here is stunning. God chose Job to develop unique information about God and the Angelic Conflict; Job’s life and suffering is integral to Biblical thinking—so how can anyone argue that, God is saying here that, abortion for Job would have been the way to go? Isn’t this really expressing Job’s personal sorrow rather than God’s preference that Job had been aborted?

         2)      There was even a group which was trying to get women to wear a badge or a ribbon indicating that they are proud to have had an abortion. For some reason, that never really caught on, even with liberals. Would anyone wear a badge saying, “I killed the fetus in my womb; yay me!”

19.    Let me offer a logical and theological reason against abortion: we believers are made up of a soul, a spirit and a body. God does not view the body as unimportant. When we are raised from the dead, we will be raised in a resurrection body. There are offshoots of Christianity which teach Platonist concepts, such as the soul yearns to be free of the human body, so that it can be pure; but Bible does not teach that we will spend eternity separated from our bodies. God has specifically determined that our eternity will be spent in a resurrection body. Therefore, even if the cells being formed in the womb merely represents a body and a format soul, that is not reason enough to view aborting the fetus as a trivial and nonmoral choice. If God places us into resurrection bodies in eternity and human bodies in time, then we ought not to take His process of forming the body as an unimportant matter.

20.    The creation/making of the body is never presented as a trivial thing.

         1)      The body is made by God before He breathed the breath of lives into it. Gen. 2:7

         2)      God uses the womb of the mother to protect the child. Psalm 139:13b

         3)      God has clothed us with a human body, which protects the soul. Job 10:11

         4)      The thickest and strongest bone of our body is our skull, which protects the brain.

         5)      In eternity, we will have a resurrection body. 1Cor. 15

         6)      If God makes and protects the human body, ought we not to do the same?

21.    Based upon the explicit Bible verses above, as well as upon logic, I remain unconvinced that a cavalier attitude toward abortion is the right approach (between 1–1.5 million abortions performed each year in the United States is a pretty cavalier approach).

22.    Whereas, I am not completely decided when it comes to ensoulment (when our souls and bodies become one), I am convinced that abortion simply as a method of after-the-fact birth control is wrong. Whatever kind of life is in the womb is a process set up by God and ought not to be interfered with.

23.    Therefore, when faced with this controversy, I would rather stand on the side of life.

1 From: http://www.priestsforlife.org/speakersmanual/ch4theologicalcasebible.htm

2 From: http://www.priestsforlife.org/speakersmanual/ch4theologicalcasebible.htm

3 From: http://www.priestsforlife.org/speakersmanual/ch4theologicalcasebible.htm These examples apparently were lifted from Michael Gorman’s article "Why Is the New Testament Silent About Abortion?" (Christianity Today, Jan. 11, 1993).

4 As above.

Possibly a worthy book to pursue this topic further would be: Michael Gorman, Abortion & the Early Church, Intervarsity Press, 1982. Let me also suggest Handbook on Abortion which can be purchased for shipping costs alone.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


——————————


Behold, truth You desire [or, take pleasure in] in the inward parts;

and in secret wisdom You cause me to know.

Psalm

51:6

Listen, You desire [and take pleasure in] truth in the inner being;

and You make me know wisdom in [my] hidden [being].

Point of doctrine: You both desire and take pleasure in truth in the inner person

and You cause me to know wisdom in my soul.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          For behold You have loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of Your wisdom You have made manifest to me.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        Behold, truth You desire [or, take pleasure in] in the inward parts;

and in secret wisdom You cause me to know.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Behold, You desire truth, and the hidden things of Your wisdom You have made known to me.

Septuagint (Greek)                For behold, You love truth; You have manifested to me the secret and hidden things of Your wisdom.

 

Significant differences:           The Greek has for behold rather than simply behold. That appears to be the case for the Latin as well.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       But you want complete honesty, so teach me true wisdom.

Easy English (Churchyard)    But you want me to be good

and you want to teach me how to live in the proper way.

Easy-to-Read Version            God, you want me to be truly loyal,

so put true wisdom deep inside of me.

Good News Bible (TEV)         Sincerity and truth are what you require; fill my mind with your wisdom.

The Message                         What you're after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

New Century Version             You want me to be completely truthful,

so teach me wisdom.

New Living Translation           But you desire honesty from the womb [Psalm 51:6 Or from the heart; Hebrew reads in the inward parts.],

teaching me wisdom even there.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          {Look!} You've loved [exposing] the truth, about all things that are hidden, and the wisdom of what's hidden You have shown me.

Ancient Roots Translinear      Inward truth pleasures you. I know wisdom is blocked here.

God’s Word                         Yet, you desire truth and sincerity. Deep down inside me you teach me wisdom.

New American Bible              Still, you insist on sincerity of heart;

in my inmost being teach me wisdom.

