"As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him." - Psalm 18:30

Psalm 51:5

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5, NKJV)

Jewish Rabbis said that Psalm 51:5 represents David as being born in adultery (Aglen 161). How is it that David was born in adultery? While studying at the Memphis School of Preaching, this writer heard Curtis A. Cates explain Psalm 51:5 in a manner that harmonizes with the Rabbinical position on the passage. The Bible often uses the word “mother” or “father” when referring to an ancient member of one’s family lineage. For example, Nebuchadnezzar is called Belshazzar’s father (Dan.5:11) when Nabonidus was actually Belshazzar’s father and Nebuchadnezzar was his grandfather. David’s mother, Tamar, committed the sin in question when she committed adultery with Judah (Gen. 38). In sin Tamar conceived David. According to the Mosaic Law, an illegitimate son was not allowed to enter the congregation of the Lord until the 10th generation (Deut. 23:2). Ruth 4:18-22 indicates that David was the 10th generation from the adulterous relationship between Judah and Tamar. No wonder David said, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Brother Cates’ explanation of Psalm 51:5 fits the context of the passage without teaching error. In fact, is it not the case that David’s grief was compounded inasmuch as he repeated the sin of Judah and Tamar? And if his child had lived, he would not have been allowed to enter the House of the Lord!

Quoted from Darrell Broking’s lecture, “A PENITENT’S PLEA PSALM 51”, pp. 104-105, Studies in the Psalms, Annual Bristol Gospel Journal Lectures; Bristol, VA; May 18-21, 2003.

This certainly lays waste to the false teaching that this Scripture supports the idea of inherited sin. It also takes away the impression that David was speaking purely in hyperbole (exaggeration).  He is heavily burdened in his soul over the sins he committed against and with Bathsheba and against her faithful husband, Uriah; yet he recognizes his sin as being primarily against a holy God (Psalm 51:4).  While Jehovah indeed “put away” his sin and released him from the penalty of death (2 Sam. 11:13), David declares clearly in the rest of the psalm that he is the guilty party, not his mother. Even in verse five that we are considering, the wording does not place blame on her! He is taking the blame, as he well should have. The false doctrine of hereditary teaches that the guilt of Adam's sin is passed through our ancestors to us. Others may be guilty of evil influence or temptation toward their offspring (Cf. Matt. 18:5-6; I Cor. 15:33), which David implies about his mother to a degree, but we each are accountable for our own reactions to temptation (Cf. Ezekiel 18:20; James 1:12-16). Read Romans 5:12 carefully: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—" RL