The eleventh and twelfth chapters of 2 Samuel represent the spectacular fall of a great leader, David. In this great moral breakdown, David orchestrated both adultery with Bathsheba and the death of Uriah to cover up the affair. Eventually the child from the affair would die, but not before Nathan would rebuke David for his sin and David would repent. In that repentance, David expels some serious words (see Psalm 51). In the midst of that profound confession, David utters these incredible words: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit” (verse 12).
The second part is a call for help to turn away from sin that engulfs his life. In doing this, the desire is to be restored in joy that is known through salvation. Two things that cannot coexist together are sin and joy; while sin may provide a level of pleasure, pleasure is fleeting eventually leaving a person (often quickly) in search of more. Joy, in contrast, is ongoing and steady, reflective of the person (God) who initiates joy.
David notes a connection between joy and salvation. There should be a great joy in the salvation that comes from the Lord. First, in the very act of salvation itself. Consider both the quantity of our sins and the depths of each one and the fact that salvation can occur at all is beyond comprehension. Yet, the Lord is gracious providing a permanent sacrifice for that sin having taken it upon himself through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are made clean, set free, why would we not be joyful at that point? Salvation provides a level of freedom that a pagan world cannot know. Finding an identity in Christ frees us – no longer bound to results, no longer bound to public opinion, the believer is free to serve God and not man. Complete freedom, complete joy come from salvation. The second aspect of joy comes from the author of salvation: God. This God who is sovereign, working all things out for His glory and His people’s good (Romans 8:28), even the most severe of trials is meant to develop godly character (James 1:2-12). What great confidence, and joy, come from knowing our God and His salvation.
What happens when we find joy in our salvation? First, it is an expression of thankfulness, not taking granted the high cost of that salvation. Second, it reflects God’s glory to others, thus acting both as praise to God and a testimony of who God is to those who do not believe. Finally, joy in salvation generates contentment, knowing that eternal life is secured despite the activities and actions in this temporal life.
Restore my joy in salvation. Those are likely words that need to mark our prayers to God as well, both in a confession of sin and an expression of our desire to be filled by His Spirit. Let that be our heart’s desire this upcoming month and more as we enter the Christmas season, a time to remember the birth of our Savior and the gift of salvation.