NIRV                                      I know that you want truth to be in my heart.

You teach me wisdom deep down inside me.

New Jerusalem Bible             But you delight in sincerity of heart, and in secret you teach me wisdom.

Revised English Bible            You desire faithfulness in the inmost being,

so teach me wisdom in my heart.

Today’s NIV                          Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;

you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

New Simplified Bible              Yet, you desire truth from the secret person within me. Deep down inside me teach me wisdom.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             Your desire is for what is true in the inner parts: in the secrets of my soul you will give me knowledge of wisdom.

Complete Jewish Bible           Still, you want truth in the inner person; so make me know wisdom in my inmost heart.

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Indeed You desire truth about that which is hidden,

teach me wisdom about secret things [meaning of Hebrew of this verse is uncertain].

NET Bible®                             Look [The juxtaposition of two occurrences of "look" in vv. 5-6 draws attention to the sharp contrast between the sinful reality of the psalmist's condition and the lofty ideal God has for him.], you desire [The perfect is used in a generalizing sense here.] integrity in the inner man [Heb "in the covered [places]," i.e., in the inner man.];

you want me to possess wisdom [Heb "in the secret [place] wisdom you cause me to know." The Hiphil verbal form is causative, while the imperfect is used in a modal sense to indicate God's desire (note the parallel verb "desire").].

NIV – UK                                Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.

Concordant Literal Version    Behold, You delight in truth even in the hidden parts, And in the secret parts You cause me to know wisdom.".

English Standard Version      Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

exeGeses companion Bible   Behold, you desire truth in the reins;

and in the hidden you have me know wisdom.

MKJV                                     Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part You shall make me to know wisdom.

NRSV                                     You desire truth in the inward being;*

therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Syndein                                  Behold, You desire Truth/Doctrine in the inward parts. {metabolized into the norms and standards of the conscience of your soul - 'Your Thinking the Viewpoint of God'} And in the hidden part You cause me to know wisdom.

Young’s Updated LT             Lo, truth You have desired in the inward parts, And in the hidden pare Wisdom You cause me to know.

 

The gist of this verse:          Over and over again, the Bible tells us of the importance of Bible doctrine in the soul. This is one more passage with that viewpoint.


Psalm 51:6a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

hên (הֵן) [pronounced hayn]

lo!, behold, observe, look, look here, get this, listen, listen up

demonstrative adverb/interjection

Strong’s #2005 BDB #243

ʾěmeth (אֱמֶת) [pronounced EH-meth]

firmness, faithfulness, truth, certainty, stability, perpetuity, fidelity, reliable, stable, dependable

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #571 BDB #54

châphêts (חָפֵץ) [pronounced khaw-FATES]

to will, to desire, to take pleasure in, to delight in, to long to, to be inclined to; to move, to bend down

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #2654 BDB #342

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

ţûchôwth (טֻחוֹת) [pronounced too-KHOATH]

inner being; inward parts, inner regions, hidden recesses; reins

feminine plural noun with the definite article

Strong’s #2910 BDB #376


Translation: Listen, You desire [and take pleasure in] truth in the inner being;... God wills for there to be truth in our inner being. God desires for there to be truth in our inner being. God takes pleasure when there is truth in our inner being.


The inner being is actually a plural noun, referring to the various facet of the soul. Our souls are made up of mentality, volition, self-consciousness, a conscience, vocabulary, emotion and the old sin nature. What God desires is for truth to fill up the soul and have an effect upon each and every facet of the soul (including the suppression of the sin nature through naming one’s sins to God). Just as we fill up our souls with knowledge in school, which permeates our thinking, God expects the same to occur when it comes to Bible doctrine.


The soul is made up of mentality, volition, self consciousness, conscience, vocabulary, emotion and the sin nature. Bible doctrine in the soul has an affect on every facet of the soul.

Doctrine and the Facets of Our Souls

Facet of the Soul

The Effect of Doctrine

Mentality

God wants us to think doctrine. Rom. 12:2 Philip. 2:5 4:8

Volition

God wants us to make decisions based upon the Bible doctrine in our souls. Quite obviously, salvation is not based upon having a religious faith in God, but having faith in Jesus Christ specifically (Psalm 34:22 John 3:16, 36). We must similarly direct our faith and therefore our volition toward that which is true. Joshua 24:15 Psalm 86:11 John 19:35 Heb. 11:1–3

Self-consciousness

God wants us to go beyond simple self-consciousness and to develop a personal sense of destiny. This means that we not only understand that God has a plan for our lives but that this plan can be learned through Bible doctrine. A complete examination of this doctrine: http://www.wenstrom.org/downloads/written/prep/basic/psd.pdf But according to His promise we are looking forward with confidence to a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness lives. Therefore, beloved, since you are looking forward with confidence to these things, be self-motivated to be found by Him in a state of prosperity, spotless and blameless (2Peter 3:13–14).

