“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” ~ Psalm 51:12
Psalm 51 was written after David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11). The eventual consequences of David’s sin (the death of his favourite son, Absalom, the stillbirth of his child by Bathsheba, the murder of another son Amnon, the suicide of a daughter, Tamar, the temporary loss of his throne, etc.) were great. But Psalm 51 indicates that the most painful loss was his intimacy with God and with it the joy of God’s salvation.
We note here that David never lamented about losing salvation, because sin doesn’t take away our salvation, otherwise we would ALL be lost.
However, sin does steal from us the ‘joy of salvation’. And this has always been so. When Adam and Eve sinned, their first reaction was to cover themselves from each other and hide from God (Genesis 3:7-8).
Specifically, for believers–who all have consciences that are sensitized to sin by the Holy Spirit (John 15:26-27; 16:5-15)–sin leaves us feeling exposed and vulnerable. That’s why we try to keep our sins secret from others and that is why we find it hard to talk to God when we are conscious of sin in our lives; we can’t enjoy God’s Word, we can’t enjoy fellowship with Him and we sometimes even find it difficult to truly fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters… “what if they found out??” “what if they knew who i really am?” “what if they knew my weaknesses, my habits, my thoughts, my true beliefs?”
Psalm 51 outlines for us a solution to the “sin problem”. In earlier verses, David confessed his sins to God unreservedly, without excuse, and sought forgiveness. But, in verse 12, David didn’t stop there. For him, forgiveness was not “enough”. He didn’t just want ‘fire insurance’, he wanted to regain the intimacy he once had while walking daily with God.
The challenge for us is this: “Are we (believers) simply satisfied with forgiveness for sin?” “Is ‘forgiveness’ enough?” “Do you/I/we desire that close fellowship with God that produces “joy unspeakable” and is “full of Glory”?”
Finally, in our text, David acknowledged that it is God that will both “restore” and “uphold” us. Despite our best efforts we cannot restore intimacy with God, only He can. Joy is produced by The Holy Spirit working in us (Galatians 5:22-23). And we have no power of our own to stop ourselves from falling into sin again, it is God who must sustain us (Jude 1:24). We overcome sin as God supplies us with the strength and we yield our wills to Him.
Let us, like David, seek not only God’s forgiveness, but let us desire to be close with God. Let us pray for that intimate relationship with God that will give us true joy and keep us away from sin.