Behold, you desire truth in the innermost being; and in the hidden part you will make me know wisdom. (Psalm 51:6 NASB)
As a writer, I am a bit jealous of those who communicated in ancient Hebrew, a rich imagery buffet of words and concepts that yielded choice meals of truth. And often served in a special presentation, such as rhyme or repetition.
Psalm 51:6 is a perfect example, because David employed LOTS of repetition here, repetition which we miss in our English translations.
The phrase “innermost being” is actually the same word repeated twice, which in English means “innermost.”
The later phrase, “hidden part,” is a synonym that means concealed or hidden, and it is ALSO repeated twice! So a literal reading of this would be,
Behold, you desire truth in the innermost innermost;
and in the hidden hidden you will make me know wisdom.
Where David was when he penned these words
David penned Psalm 51 after Nathan confronted him over committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband murdered. In spite of David’s insistence, Bathsheba’s husband refused to go home to sleep with his wife while his own soldiers slept in the fields. This display of honor and integrity seriously interfered with David’s ploy to cover the fact that Bathsheba had conceived a child with David while her husband was on the field of duty. Without a doubt the worst moment of David’s life.
David realized and accepted the truth about his terrible acts: he had not just sinned against Bathsheba and her honorable husband, he had sinned against God Himself. Today, Psalm 51 stands out as THE place to turn when one sins really big against God, and needs to find his way back from what feels like the unforgivable thing. It provides all the vocabulary one needs to talk to God in such an awful moment.
Where sin begins
While David’s evil acts seem totally out of character with his reputation and public personna as the God-loving warrior king of Israel, David has seen that his sin was first conceived from a place deep within his soul and spirit where the real truth of his character lives – his innermost innermost.
Scripture assures us that sin always begins from a place within us that desires something:
… but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full- grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14-15 NIV)
Possessing “truth in the innermost innermost” means that what is down at the core of one’s being actually lines up with how one behaves and what he claims to value. In other words, God is looking for the one who truly desires righteousness at the very core of his being.
David’s actions clearly revealed this was not the case. Horrified at what he has done, he acknowledges that it isn’t enough to say, “I’m sorry, God, help me not to do that awful thing again. He understands that he needs to be cleansed of wrong desires and have them replaced with God’s values in that place where every choice is birthed — in the “hidden, hidden.”
Hidden from man, and often even from ourselves, but never from God.
It is popular to encourage an athlete to score in his sport by saying, “Take it to the house!” The innermost innermost hidden hidden is the house I share with the Lord. If one doesn’t score there, it doesn’t count for much.
Like David, I’ve had to face times when my actions revealed that my core values didn’t match what I believed and proclaimed publicly. Realizing I needed help to change, I have followed David’s example, crying out to God to instill his wisdom in my innermost innermost and replace those wrong desires. I’ve learned that the shortcut to real change isn’t wrestling myself into it, but surrendering to God’s Spirit, who dwells in my innermost innermost hidden hidden.
Refuse to get stuck in guilt and hopelessness
What I love about verse 6 is that David takes us past the “terrible-me-I’m-no-good-how-could-God-ever-forgive-me” moment — which can become hopeless permission to stay as you are — and brings you face-to-face with the Lord who can truly make you better. It begins with honesty, and leads to real change — change you can’t do by yourself.
The idea that a really big sin requires you to feel horrible about yourself for a very long time as a means of doing penance is the devil’s idea, not God’s. Long-term guilt may or may not bring about some change, but you can be sure that shame does not draw us closer to God. Our God prefers to follow your sincere repentance with His swift redemption, because He loves to share unfettered fellowship with you. He knows, as all fathers do, that keeping you close to his heart is a much better motivator to become better, than nagging guilt and shame.
Hopefully most of us will never be guilty of adultery and murder (much less both!), but the fact is there are no big sins and little sins. We should feel just as grieved over lying to someone as we would over marital unfaithfulness, when we look into the eyes of Christ, who alone knows us in the hidden hidden innermost innermost.
Our innermost innermost hidden hidden is where we share life with God. It should be a place of truth between us, a place from which we really live and express the life of Christ to the world around us. We are the temple of the Living God, and we need to keep it real real and righteous righteous in there where no one is looking but Christ. (Can’t let the ancient writers have all the word fun.)