Conscience

The norms and standards in our soul ought to be based upon the correct norms and standards of Bible doctrine. 2Cor. 1:12 Heb. 9:9

Vocabulary

All disciplines have a specialized vocabulary. God wants us to have a vocabulary based upon Bible doctrine. Here is an excellent site with the vocabulary of Bible doctrine laid out: http://rickhughesministries.org/content/Biblical-Terms.pdf Related to this, I have mentioned the wild children, and one thing that they have in common is, little or no stimulation in their young years, resulting in almost no vocabulary and an inability to develop a vocabulary.

Emotion

Although emotion should not run our souls, there are times when our emotion will respond to a particular doctrine or to the doctrine expressed in a song, movie, play or article. However, we are not to allow emotions to rule our souls, because that is akin to having intestines filled with waste. Footnote Rom. 16:17–18

The old sin nature

The sin nature is the distorter of the soul. It corrupts the other facets of our soul. We control the sin nature by allowing ourselves to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Rom. 6:12–13 1Cor. 11:31 Eph. 5:22 1John 1:9

R. B. Thieme, Jr. gave this breakdown of the soul: self-consciousness is I am; volition is I will; mentality

is I think; and the conscience is I ought. Footnote


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Psalm 51:6b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

çâtham (סָתַם) [pronounced saw-THAHM]

hidden, secret [part, area]

Qal passive participle

Strong’s #5640 BDB #979

châkemâh (חָכְמָה) [pronounced khawke-MAW]

wisdom [in all realms of life], doctrine in the soul; skill [in war]

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #2451 BDB #315

yâdaʿ (יָדַע) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to cause to know, to make one know, to instruct, to teach

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect; with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393


Translation: ...and You make me know wisdom in [my] hidden [being]. In the second half of this verse, David speaks of God causing him to know wisdom in his hidden being. It is the soul which is hidden. You cannot see the soul of anyone else. You may observe them saying or doing things which reveals what is in their soul, but we are unable to see another person’s soul. God wants this part of our being to be filled with knowledge and wisdom.


Peter approaches this from the view of the wife being submissive to her husband. Her life is not to be marked by an emphasis upon or hair or makeup or what she wears on the outside of her body, but upon how she adorns her soul (1Peter 3:1–4).


Point of doctrine: You both desire and take pleasure in truth in the inner person and You cause me to know wisdom in my soul. It is quite fascinating that this verse is written by David as a part of his confession of sin. When David was a teenager, and sent by his family to watch over their flocks in the fields, Samuel came to his family’s home to anoint David king over all Israel. Compared to his brothers, David did not seem like very much. But Jehovah said to Samuel, “Do not look on his face, nor on his height, because I have refused him. For He does not see as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart.” (1Sam. 16:7)


What we find in the Bible, over and over again, is an emphasis upon truth and an emphasis upon knowing God’s truth. This does not just accidentally happen. God has a system by which we learn His truth. In the New Testament, it is going to a church which teaches the Bible, verse by verse, whose doors are open as often as possible (at least 3 times a week, and one ought to devote an hour a day to learning God’s Word).


Here are a few points from The Importance of Bible Doctrine (HTML) (PDF).

The Importance of Bible Doctrine

1.      Jesus’ growth was related to the knowledge of Bible doctrine. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom. And the grace of God was on Him (Luke 2:40). And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). Ask yourself, how does God increase in wisdom? God does not increase in wisdom; His knowledge is infinite and unchanging. However, Jesus, in His humanity, increased in wisdom. He did not depend upon His deity to grow spiritually. Jesus, in the Age of the Hypostatic Union, set the pattern for all believers in the Church Age. Paul told the Philippians: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philip. 2:5).

2.      Knowing the Word of God was as important in the Old Testament as it is in the New.

         1)      Moses told his people: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as bands between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6–9). Jews were to saturate the lives of their children with the Word of God.

         2)      David wrote about the intake of doctrine; to God, he wrote: Listen, You [God] desire [and You take pleasure in] truth in the inner being; and You make me know wisdom in [my] hidden [being]. (Psalm 51:6).

         3)      The teaching of the Word of God took place in a number of areas—in the high places or at the gates, the entrance into the cities (Prov. 8:1–3, where Bible doctrine is called wisdom). Here are a few verses taken out of Prov. 8: "I [wisdom] call out to all of you, and my appeal is to all people. You gullible people, learn how to be sensible. You fools, cause your heart to understand. Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” (Prov. 8:4–5, 10–11).

         4)      Believers were to seek the Word of God in the Old Testament, and to recognize that God’s way of thinking was not their way of thinking. "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:6–9).

