It is thought that Psalm 51 was written by David after his sin with Bathsheba. In this Psalm, he is engulfed with emotion; he is asking God to have mercy on him and extend His forgiveness. In the first part of verse 12 he said "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation." David wanted to be restored to God's full favor. It seems he was asking God to give him back the joy which he had when he was walking uprightly. While in a lost state, he felt darkness, despair, and pain. He felt this way because of his sin. Many today, who were once faithful servants of God, feel this same despair which can only be alleviated by their transgressions being blotted out, being washed thoroughly from their iniquity, and by being cleansed from their sins. In the New Testament, Paul asked the wayward Galatians (4:15), "What has happened to all your joy ..."?
The word "joy" occurs over 60 times in the New Testament. It is an emotion which should certainly characterize the child of God today. In fact, it is listed as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Further, Paul said in Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" This verse is thought of as the theme of the entire book. Yet, Paul was in prison when he wrote it, not knowing whether he would live or die.
Christians have so much to be joyful about as members of God's family. In Paul's opening remarks to the Ephesians, he said (1:3), "Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." More specifically, 1:7 says, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." In I Peter 2:9, Peter described Christians as, "...a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Paul also pointed out in Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Christians will obviously face hardships in life like everyone else (Note I Pet. 4:14-16, Mt. 5:10-12). But, the child of God has a deep and abiding joy and hope which cannot be taken away by external circumstances. Christians have the hope of eternal life. In I Thessalonians 4:14, Paul said we are not to sorrow as those who have no hope. In John 16, just before His death, Jesus told his disciples he would soon be leaving them and they would be sorrowful, but he pointed out their sorrow would be turned into joy (vs. 20). In verse 22 he said, "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you." Christians have disappointments and heartaches, but as long as they remain faithful to God, they have a joy which cannot be taken away.
If you are not a Christian, have you thought about the joy you could have as a child of God? Those who are Christians need to appreciate the "joy of their salvation" as David did and make sure they never lose it.
By Mike Johnson
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