March 8: “One Old Testament Verse You Should Never Pray or Sing”

10 Minute Read


Numbers 10:1–11:23
Mark 14:1-21
Psalm 51:1-19
Proverbs 10:31-32


Psalm 51:11 (CSB): “Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.”


While some Christians get bent out of shape over the types of music that get sung in church services, I kind of love them all. Sure, I have my favorites but if the song brags on Jesus or encourages me as I follow Jesus and if it is biblically accurate, then I’m all for it.

One of the genres of Christian music that was popular in the second half of the 20th century simply put Scripture to music. Those songs made memorizing God’s Word so much easier.

Here’s a video of “Create in Me a Clean Heart.” The words were taken directly from Psalm 51. I chose the following version, sung by the late Keith Green (1953-1982), because I have always respected his compassionate and yet heavy-hitting approach to following Jesus.

Beautiful song, isn’t it?

And yet, it is unbiblical.

“Wait a minute, Matt!” you may say. “It was taken straight from God’s Word! How can you say it is unbiblical?”

Simply by pointing to the words: “Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.”

Friend, those are Old Testament words and concepts. They are a prayer that was appropriate for Old Testament leaders.

But, they are NOT appropriate for New Testament saints.

Without making this post too lengthy, I would encourage you to investigate the Holy Spirit’s work in the Old Testament as opposed to the New Testament.

You will discover that the Old Testament tells us about the Holy Spirit filling only a very small group of people. They were those who had been placed into positions of leadership and authority by the Lord. It was God’s way of equipping those who led and spoke to His people. Those who were filled tended to be limited to kings and prophets.

Numbers 27:18 (CSB): “The LORD replied to Moses, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him.'”

Judges 3:9-10 (CSB): “The Israelites cried out to the LORD. So the LORD raised up Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s youngest brother, as a deliverer to save the Israelites. The Spirit of the LORD came on him, and he judged Israel…”

1 Samuel 16:13 (CSB): “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully on David from that day forward. Then Samuel set out and went to Ramah.”

On and on I could go with verses that demonstrate that the Holy Spirit came upon Israel’s leaders, not the masses. Why did the Spirit come upon the leaders? To empower them to do what God had ordained them to do.

But, then we realize that there was a negative example. We come to the first king of Israel, a man named Saul. First, notice that the Lord filled Saul with the Spirit so that he was enabled to lead the people of Israel.

1 Samuel 10:9-10 (CSB): “When Saul turned around to leave Samuel, God changed his heart, and all the signs came about that day. When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a group of prophets met him. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully on him, and he prophesied along with them.”

In the previous verses, we read of a man who was changed and empowered by God to be the first king of the nation of Israel.

But, then, Saul grieved God’s heart for the last time. He persistently did things that were unbecoming of a king of Israel. Finally, God had all He could take.

1 Samuel 15:26 (CSB): “Samuel replied to Saul, ‘I will not return with you. Because you rejected the word of the LORD, the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.‘”

1 Samuel 16:14 (CSB): “Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and an evil spirit sent from the LORD began to torment him,”

Because Saul had repeatedly disobeyed the Lord, the Lord finally took His Holy Spirit from King Saul. So, the result was that a King of Israel was then forced to lead in his own limited power. He no longer received divine help from God. In the absence of the Holy Spirit’s filling, Saul was reduced to a floundering king, incapable of leading God’s people rightly.

King David assumed the throne after Saul’s death. As King David had observed how his predecessor had been reduced to a pitiful excuse for a king when God’s Holy Spirit was taken from him, we realize that David had an ongoing fear that the same thing could happen to him. He was terrified that he could offend a Holy God and have God’s Spirit taken away, too.

The context of Psalm 51 is that David had been confronted with his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, his passive murder of her husband, and his ongoing attempts to conceal all of these grievous sins.

David was terrified. He could repent. But his sin was massive. Would God strip him of the Holy Spirit, like He did to King Saul, reducing him to a pitiful excuse for a king?

Psalm 51:11 (CSB): “Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.”

We understand why David uttered the words of Psalm 51:11.

But, my friend, those are Old Testament words. New Testament saints should never ever feel compelled to utter them … not even when they appear in 20th century choruses.

Friend, because Jesus died on the cross, and because you (I hope) have trusted in Him for eternal life, part of the package you received was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. All that means is that when you got saved, the Holy Spirit came into your heart, identifying you with Christ.