         5)      Believers in the Old Testament were not to depend upon their own understanding. Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths [i.e., He will guide you] (Prov. 3:5–6).

         6)      Bible doctrine is the source of happiness, a longer life, and a more peaceful and pleasant existence. Happinesses to the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace [and prosperity]. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed (Prov. 3:13–18).

3.      The renovation of your thinking is the key to the Christian life. Paul urges the Romans: Do not be conformed to this time period, but be transformed by the renovation of your thinking, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and complete will of God (Rom. 12:2).

4.      The Word of God (Bible doctrine) is different from human thinking and human wisdom. Prov. 3:5–6 Isa. 55:6–9 1Thess. 2:13

5.      The key is not how you feel or how zealous you are for the Lord; the key is knowledge of Bible doctrine. Brothers, my deep desire and my prayer to God is for Israel, that they may be saved. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the fulfillment of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom. 10:1–4). The example given is, Jews who are industrious and emotionally committed to some form of religion, but they do not understand imputed righteousness, so they, therefore, attempt to establish their own righteousness. They come up short because of a lack of knowledge.

6.      It is fundamentally important that the Word of God is not changed, adulterated or twisted. 2Cor. 2:17 4:2 1Tim. 4:1 Titus 1:9–11

7.      Paul urged the Colossians to let the word of Christ live inside of them abundantly. Col. 3:16

8.      Those who teach the word of God are doubly honored. 1Tim. 5:17

9.      Paul told Timothy, who taught the Word of God: Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who ought not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (1Tim. 2:15).

10.    We purchase time through knowledge of the Word of God. Take great care, then, how you live--not unwisely but wisely, making the most of every opportunity [lit., purchasing the time, which means to get doctrine at your every opportunity]; for these are evil days. Therefore do not be stupid, but keep on comprehending what the Lord's will is (Eph. 5:15–17). God does not text you or send you emails as to what His will is; this is found in the Word of God.

11.    So there is no misunderstanding, we are not required by God to go to the Word of God and dig out Bible doctrine for ourselves. This is why God provided pastor-teachers for us. We are not renegades roaming about in groups of one.

12.    Timothy’s ministry was all about teaching. 2Tim. 2:–14–16 4:2–4

13.    One area where believers become confused is, they are told to be obedient to those teaching them (Heb. 13:17). This does not mean that your pastor follows you around and gives you a list of sins that you have committed and now you need to stop committing those sins. The verb found here is the present middle/passive imperative of peithô (πείθω) [pronounced PIE-thoh], which means, to persuade; to induce one by words to believe. Strong’s #3982. The passive voice means, the believer is to allow himself to be convinced or persuaded of the truth of Bible doctrine as taught by his pastor. The imperative mood means, he is mandated to do so. The present tense is linear or durative action. That is, you continually to be persuaded, which means, you think about Bible doctrine continually.

14.    Quite obviously, the epistles themselves are a well of Church Age doctrine, which information is dug out by a pastor-teacher and presented to his congregation.

15.    The Old Testament is not to be ignored either. Jesus taught the Old Testament and the epistles are filled with illustrations from the Old Testament. Rom. 3 Heb. 4 10 11 Jude 7

16.    There are 2 words in the New Testament related to this topic which are used, at times, in a very technical sense:

         1)      There is simple knowledge, called gnôsis (γνσις) [pronounced GNOH-sis] which means, [general] knowledge, understanding. Strong’s #1108. If you recall the verse, Knowledge puffs up; this is gnôsis. We also find this word in Rom. 2:20, which speaks of having a form of knowledge.

         2)      Then there is over-and-above knowledge: epignôsis (ἐπίγνωσις) [pronounced ehp-IHG-noh-sis], which means, 1) precise and correct knowledge 1a) used in the NT of the knowledge of things ethical and divine. Strong’s #1922. This is Bible doctrine which is believed.

         3)      Having an understanding of Biblical terms and information from the Bible is simply information unless you believe it. When you believe it, it becomes spiritually useful. It is transformed from gnôsis into epignôsis.

         4)      For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, not being mixed by faith by those who listened (Heb. 4:2). See also 1Thess. 2:13 2Thess. 2:13 Heb. 3:18–19 11:6

         5)      James calls this the implanted word in James 1:21. The adjective that he uses means inborn, implanted by nature, implanted by others instruction. He amplifies this by distinguishing between a hearer of the Word and a doer of the Word (James 1:22–25). This is James’ vocabulary, as opposed to Paul’s. This does not mean that you read the verse, “Help little old ladies walk across the street” and so you immediately run outside, find some little old lady, and help her across the street. You implant the Word of God in your soul through faith. You believe the Word of God, and it becomes a part of your understanding of the world. Automatically, once you believe something, it will affect your life and what you do.

