Psalm 51:5 — Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Everyone loves to see and hold a newborn. We say things like “they are so cute” or “how precious.” Little babies look so sweet and innocent. They are helpless, fragile little creatures. We love to ooh and aah when seeing or holding them, often changing our voices into silly versions of ourselves.
But are babies sweet and innocent? Well, in the sense of having not sinned or actively rebelled against God or anyone else, “yes.” However, in the sense of inheriting a sin nature and guilt from Adam, “no.” No, even their practical innocence is short-lived. Babies quickly become toddlers who throw tantrums, bite playmates, and refuse to share.
Our passage today reminds us of why this happens. David is writing this psalm as a lament and prayer of repentance. He sinned against God and Uriah by sleeping with a woman who was not his wife, and then having her husband killed. The prophet Nathan confronted David, and this psalm is a recording of his prayer to God for forgiveness. It is insightful because we see David’s theology come out, a theology we should understand as well.
David declares that he was brought forth in iniquity. In sin did his mother conceive him. What is he talking about? He is not saying that his mother committed a sin by having him. Neither is he saying that his mother engaged in sin with his conception. No, David’s remark is about the condition and nature he was born into. He was born into sin. His sin nature is as much inherent in his birth as a head, two arms, and two legs are. This is why we all sin at some point. We are not born innocent. We are born with a fallen nature that needs redemption.
This is where the gospel becomes incredible news for us. Sinners with fallen natures can be saved and transformed. Through the hearing of the gospel, God transforms these dead hearts and produces in us a clean heart that can receive God’s word. With this clean heart, we cry out for His forgiveness and grace, and He gives it. We are not born good. We need to be saved.
Reflection & Journal:
- How does our sin nature corrupt our lives and the things we do?
- Why is the gospel able to transform us? What happens when the Spirit changes our hearts?
- Why is it important that we have a foundational understanding of man’s fallen nature?