Romans 8:9 (CSB): “You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (CSB): “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.”

1 Corinthians 12:13-14 (CSB): “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and we were all given one Spirit to drink. Indeed, the body is not one part but many.”

Galatians 4:6 (CSB): “And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!'”

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit inhabits not just Christian leadership but every single believer! And, He never leaves once He takes up residence in our heart. We can certainly do things that keep Him from working powerfully in our life (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and there are things that we can do that free up the Holy Spirit to lead us and empower us (Ephesians 5:8).

But, we never, ever have to worry about the Holy Spirit leaving us.

We never, ever have to pray: “Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” Jesus took our punishment on the cross so that we are continually a recipient of God’s love and grace. He will never, ever take His Holy Spirit from us.

In fact, we have the guarantee that He will be faithful to us when we are not faithful to Him. He is God’s guarantee that we will one day reside in Heaven in God’s presence forever.

Ephesians 1:13-14 (CSB): “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.”

Friend, if you have the Holy Spirit in you, while you can “quench Him,” you can never, ever do anything that sends Him packing. He is the down payment on your inheritance. He is the guarantee that you, who God saved, will safely make it to your Heavenly home.

So, while there are powerful truths in Psalm 51, don’t sing or pray the words of verse 11. They are Old Testament theology and have no place under the New Covenant, the New Testament.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

12 thoughts on “March 8: “One Old Testament Verse You Should Never Pray or Sing”

  1. Your distinction between “old testament” and “new testament” was never known until Tertuillian made it up in the second century. The scriptures that the Bereans were so noble about–the Torah–which, by the way, they aren’t reported to find any discrepancy between the teachings of Paul and the Torah. The scriptures recommended to Timothy by Paul–the Torah. The scriptures that Peter recounted at Shavuot where the Holy Spirit immersed believers–the Torah. Hebrews 11 shows that the faith-filled back in the day were waiting for the same Messiah. The instructions given at Sinai were told by the Almighty to be for the persons there be they directly of Jacob’s line OR the mixed multitude that came out with them. The decision of Acts 15 where James advised that gentiles give up four abominations AND go visit the synagogue on Sabbath–why? To learn the Torah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jennacar. I always enjoy thoughtful feedback even if I might disagree with it.

      But, I want to make sure that I understand where you are coming from. Are you saying:

      * There should not be a distinction between the “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” It’s all one Book with no sub-categories.


      * We should follow the “Old Testament” and not the “New Testament.”


      1. What I’m saying is that there is no grace without the Torah as “sin” is transgression of the torah (1 John 3:4). There is nothing “different” between the two “testaments” (which distinction wasn’t made until Tertullian). The apostolic writings are simply the continuation of the grand narrative.
        I mean, I get why Christians say “the law was done away with.” I spent 2 and a half decades in the church, teaching that stuff, worship leader, the whole thing. Easter–doesn’t add up. NOBODY in the church history “celebrated” the resurrection (except as it had been celebrated as the day of first fruits)–either by “moving’ the Sabbath or by eliminating Passover for “Easter” until the 4th century and then with only around 300 of the 1800 existing assemblies buying in. The folks at NIcea, under the direction of Constantine–who cared not one wit about the church–threw Jews under the Roman bus and abdicated everything supposedly “Jewish” in a veiled attempt to curry Roman favor and get on Roman payrolls. Which brings me to a thought on your post: Christians have not have enough “fear” of the Almighty the way they just invent things. I have a post going up this Sabbath about that at Hope and Hesed. I invite you to have a look.


      2. While we disagree in regard to the value of the New Testament and how Christians now view the Old Testament, I appreciate your honesty and transparency.

        But, I am still confused as to where you are coming from. At the beginning of your comments, you say that “there is nothing ‘different’ between the two ‘testaments'” and that “the apostolic writings are simply the continuation of the grand narrative.” Yet, as I continued to read the rest of your comments, it seemed as if you have left Christianity and the New Testament behind.

        So, I’m still not sure how to respond. Do you agree that the New Testament is God’s authoritative Word, equal to the Old Testament? Or, do you believe that the New Testament is not God’s authoritative Word? (Or, is there possibly a third option?)

        Again, I appreciate your comments. I like that neither you nor I are combative. If you want to continue this conversation and will clarify your comments by simply answering the questions I presented above, I will look forward to continuing this dialogue.