         6)      This is how you grow spiritually. When Bible doctrine is simply academic knowledge, it is much easier to forget; and since it has not become a part of your soul, you are unable to put it into a whole system of thinking, where spiritual things are compared with other spiritual things. 1Cor. 2:13 James 1:23–25

         7)      When Bible doctrine is not believed, John speaks of the Word not being in us. 1John 1:10 (this is someone asserting that he does not sin, which is contrary to the teaching of the Word of God).

17.    The difference between an immature believer and a mature believer is the word of righteousness. Those who are taking in the most basic of doctrines are spiritual infants; those who take in advanced doctrines are mature believers (obviously, these doctrines must be believed). For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God's revelation. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature--for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil (Heb. 5:12–14). See also 1Cor. 3:1 14:20 Eph. 4:14 1Peter 2:2. In other words, you are not a mature believer simply because you have been a Christian for a long time, and you don’t sin as much as you used to. Morality is essential to the preservation of a national entity, but simply improving your morality is not the Christian way of life.

         1)      The Apostle John has a slightly different vocabulary. He has a much more limited Greek vocabulary than Paul, so he speaks of keeping (guarding, protecting) the Word, which results in the perfecting (completing) of the love of God in us (which is synonymous with spiritual maturity). 1John 2:5

18.    Peter makes one of the most amazing statements in the Bible. He saw the glorified Jesus Christ, something which we can barely imagine. He and James and John saw Jesus transformed on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matt. 17:1–9. However, even more important than this thing which he saw with his own eyes is the Bible doctrine which he was writing and disseminating. When we apostles told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we did not base our message on clever myths that we made up. Rather, we were eye-witnesses to His majesty with our own eyes [Peter saw the glorified Jesus Christ with his own eyes]. For example, we were eyewitnesses when He received honor and glory from God the Father and when the voice of our majestic God spoke these words to him: "This is my Son, whom I love and in whom I delight." We heard that voice speak to him from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain [Peter heard the very voice of God with his own ears]. We also keep on having a stable word of prophecy [Peter and his associates know and teach Bible doctrine] that you would do well to keep on being attentive to, as a light that shines in a dark place as you wait for day to come and the morning star to rise in your hearts. First, you must understand this: No prophecy in Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation. No prophecy ever originated from man. Instead, it was given by the Holy Spirit as men spoke under God's direction (2Peter 1:16–21). Peter has the gall to compare what he is writing to (1) seeing the glorified Christ and hearing God speak and to (2) the accepted prophecies of the Old Testament.

19.    Finally, consider what God left us: the Bible, which is 1000+ pages, some of which is easy to understand; some which seems easy but is not, and some material which is quite difficult to grasp. Personally, I have been studying for 30+ years, and I still have a long ways to go. God did not give us a 20 page or 50 pages rule book, or short set of morality laws. What He left for us is far more complex, and takes far more than a lifetime to fully understand.

This entire doctrine is found here:

http://kukis.org/Doctrines/doctrineimportance.htm

http://kukis.org/Doctrines/doctrineimportance.pdf

Other places where you can read about the Importance of Bible Doctrine. Most of these studies are very different and approach this topic in a different way. I cannot vouch for all of the teachers below, but this particular teaching in each case appears to be accurate:


http://www.lakeeriebiblechurch.org/Doctrine/pdf/ImportanceofBibleDoctrine.pdf

http://www.versebyverse.org/doctrine/importanceofBD.html

http://www.swordofthespiritbibleministries.com/RJSonnet/RJSonnetNOTES/Doc%20of%20the%20Importance%20of%20Bible%20Doctrine.pdf

http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/doctrine/idoctrin.htm

http://www.realtime.net/~wdoud/topics/doctrine_importance.html

http://www.gospelway.com/bible/bible-importance.php

http://www.biblebc.com/forpreachers/SermonVault/Christian%20Growth/sound_doctrine.htm


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


David, speaking to God, writes: Listen, You desire [and take pleasure in] truth in the inner being; and You make me know wisdom in [my] hidden [being]. So, even though this is a psalm about David’s change of mind toward his sin and a confession of that sin to God, the next step is reestablishing his relationship to God through knowledge of Bible doctrine. The Christian life is not sitting around, thinking great deep thoughts about God in some sort of meditative state, nor is it entering into some trance and/or emotional state. Our relationship to God is developed by knowledge of Who and What God is, which information is found in the Bible. God desires for us to have truth in our inner being—in fact, He takes pleasure in that. God made David know wisdom (Bible doctrine) in his soul. This does not just happen because someone is a Christian, nor does it occur when one enters into an altered state of consciousness from time to time. This occurs because one sits under the authority of a pastor-teacher who imparts wisdom from the pulpit. That is the assignment of a pastor-teacher. Our assignment is to find a pastor-teacher who teaches the truth and put ourselves under his authority. And, as an aside, this does not mean that the pastor-teacher follows us around and tells us what to do. His authority is based upon the Word of God, and we learn Bible doctrine in a classroom-type setting every day that the church doors are open.


