Psalm 51: The Joy of God’s Salvation

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Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Two Trees Touching | Tomball, TX | February 2023

After David sinned so callously with Bathsheba, he lost his sense of joy in God’s favor and blessing. There is nothing to suggest that David had experienced any qualms about his behavior with Bathsheba and Uriah. Life went on. It wasn’t until after Nathan confronted David that he came to grips with what he had done.

It’s also likely that David then realized he had lost sight of God’s favor and grace. He had traded his place as a man after God’s heart for a life of shameful denial of his unrepentant sin. Before this comeuppance his life was just fine. He had servants, wives, soldiers, a palace of cedar and all manner of worldly blessings. But he had lost sight of God’s part in all of life. Apparently he lost sight of God’s salvation itself and how much joy it brings to the repentant heart to know that God loves us even in the face of our failures.

Once David confessed his sin and received forgiveness, the table was set for a return to a greater joy than that of happy days, trophy wives, palatial digs, the king’s prerogatives, and the good life.

Recently we experienced an untimely death in our church family. Everyone was shocked. When we gathered for Ash Wednesday worship, however, there was a sense of joy among all those in attendance. You could sense it. People were talking, greeting one another, and sharing in the joy of God’s salvation. We knew we had lost a dear brother all too early in his life. We knew it would hit his wife, children, and extended family so hard. But we knew even though we are dust and to dust we would return, that wasn’t the final word. My friend and classmate, and retired seminary professor posted on Facebook:

If you are a Christian, the chances are extremely good that you will return to dust. The chances are not, however, 100%; it all depends on what “soon” means. The chances of you not REMAINING dust are, I’m happy to say . . . 100. Per. Cent. – Jeff Gibbs

A friend of his added this: “It’s not in the hymnal, but my Ash Wednesday saying is ‘from dust you have come, to dust you shall return, and from dust you will rise again.’”

Whether the sting of death has bitten hard, or you are crawling out of a dungeon of your own sin, when you seek God’s grace there comes along with it, the joy of God’s salvation. And what a joy it is! Jesus earned it for you and all people when he died for the sins of the world. He secured it when he rose from the dead. God promises it to all who believe in him. And like David, if we continue that prayer we will recall that the joy of God’s salvation is to be shared so that transgressors will be taught the truth of God’s salvation and sinners will return to God.

Talk about joy! Take a quick look at Luke 15 and you see played out how complete that joy is. It’s shared by God and all the angels in heaven when one sinner repents. What glorious joy that is!

1 comment
  1. Barbara Rogers said:

    Beautiful song and message.

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