      3. Okay, Matt. I’m in. Let’s push the brakes and take this a bit at a time. Are you okay with starting with the New Testament’s authority? I’m not disputing that at all, I do however refer to them as apostolic writings as there is a prohibition in the Scripture to add or take away anything. And I don’t think that’s the spirit of the gospel records or the letters or anything anyway. I’ll agree to refer to them as NT and OT for brevity.
        And to give you my context: Yes, I “left” Christianity as now practiced. After studying the early church and how things evolved and studying those “proof” texts, I’m not convinced that how the faith is outworked is coherent with the Scriptures. In essence, I have “left” the church to get closer to Yahshua.
        Specifically, I found that at the Council of Nicea to which only about 25 percent of the assemblies responded with a representative, certain things were changed–upon the promise of the church being officially recognized. The Emperor Constantine presided over the meetings that summer. There were a number of disputes to be settled, however, before the church could be blessed by the emperor as the “state church.” Did you know that they kept bickering until Constantine took it upon himself to decide between Athanasius and Arius regarding the origin of Yeshua? A sun-worshiping pagan decided that for them! That was one, the internal problems. The other problem was the task of distancing themselves from the Jews. To that end, they nixed the keeping of the Passover and instituted a holiday around the Roman holiday of Oestre called Easter. There is no support for that in the Scripture. Passover was to be remembered for ever. (Exodus 12:14). THAT was unauthorized.
        I’ll leave this at that. I look forward to this midrash. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Great comments!

        While I haven’t had much time to reflect on what you have written and how I would respond (I’ll do that tomorrow), my most immediate response would be to say that while church history is interesting, it’s not necessary. Your comments have adequately demonstrated that church history is filled with mistakes, and sometimes flat out error and heresy.

        That’s why we have to have our basis for truth found in something else – namely, the Bible. Which brings me full circle back to the questions that we are talking about.

        My day is not quite done yet so I will have to get back with you tomorrow.

        And thanks again so much for being willing to talk about this, and to speak on it in terms that are often foreign to online debate. It seems that far too many “conversations” that happen online make up in volume what they lack in substance. Your tone is refreshing.


      5. Jennacar, every time I think of how to respond, I feel like I need to write something much, much longer than you are willing to read. (I’m not sure that I would read something so long. HA)

        So, I am adding a link to a 20 minute video. In the following video, you will hear a wonderfully civil dialogue between a devout Jew (who only holds to the authority of the Old Testament) and a devout Christian pastor (who holds to the authority of both the Old and New Testaments). I think that John MacArthur does a wonderful job of explaining how the Old Testament leads up to, in fact demands to hear from the New Testament, as it explains and fulfills so much that was foretold in the Old Testament.

        If you are willing to watch the following video, I would be interested in your reflections.


      6. Hey, Matt–I actually caught Ben with John when it aired. But since Ben is not a Karaite Jew (that I know of) he’s not sola scriptura, so to speak. He comes from a position of Talmud and Mishnah inclusion, but also a Judaism that sees a Messiah who doesn’t keep Torah and that’s unacceptable to your devout Jews. That’s how they determine a “false prophet” (Deut 13).

        I’ll respond to the OT/NT point you made here. (And just to be clear: I’m an editor–you can’t write enough for me not to read it–LOL!! Now, if I have to red-line your punctuation, we’ll have to have words.)
        I’m not saying the NT is invalid by any means. I’m sure it was overseen from start to finish as it’s about 2/3rds from the OT. The way I think about it is actually “The old is the new concealed; the new is the old revealed.” Catchy, huh? Wish I had made that up.
        That being said, though, the “new” doesn’t in any way negate the old–which is the message of arbitrarily (meaning without authority) changing things like Sabbath and the moedim (feast days) and installing other things like Easter/Lent/Ash Wednesday by reverse engineering them. (You’ll probably know that that’s eisogesis.) If you’re not interested in long-winded-ness, please don’t visit my blog at Hope and Hesed. 🙂 Shabbat Shalom! –Jenna

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Communicating via “back-and-forth” like this is proving to be a little tricky. But, thank you for being gracious in communicating about this topic.

        Not only does it help me to understand your view a bit more, it also helps me to think through my own views, making sure that they are rooted in Scripture.