It ought to give you great reassurance that here we have David writing one of the greatest psalms ever written, yet he has been, over the past year or so, an absolute failure with respect to the plan of God. He takes some married woman and possibly even rapes her? Then he has her husband killed in battle? Most of us do not know unbelievers who have done things like this, and here we have David, a great man of the Bible, having committed these heinous acts; and, within a few months, writing these great words of doctrine. This should indicate to you that, no matter how you have failed—and we have all failed—no matter how much your conscience has been seared by the evil which you have done—you still have a place in the plan of God. In the case of David, his greatest days lay before him. This does not mean that he will do everything right from hereon in—quite the contrary—but he will get back into fellowship and his life will be great.


Application: Now, just in case you are getting ideas about what you can get away with, make certain that you study the rest of David’s life, because he is going to face 10 years of severe pressure to guide him back into greatness. At most, his sin with Bathsheba lasted a few hours. This is counterbalanced with 10 years of discipline (which is not really discipline, but suffering for blessing).


Application: Let me give you a simple example. Let’s say you are a married man with children and you choose to have an affair. This affair might last an evening and it might last a few years, but the total time that you spend with the woman who is not your wife is probably less than a week, when taken in total. Once this affairs comes to light, you marriage may never get back on track. The love and trust that you both had many never be restored. Your relationship with your children may never be the same; and the worst things which they do in their lives may be a direct result of this affair which you have had. My point is, even if God is not in the picture, you can screw up the next 10 or 20 years of your life for a week of pleasure, from simply the natural results of your sin. Not only that, but your actions can affect the decisions and actions of your children and, as a result, the actions and decisions of their children. You do not sin in a vacuum.


So that I am clear on this point, you can sin, confess that sin, and God immediately forgives you. However, that does not mean that everything to do with this sin is now past. God may have removed you from that sin, but that sin may impact your life and the lives of others for decades. People you don’t even know can be affected by this sin.


——————————


You will bear my blame in hyssop and I will be cleansed;

You will wash me and from snow I will be made white.

Psalm

51:7

You will bear my blame [or, take the consequences for my sin; make a sin offering for me] with hyssop and I will be cleansed;

You will wash me and I will be made white more than snow.

With hyssop, You will take the consequences of my sin and I will be cleansed;

You will wash me and I will become as white as snow.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Latin Vulgate                          You will sprinkle me with hyssop, and I will be cleansed: you will wash me, and I will be made whiter than snow.

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        You will bear my blame in hyssop and I will be cleansed;

You will wash me and from snow I will be made white.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Septuagint (Greek)                You shall sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be purified; You shall wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

 

Significant differences:           The Hebrew word here does not mean to sprinkle, as is found in the other ancient languages. The min preposition from can mean more than, which explains the translations from the other languages.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       Wash me with hyssop until I am clean and whiter than snow.

Easy English (Churchyard)    Make me clean with hyssop and I shall be really clean.

Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.

Easy-to-Read Version            Use the hyssop plant and do the ceremony

to make me pure.

Wash me until I am whiter than snow!.

Good News Bible (TEV)         Remove my sin, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

The Message                         Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean, scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life.

New Century Version             Take away my sin, and I will be clean.

Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

New Living Translation           Purify me from my sins [Hebrew Purify me with the hyssop branch.], and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          So, sprinkle me now with branches of hyssop, so I can then become cleansed; wash me with the snow from above, so I can also be whitened.

Ancient Roots Translinear      Cleanse my sinning with hyssop. Launder me whiter than snow.

God’s Word                         Purify me from sin with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

New American Bible              Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;

wash me, make me whiter than snow.

NIRV                                      Make me pure by sprinkling me with hyssop plant. Then I will be clean.

Wash me. Then I will be whiter than snow.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             Make me free from sin with hyssop: let me be washed whiter than snow.

Complete Jewish Bible           Sprinkle me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Judaica Press Complete T.    Purify me with a hyssop, and I will become pure; wash me, and I will become whiter than snow.

NET Bible®                             Sprinkle me [The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist's wish or request.] with water [Heb "cleanse me with hyssop." "Hyssop" was a small plant (see 1 Kgs 4:33) used to apply water (or blood) in purification rites (see Exod 12:22; Lev 14:4-6, 49-52; Num 19:6-18. The psalmist uses the language and imagery of such rites to describe spiritual cleansing through forgiveness.] and I will be pure [After the preceding imperfect, the imperfect with vav (?) conjunctive indicates result.];

wash me [The imperfect verbal form is used here to express the psalmist's wish or request.] and I will be whiter than snow [I will be whiter than snow. Whiteness here symbolizes the moral purity resulting from forgiveness (see Isa 1:18).].


