Does Ps. 51:5 Teach Original Sin?
Was David Born A Sinner Or Was His Mother Sinning When She Got Pregnant?
By Jesse Morrell
[An excerpt from the book “Does Man Inherit A Sinful Nature? By Jesse Morrell“]
IV. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Ps. 51:5
1. This Scripture is talking about David and his mother. It is not referencing all of humanity and it says nothing about Adam or Adam’s original sin. It says nothing about human nature, let alone a sinful nature.
2. The sin mentioned is not the sin of Adam, but the sin of David’s mother.
3. The structure of the sentence itself shows that the sin belonged to the mother, not to David. “In sin [verb] did my mother [subject] conceive me [object].” David’s mother is the subject of the sentence so the sinning belonged to her.
a. Winkie Pratney said, “Now all David is saying in this, and you can look it up in Hebrew if you want to, is that my mother was a sinner during the time of my gestation and conception. That’s all.”257
b. Charles Finney said, “The Psalmist intended to affirm the sinful state of his mother, at the time of his conception, and during gestation.”258
4. There is a world of difference between being born in sin and having sin born in you, just as there is a world of difference between being born in America and having America born in you. David was formed in sin, but sin was not formed in him.
5. The event spoken of is the conception of David, not the birth of David. He is not saying that he was born a sinner. David is saying that his mother was in sin when she got pregnant. She was sinning when she conceived him. The conception is the beginning of the pregnancy. The birth is the end of the pregnancy. This passage is talking about the beginning of the pregnancy or the conception.
6. A strong case can be made that this is talking about the defilement of David’s mother because she was previously the wife of, or the concubine of, a heathen king.
a. David had two half-sisters named Zeruiah and Abigail (1 Chron. 2:13-16).
b. The father of David’s half sisters was not Jesse but Nahash (2 Sam. 17:25).
c. Nahash was an Ammonite king (1 Sam. 11:1; 1 Sam. 12:12).
d. David’s father was Jesse, not Nahash, but David’s half sisters were daughters of Nahash. This could explain why Nahash showed kindness toward David (2 Sam. 10:2).
e. David’s mother was most likely the second wife of Jesse. The first wife of Jesse would have been considered superior to his second wife, as his second wife had been either the concubine or wife of a heathen king.
f. This would explain why David’s half brothers viewed themselves as superior to David, and why David was considered prideful for thinking he was as good as them (1 Sam. 17:28-30).
g. This may explain why David was not called before Samuel the prophet amongst the other sons, as he was viewed as the embarrassment of the family and possibly was an illegitimate child (1 Sam. 16:11).
h. David’s mother apparently had a good relationship with the Lord (Ps. 86:16; 116:16). But she would have been, in the eyes of Jewish law, considered defiled by her previous relationship with an Ammonite (Num. 25:1,2; Deut. 7:3,4; 1 Kings 11:2-4, Ezra 9:2; Neh. 13:23,25; 2 Cor. 6:14-17).
7. It may simply be that David’s mother was not married to Jesse when she became pregnant, or that she was still the concubine of, or married to, Nahash the heathen king when she conceived.
8. The context of David’s prayer of repentance in Psalms 51 is not consistent with David making an excuse for his adultery by saying, “I was born a sinner. It’s not my fault. I was born this way.” In true repentance, an individual takes full responsible for their sin and offers no excuses for justification. David was not blaming his sin on his birth. David was simply stating that even the circumstances of his birth were surrounded by sexual sin.
9. When a sinner repents of his sins, it is not uncommon for them to reflect upon the stronghold that those sins have had throughout their family. A drunkard might reflect upon the drunkenness of his father when he repents of his own drunkenness. They might think to themselves, “I am a drunkard. My father was a drunkard. I come from a whole family of drunkards. Drunkenness has greatly affected my family.” In this case, it appears that David reflects upon the sexual immorality of his mother while he is repenting of his own sexual immorality.
10. David said that it was the Lord who personally made him (Ps. 100:3; 119:73). And that he was “wonderfully” and “marvelously” made by God in the womb (Ps. 139:13-14). Therefore, he could not have been sinfully made by his mother in the womb. It is not wonderful to be born sinful or marvelous to be created evil. Lest we view David as contradicting himself, or charge the Bible with inconsistency, we cannot interpret Ps. 51:5 to say that David was formed with a sinful nature in the womb or that he was born a sinner. David did not contradict himself in the Psalms. David said that his mother conceived him through sin, but God created him wonderfully and marvelously. There is no inconsistency or contradiction in that.
257 1971 Hilo School of Evangelism, Lecture on Original Sin
258 Lectures on Systematic Theology, 1851 Edition, published by Biblical Truth Resources, p. 281
GREAT BOOKS DEALING WITH FREE WILL & ORIGINAL SIN
The Natural Ability of Man: A Study On Free Will & Human Nature by Jesse Morrell is an exhaustive theological volume that defends the Christian doctrine of man’s free will against the false Gnostic/Calvinist doctrine of man’s natural inability.
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OTHER ARTICLES DEALING WITH ORIGINAL SIN / SINFUL NATURE
Is Our Flesh Sinful? Is the Human Body A Sin? The Heresy of Gnosticism & Manicheanism Refuted by Jesse Morrell
Can Eternal Life Be Lost? Is Righteousness by Works or Faith? Does Man Inherit A Sinful Nature? Is Our Body or Flesh A Sin? Is Perfection Attainable in this Life?
Moral Government Theology on Free Will, Sin Nature, Original Sin, Total Depravity, Omniscience, etc… – Jesse Morrell
Explaining 1 Kings 8:46 Against Those Who Use It to Deny Christian Perfection or the Avoidability of Sin – “If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,)”