Create In Me A Clean Heart
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
This psalm is one of the most misunderstood and misused passages of
scripture. Some have subverted the language of the text to teach the false doctrine of
“original sin.” They teach that babies inherit the sin of their parents, that they are born sinful,
and that they have a sinful nature, all of which are not true.
King David likely wrote this psalm after his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the
murder of her husband, Uriah. Nathan, the prophet, confronted the king with his sin. The
response of the king was full-blown repentance. The psalm uses extreme and descriptive
language to describe his broken heart and his desire to be made right with God.
The verse that is often misused is verse 5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in
sin my mother conceived me.” Some have used this to teach that David was born a sinful
person, that he had been a sinner since his conception. Such teachings have led to such
practices as infant baptism, confirmation, and rejection of the free will of each person.
Babies are not born in sin. They are innocent of sin. They have no need of salvation
because their souls are in a “safe” condition. They have no sin until they reach the time
when they are capable of understanding good and evil, and make the individual choice to
sin. Then, and only then, do they reach the need of salvation from sin.
David was expressing that he was born into a sin-filled world and that he had
succumbed to lust, adultery, subversion, deceit, and murder. We can see other exaggerated
(for emphasis) statements, such as in verse 4: “Against You, You only, have I sinned...” Of
course, David had sinned against Uriah, Bathsheba, himself, and the whole nation of Israel.
His statement is made to emphasize that he had not only sinned against those around him,
but his greater sin was that he had violated the will of his God.
The richness of this psalm is in the way he pours out his deepest emotions in pleas to
God for forgiveness. Perhaps we are a little too flippant at times when we pray to God to
forgive us of our sins. A little more time in contemplation and serious penitence should be
given. God takes our sin seriously and so should we.
The blessing is that God wants to forgive. He is compassionate and ready to heal the
broken-hearted. He is eager to renew and reconcile. He does not want us to be separated
from Him by our sin. That’s why He sent Jesus, our Savior, to bring us back. There is
forgiveness for those of us who truly repent and come to Him with hearts that are ready to be
changed and restored to His presence again.