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean [ceremonially]; wash me, and I shall [in reality] be whiter than snow.

Concordant Literal Version    Expiate me with the hyssop, and I shall be clean; Rinse me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

LTHB                                     Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

NASB                                     Purify me [Or May You purify...that I may be clean] with hyssop [Ex 12:22; Lev 14:4; Num 19:18; Heb 9:19], and I shall be clean;

Wash me [Or May You wash], and I shall be whiter than snow [Is 1:18].

World English Bible                Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Young's Updated LT              Cleanse me with hyssop and I am clean, Washest me, and than snow I am white.

 

The gist of this verse:          David looked for God to take upon Him his sins, and, as a result, David would be made as white as snow before Him.


Psalm 51:7a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

châţâʾ (חָטָא) [pronounced khaw-TAW]

to bear the blame [for sin], to take the consequences for sin; to bear loss; to make a sin offering; to purify from sin [uncleanness]

2nd person masculine singular, Piel imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #2398 BDB #306

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

ʾêzôwb (אֵזוֹב) [pronounced ay-ZOBE]

hyssop [a plant used for religious and medicinal purposes]

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #231 BDB #23

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ţâhêr (טָהֵר) [pronounced taw-HAIR

to be cleansed [clean, pure] [physically, of disease; ceremonially, of uncleanness]; to purify, to be clean morally, to be made clean; to declare clean

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #2891 BDB #372


Translation: You will bear my blame [or, take the consequences for my sin; make a sin offering for me] with hyssop and I will be cleansed;...


In pretty much every translation, the first verb is translated to purge, to purify. So, imagine my surprise when I found it had other meanings, which were virtually ignored by most translators. You may recognize that, in the Qal stem (the primary stem), this word means to sin, to miss the mark, to incur guilt. However, according to BDB, the Piel (intensive stem) of châţâʾ (חָטָא) [pronounced khaw-TAW] means to bear loss; to make a sin-offering; to purify from sin; to purify from uncleanness. Footnote According to Gesenius, which lexicon I prefer, the Piel meanings of this verb are: to bear the blame, to take the consequences for sin; to offer for sin; to be a sin offering; to expiate, to cleanse [by a sacred ceremony]. Footnote Strong’s #2398 BDB #306. In other words, we clearly have substitutionary vindication here. David will be cleansed because God will bear his blame; God will take upon Himself the consequences of David’s sin.


We do have this additional word, hyssop; so let’s look at that.

The Doctrine of Hyssop

1.      The hyssop is a plant used for cleansing purposes.

2.      According to ISBE, the common hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) of the Natural Order Labiatae, an aromatic plant with stomatic properties, which cannot be the hyssop of the Bible as it is unknown in Palestine.

3.      Therefore, ISBE suggests that hyssop is probably identical with the Arabic zat‛ar, a name applied to a group of aromatic plants of the genus marjoram and thyme. They would any of them furnish a bunch suitable for sprinkling, and they have the important recommendation that they grow everywhere, being found even in the desert. Post thinks of all varieties the Origanum maru, a special variety of marjoram which favors terrace walls and rocks, is the most probable.

4.      Smith offers up 3 theories:

         1)      The common hyssop is "a shrub with low, bushy stalks 1½ feet high, small pear shaped, close-setting opposite leaves on all the stalks and branches terminated by erect whorled spikes of flowers of different colors in the varieties. It is a hardy plant, with an aromatic smell and a warm, pungent taste; a native of the south of Europe and the East." -- Editor).

         2)      Bochart decides in favor of marjoram, or some plant like it, and to this conclusion, it must be admitted, all ancient tradition points. (This is the Origanum maru, the z'atar of the Arabs. The French consul at Sidon, exhibited to Dr. Thomson ("The Land and the Book," i. 161), a specimen of this "having the fragrance of thyme, with a hot, pungent taste, and long slender stems." Dr. Post of Beirut, in the American edition of Smith's large Dictionary, favors this view. -- Editor).

         3)      But Dr.Royle, after a careful investigation of the subject, arrives at the conclusion that the hyssop is no other than the caperplant, or Capparis spinosa of Linnaeus. The Arabic name of this plant, asuf, by which it is sometimes, though not commonly, described, bears considerable resemblance to the Hebrew. "It is a bright-green creeper, which climbs from the fissures of the rocks, is supposed to possess cleansing properties, and is capable of yielding a stick to which a sponge might be attached." -- Stanky, "Sinai and Palestine," 23. -- It produces a fruit the size of a walnut, called the mountain pepper.

