[Yet you desired faithfulness [truth] even in the womb (inward parts, i.e. the heart and mind); you taught me wisdom in that secret place (my thoughts). Psalm 51:6]
You Desired Faithfulness [Truthfulness]
This one verse should have been expanded—if not already—into countless sermons on salvation as well as texts on counseling. David arrives here after a winding journey through self-justification to self-condemnation to blaming his mother for giving him birth. Off the record, I little doubt, he could have rationalized a way of blaming even Uriah; for, had he not neglected his wife that fateful night, David wouldn’t be in this state of mind now. Perhaps, some time elapsed while he tried in his own way to assuage the pain, to sleep through the nightmare. To be factual: the Ammonites killed Uriah.
This is an all to familiar dialog between counselor and counselee. Blaming everyone else first seems to be a recognizable mile marker on the road to recovery for us in finding our way back to the right path.
God is not listening yet, when we are not honest within ourselves. Maybe we do not really know ourselves well enough, we don’t know why we did what we did. Maybe we are unprepared to give an account of our behavior. Nonetheless, without truthfulness, there is nothing here of any therapeutic value. There is no opportunity for God to restore David’s joy or heal his conscience because he has not yet decided to be truthful in prayer. David murdered an innocent man in order to be legally free to covet his wife, just because she was too beautiful to resist. Self-deception has a name and it is “David.”
David’s humanity cannot absorb murder and keep its identity. So David needs God desperately to touch his life and get him back to a time before this indefensible act of a numbed conscience. He would not be the young David again, whose innocence sought the Lord’s prayerful presence, until he confessed. Confession meant—and always means—admitting truthfully the sin that separated him from God.
Here is the preacher’s sermon on salvation or repentance or revival or whatever topic he wishes. Here is the message of the Cross. You shall confess the truth and it will set you free!1
You Taught Me Wisdom…In … Secret
“The Lord taught Me Wisdom,” David testified, “in secret.” The secret place he spoke of, the heart physically hidden from literal sight, was an analogy of the soul or the seat of deep feelings and thoughts where what we do and say originates. These feelings and thoughts might be deeply buried under the debris of years of fun and amusement designed to cover over painful experiences. We may have been living a lie, an intentional neglect of what discipline once tried to drum into us, and now whatever we once heard or knew as wisdom is not wisdom anymore to us.
David was tortured by the memory of his crime against God in committing murder and adultery. God had to send Nathan, though, to entrap him and push him forward into reconsidering what he had done. How much time had gone by might be estimated by how long the joy of his salvation was not part of his experience. Kings go to war each Spring and David was in the habit of getting God’s counsel.2 It might have been a while since this was true.3 His Psalms are a diary of his prayer life which must have been on pause.
Yet, David’s heart was still a heart after God’s own heart. This had not changed, but his sin contradicted this truth and disrupted the relationship. Here is where David discovered something kind about the God he served: “In my guiltiness, You taught me, Lord, to be truthful to myself. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts [heart], And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.4
C. H. Spurgeon interprets, “God is teaching him truth concerning his nature, which he had not before perceived.”5
If I may: God reads the heart,6 not the outward perception of things. Truthfulness pleases Him; so, an honest prayer of repentance, a prayer for God’s mercy, waits on the breakthrough when all self-justification ceases. While we fault others on our knees, expect God to use the time—as Spurgeon correctly interpreted this verse—to “teach … [us] truth concerning …[our true] nature, which …[we] had not before perceived.”5 Blaming a spouse or a friend or a congregation or the world has no therapeutic value if we ultimately want God to restore our joy.
Faithfulness, Lord, you desire in the heart7 … In the closed chamber of the heart.”8
Who would have guessed that one benefit of true confession before God is a lesson in Truth!?
2 1 Samuel 23:2, 4; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1 David enquired of the LORD
3 Psalm 51:8-12 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
4 verse 6 הֵן־֭אֱמֶת חָפַ֣צְתָּ בַטֻּחֹ֑ות וּ֝בְסָתֻ֗ם חָכְמָ֥ה תֹודִיעֵֽנִי׃
cp. Job 38:36 מִי־֭שָׁת בַּטֻּחֹ֣ות חָכְמָ֑ה אֹ֤ו מִֽי־נָתַ֖ן לַשֶּׂ֣כְוִי בִינָֽה
NKJV Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?
LXX τίς δὲ ἔδωκεν γυναιξὶν ὑφάσματος σοφίαν ἢ ποικιλτικὴν ἐπιστήμην. Who has given to women skill in weaving or knowledge of embroidery?
Vulgate: quis posuit in visceribus hominis sapientiam vel quis dedit gallo intellegentiam. Who hath put wisdom in the heart of man? or who gave the rooster understanding?
5 C. H. Spurgeon. p. 936
6 Hebrews 4:12 discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.; 1 Samuel 16:7 The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
7 cp BDB p. 377
8 BDB. p. 711 cp Psalm 25:5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.