Here at AGW, we’ve been studying Psalm 51:1-19 specifically under the context of “How to overcome sexual temptation.” David wrote Psalm 51 as his prayer of repentance once he was convicted over his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. Within Psalm 51, God uses David to lay out a road map on how to escape the snares of sin. As we come to Psalm 51:13-15, we’re taught that God’s grace is so powerful, not only will it set us free but it will cause us to help others be set free from sexual sin too.
Redeemed Transgressors Make the Best Teachers
Psalm 51:13-19 is an expression of audacious faith. This is confidence in the power of God. David is guilty of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, and yet here is, saying that if God truly changes him, not only will he be free, but he will also be able to teach others on how to be free.
The message of Psalm 51:13 would be extremely disturbing if it was found in Psalms 51:1. If David started his prayer of repentance by promising God he would teach other sinners, God would have looked at David with a seriously raised eyebrow. That’s far from what David did.
Psalm 51:13 starts with the word “Then.” Remember in Psalm 51:10-12 David has asked God to transform his heart and grant him a willing spirit. “Then” David proclaims how God can use him to teach transgressors and help other sinners like him.
In Psalm 51, David did not start with the future fruit he hopes to produce. He didn’t start with his works and actions. He never tried to strike a deal with God based on his deeds. He started by first dealing with his own heart. But he knows that if God transforms and sanctifies his inner being, then his outer life will change as well. Jamming fruit into roots will not make the tree healthy. When the roots are healthy, the tree’s fruit will be healthy too (Matthew 7:17).
After David Mourns and Repents Over His Sin, He Moves On
Psalm 51:13 says a lot about David’s willingness to accept God’s gift of redemption. Once he receives God’s grace, he does not mourn forever over his past mistakes. After an appropriate time of mourning, he then moves on.
To be able to help others with their sexual sins, you have to deal with the shame you feel for your own past. One of the indicators of truly moving on and having faith in God’s grace is when you have a desire to help others without feeling like a hypocrite. Your failures do not disqualify you from helping others, only your unforgiven failures do. When you have the faith to believe that God’s mercy is more than enough for your past, only then will you feel confident that you are fit to help others where you yourself have struggled.
You don’t need a perfect past to help others. God often produces his greatest witnesses by allowing them to personally witness his astounding, lavish grace in their own sinful lives. People who know they were great sinners before they came to Christ are always the ones with the most passion for him (Luke 7:47). And those who have experience God’s mercy the most are always the best at leading others to do the same.
Love God and People By Proclaiming What God Has Done For You
One of the greatest ways to love God and other people is to declare what God has done for you. Psalm 40 is strikingly similar to Psalm 51. In Psalm 40, David proclaims to the Lord:
In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. . . . I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. (Psalm 40:6-10)
Once God sets your free, he expects you to tell other people. God saves us because he loves us, but he also saves and sanctifies us for his glory. God wants everyone to worship him. Perhaps if you told others how God has set you free from sexual addiction and temptation, they may seek God’s grace as well.
Regardless of the results it may have on other people, when God delivers us, we must “sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:14-15).