5.      The hyssop was originally associated with the first Passover. It was dipped into he blood of the sacrificed lamb, and then put on the sides and top of a door (which marked where Jesus bled on the cross). God would see the blood and pass over that household. Ex. 12:22

6.      The hyssop was associated with the cleansing rituals, the animal sacrifices and the sprinkling of the blood. Lev. 14:4, 6, 49, 51–51 Num. 19:6, 18 Heb. 9:19

7.      One of these cleansings which stands out is the cleansing of the leper in Lev. 14:1–6. Nothing could be more hopeless than the idea that a leper might be cleansed from his leprosy, but the Bible speaks of it. The picture, obviously, is of how gross we are to God, in all of our sins; and yet He cleanses us.

8.      Solomon knew a great deal of science, and could elaborate on trees and the hyssop which springs from the wall (I will admit, I am still thinking about that one). 1Kings 4:33

9.      Being aromatic, the idea is, these is a sweet savor to God. That is, God is satisfied and pleased with the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

10.    Hyssop is associated with Jesus Christ on the cross in John 19:29. Soldiers, hearing Jesus say, “I thirst” soaked a sponge in G.I. wine and brought it up to His mouth with some hyssop (I am not sure if a javelin was used to raise the sponge to our Lord’s mouth or if it was the stem of the hyssop). This is prophesied in Psalm 69:21, which passage does not mention the hyssop.

11.    Several aromatic plants and scents were used in association with the worship of Jehovah Elohim, which indicated that God received this sacrifices as a sweet savor, meaning that they were acceptable to Him.

12.    By using the symbol of hyssop, David saw himself as terribly sinful before God; he sees himself as a hopeless leper in need of healing.

Sources:

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; James Orr, Editor; ©1956 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Ⓟ by Hendrickson Publishers; from E-Sword; Topic:  hyssop.

Dr. William Smith, Smith’s Bible Dictionary; 1894; from e-Sword, topic: hyssop.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


You will bear my blame [or, take the consequences for my sin; make a sin offering for me] with hyssop and I will be cleansed;... An imperfect tense—both verbs are imperfect tenses—can refer to either continuous action or future action. Jesus Christ, in the future, would make a sin offering on behalf of David, and David will be cleansed because of that. He looked forward to being cleansed by Jesus Christ and we look backwards. As has been previously discussed in v. 2, Old Testament saints like David would have had a limited knowledge of Jesus Christ. Most believers looked forward to a time when there would be David’s Greater Son on David’s throne, but I don’t know that any Old Testament believer understood that this same One would die for our sins.


I spoke of the dual authorship of Scripture. God the Holy Spirit is communicating to us that God would make a sin offering on behalf of David and God would cleanse David because of the cross. David understood that God would purify David from sin (a process) and that David would thereby be cleansed—also a process. David was quite filthy at this point, and despite his great soul pain at what he had done, give him a few months to get past that and he would be chasing skirt again. David understood that God would cleanse him over time, which would be effectively keeping David from spending his time chasing skirt.


Psalm 51:7b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kâbaç (כָּבַס) [pronounced kaw-BAHÇ]

to wash [garments, a person]

2nd person masculine singular, Piel imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #3526 BDB #460

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

min (מִן) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

sheleg (שֶלֶג) [pronounced SHEH-leg]

snow

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #7950 BDB #1017

lâbab (לָבַן) [pronounced law-BAHN]

to make white; to become white; to show whiteness; to grow white; to purify

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong’s #3835 BDB #526


Translation: ...You will wash me and I will be made white more than snow. David says that the Lord would wash him, and he would become whiter than snow. The impact here is quite amazing. We have studied what David has done. We have looked at his degeneracy and how he simply took Bathsheba, possibly in rape, despite the fact that her husband was in the field fighting for Israel as one of David’s greatest soldiers. And then David has this honorable man killed. It is an amazing thing, bearing in mind that David here says, You will wash me and I will be made white more than snow. We find a parallel verse in Isa. 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD; “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” For those of us who have made great mistakes in our lives, this is quite encouraging.


Application: Quite obviously, if God is willing to forgive David such heinous sins, then we ought to forgive those around us who have sinned against us. When they name their sins to God, they are forgiven. Any unbeliever, no matter how degenerate, when he believes in Jesus Christ, he is washed and made whiter than snow.


David being made white as snow is a process. It does not happen all at once. Imperfect tense. That means both future and/or continuous action. If being made as white as snow here was only understood in the perfect tense (the accomplished act), then God would haul us into heaven 2 seconds after we are saved. That would be as far as we could take it. However, the is experiential cleansing as well as an ultimate cleansing at death, all which is taken into account with the imperfect tense. We know this as progressive and ultimate sanctification.