Category Archives: Psalms

Psalm 51:5 Does God Create “In Utero Sinners”?

“Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.” – NRSV

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

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” – NASB, ESV, RSV

What is going on here? The first sounds like Calvinism and the second sounds like it was sexual intercourse that was considered impure.

First, the context. The heading of the psalm tells us this is what David wrote after Nathan rebuked him for his sin with Bathsheba.

Second, the genre – This is poetry and poetry does not always speak literally.

Third, the tone – this is penance rather than doctrine…an expression of an inner turmoil and frustration rather than anthropology (teaching us something about what it means to be human) and ontology (teaching us something about the nature of our existence).

Fourth, context – verse 6 tells us that God is desiring something of us that is incompatible with a literal interpretation of verse 5, while also reminding us that this is both poetic and hyperbolic, “Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in the secret place.” God does not create “In Utero sinners”

So David has been shamed. His sin has been exposed. He has had to come to grips with the seriousness of his transgression and the repercussions  that will follow (including the death of the child Bathsheba is pregnant with). David poetically pours out his heart. In his “dark night of the soul” experience he bemoans the depth and pervasiveness of the sin in his life. Jack Lewis gives a good example of a parallel statement of hyperbole in explaining this verse, “I have never been any good!” (Exegesis of difficult Bible Passages, 41). That is a perfectly understandable statement. That isn’t doctrine. It isn’t intended to be doctrine or theological anthropology. It is a statement of feeling about one’s self that is overwhelming, so overwhelming that the most accurate way to describe the feeling is hyperbole (exaggeration).

This is not a passage that promotes original sin. It is not a passage that teaches us that sex and conception are sinful. Both of those fail to take into account the three pieces of the puzzle that snap together to give us a clear picture of what is being communicated in this verse.

Praying Scripture

I just posted something that will be of interest to some of you on praying scripture over at Wineskins — “Bono Gives us a Lesson on Praying the Psalms” Try out the exercise at the end of the post and see how it works for you.

In the Bible Courage is Almost Always Based on Two Things

As I was working through where the word courage is mentioned in both Testaments, something really jumped out. There were two things that came up over and over again as the reason for the courage we are to have. Here are some verses to consider in both Testaments to give you an idea of whatContinue Reading

4 Words that Connect Deuteronomy 6, Psalm 1 and Ephesians

Dueteronomy 6:4-9 is one of the most popular passages in the entire Old Testament. Those verses serve as instruction about intentionally passing on faith to the next generation before the Hebrews enter the promised land. There are four words in Deuteronomy 6 that are later echoed in Psalm 1 and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians…IContinue Reading

The Prayers of Hallelujah, Hurts and Hates

I have been reading a lot on prayer lately and ran across this point from Eugene Peterson in his terrific little book on prayer, “Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer,” It is easy to be honest before God with our hallelujah’s; it is somewhat more difficult to be honest in our hurts; itContinue Reading

Hallelujah in the Psalms

In Hebrew the word hallelujah (“praise the Lord”) is actually two words, not one – hallelu is an imperative form of the verb hallel, which means “to praise” + one of the words for God in the Old Testament, “Yah”. Hallelujah is more than an expression of praise, as it is often used today…it isContinue Reading

Psalm 146 – A God We Can Trust

Psalm 146 1 Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. 2 I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that veryContinue Reading

Psalm 139 – Intimacy With God

When I read Psalm 139 the word that comes to my mind most often is the word “intimacy”. This psalms highlights the knowledge God has of our lives starting in verse 1 and going through verse 6 and then picking up again from 13-18. But intimacy is more than knowledge… Sandwhiched between all the languageContinue Reading

Psalm 1 – Why Does It Get to Go First?

How do you start a book like Psalms? Do you start it with praise or prayer? Do you shout it or whisper? Or maybe you just start it with silence. Psalm 1 A Psalm of silence 1 [be silent] Psalm 1 would go down as the shortest and easiest chapter in the Bible to memorize.Continue Reading

Why Does Psalm 139 All of a Sudden Shift From a Sweet, Best of all Time Psalms to a Vicious Tirade About Enemies?

Psalm 139 1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 YouContinue Reading

Follow

Follow this blog

Email address