Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

Psalm 51 is a Psalm of repentance from David after his adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of Uriah. The adultery is not mentioned in the Psalm at all. So why not? What follows is a clip from John Piper’s sermon “A Broken and Contrite Heart God Will Not Despise” from June 8, 2008.

There is not a word about sex in this psalm, nor is there a word about murder, nor is there a word about lying. And it all started with sex. Or did it? No. Freud may think everything started with sex — all my problems are sex. The Bible doesn’t see it that way.

The misuses of the beautiful gift of sex is a symptom of a disease, not the disease. That is why this psalm doesn’t mention it and it is the main issue, or we thought it was the main issue. It is not the main issue. This is the main issue: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, because when that joy fades, I click on pornography. When that joy fades I start cruising the neighborhood. When that joy fades I get an itch for another woman. When that joy fades, on and on and on.

Symptoms of Sin

Every sin on the outside is symptomatic of the absence of this joy. This psalmist knows how to fight. I don’t have any problem doing all kinds of things to surround men and women with protections against sexual sin. In fact, I think that is a very good idea. It is just not the main point. If that is where you fight the battle continually, you will never get to the root of the issue. The root of the issue here is this renewed heart — this joy and gladness that the bones that God has broken, healed with the joy of our salvation.

“The misuses of the beautiful gift of sex is a symptom of a disease, not the disease.”

He asked God to bring his joy to the overflow of praise, Psalm 51:15: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” Praise is what joy in God does unless there is an obstacle that needs to be removed. And all of you have obstacles — me too — and what he is praying is that they be removed. “Open my lips. Come on, mouth, get with the soul.” Why do I know him? Why do I love him, and I can’t say it to my wife? I can’t say it to my kids. I can sing in a congregation, but I can’t praise him. Why? What is wrong with us? [We have] all kinds of obstacles.

The Broken Can Heal

So join him, just join him in praying: “Open my lips that I may praise you.” He asks that the upshot of all this will be effective evangelism. Psalm 51:13: “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” David is not content to be forgiven. He is not content to be clean. He is not content to be elect. He is not content to have a right spirit. He is not content to be happy by himself. He will not be content until his brokenness heals others.

So many of us think: “I have got to be totally triumphant to have a witness.” This makes no sense if that is true. He has passed through incredible darkness and horrors morally in his life, and now he is saying: If you could just give me a taste, again, of some of the joy that I once knew, all of this would result in conversions — and it will.

“David will not be content until his brokenness heals others.”

You think you have so blown it in your life you cannot be used. That is what many of you think in this room. You have so blown it that you cannot be used to make a difference for Jesus in the world. That is the devil talking. He doesn’t want you to make a difference — that is for sure. And one of the reasons he helped drag you down was so that you would think that way. And one of the reasons this is in the Bible is to nullify that lie. So just join David in pleading: “God, I know I have messed up. Oh, have I messed up. I killed, and I raped, and my baby is dead. Would you cause people to come to Christ through my life?” Maybe that will be the way the Lord would make evangelism happen at Bethlehem.


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