        As far as the Ben Shapiro / John MacArthur video, I appreciate the fact that you are knowledgeable of Shapiro’s theological orientation.

        However, that was not my point for presenting it. My point was MacArthur’s response – his understanding of how Christian’s value the divine authority of the Old Testament but believe that it was essentially fulfilled in Jesus. For all who trust in Jesus, His righteous life (according to the OT Law), and his substitutionary death (according to Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, etc.) are forgiven and declared righteous.

        I think we may not be as far apart in our views as was initially thought. But, I feel compelled to get right to the point, as I see it: “What do you think of Jesus?”


      8. I hope you’ll forgive my “Yahshua” instead of “Jesus.” “Jesus” has only been around for about 400 years; previously it was Ieousus–reflecting the struggles of the Greek to transliterate Hebrew. The letter “J” was introduced when a secular humanist noted the leading “swash” on the handcopied letter and proposed it for a “j” sound, which more modern Europe had, but which neither Greek nor Hebrew did–but it quickly “swashed” over to a word that had previously been spelled with an “I”.
        “Yahshua” actually says “Yah’s salvation” in the Hebrew. As someone who regularly gets her name mangled into Gina or Jennifer, I can appreciate using a correct given name. but it’s also so much more meaningful than a collection of letters in English.
        No, we’re not so far apart. However I don’t see “fulfillment” in the same way, especially on things that a) are said to be forever in their original context, such as the memorial of Passover as one, and b) are designed to show us the Kingdom order, and c) now, in the absence, say, of feast days, precipitate the installation of events that are clearly and undeniably pagan in origin as well as not in the bible at all.
        Most people look at me and see a blood-letting heretic who ignores completely the payment of my debt on the cross, the repairing of the breach of a blood covenant that I could never pay–when nothing, absolutely nothing could be further from the truth. I simply also see that my gratitude extends to doing bible things in bible ways, is all. Not to earn anything, but as my minimum behavior avoiding where the church distanced itself from anything Jewish to curry Roman favor–but also because participating in these has indeed brought me countless blessings. I appreciate that you haven’t dropped back to the usual venom I receive when folks can’t clearly express why they believe what they believe.
        I think also there is a dearth of understanding of the Torah among Christians. They might know of ‘613’ laws–how horrible!–but they don’t know that there are duplicates in that accounting, for one, but for another there are things that only apply to men, only to women, farmers, kings, priests, Levites, to the temple or tabernacle (which we don’t have), to criminals (which we are currently bound under a different penal code), to the sick.
        Akk! This has gotten long. Not wishing to wear you thin. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I have realized how limited our discussion can be as we communicate via the printed word. With both of us writing so much at a time (sometimes bringing up tangential points), it is hard to know how to reply.

        But, as I have read your most recent comments, I believe that you are a sister-in-Christ. You speak of your reliance upon Jesus (the one pictured by the Old Testament, Joshua), and His finished work on the cross for your sin debt.

        It simply seems that your biggest hang-up is the imperfection of the church and the distorted view that some Christians have that essentially abandons the notion that the Old Testament remains useful and authoritative as God’s Word. (I hope that I have expressed your sentiments correctly.) If I have adequately reflected your sentiments, then I can agree wholeheartedly with you.

        But, I am concerned that the church, which is Jesus’ bride (Ephesians 5:22-33; 2 Corinthians 11:2), is getting thrown out with the proverbial bathwater if we do not value what Jesus died for and will one day marry. As a Pastor, I don’t see the imperfections in the church as something that keeps me away from it; instead, I see the imperfections as work to be done.

        Since I feel as if I understand a bit more your frame of reference, and since I believe we are both believers, we don’t have to continue this back-and-forth unless you choose. However, I will check out your blog very soon.

        Thanks again for demonstrating how online conversations are supposed to happen.


      10. Thanks Matt. I’ll say so long for now, but I’ll first point out: It’s not imperfections that I’m concerned about. I doubt Nadab and Abihu would now (if they could) characterize what they did when they decided what YHWH would like instead of sticking to what He said he would like as “imperfections.” It’s rather kind of like saying to your spouse, “Hey, honey. I’m so excited for our anniversary. I’m going to go out with my ex to celebrate. I hope you enjoy it. I love you.”
        But thanks for playing along. Shalom aleichem (Peace unto you, friend.)


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