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Joy

Date: Jan. 11, 2015

Author: Bob Henkins

Psalm 51:1-19

Key Verse: Psalm 51:12

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Tell me something that you lose over and over again? Your cell phone, keys, TV remote? Maybe the easiest thing that we can lose is our joy. You may be in a great mood one minute and then all of a sudden bam, your joy goes out the window. Maybe you get a bad phone call, or an unpleasant email or someone simply doesn’t say hi to you in the morning. Our joy might be the easiest thing for us to lose. Sometimes it seems like people, or circumstances are trying to rob us of it. The Bible says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17) What this is telling us is that, wherever the kingdom of God is, in that place there will be righteousness, peace and joy. So, as Christians, the kingdom of God should be in our heart. But how often do we lose that joy and our hearts are no place where God wants to dwell because its full of complaints and anger. Have any of you ever been in this situation? And when you find yourself here, how do you get out, and have your joy restored? That’s where today’s passage comes in. I believe that in this passage we find the reason we lose our joy and how we can get it back.

Before we get into this passage I think we need to understand it’s context and why it was written. The title of this section gives it away, it says, “A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” This is what happened, this story takes place in 2 Samuel 11-12. One particular season, King David stayed home while his soldiers went off to war. And one night as he was walking around on his rooftop enjoying the cool evening air, he saw a beautiful woman bathing. And as he gazed upon the naked woman, a craving filled his heart. He had to have her. But the problem was, she may have been the daughter of one of his personal body guards. They are not quite sure, however what is worse, she definitely was the wife of Uriah, another one of his body guards. Even that didn’t stop him. He had her brought to him and she became pregnant. So in order to cover up his wrongdoing he recalled her husband, who had been away at war. David thought that if he just got him home, nature would take its course, he would spend time at home with his wife and everyone would think the baby was his. Problem solved. However what David didn’t count on was her husband’s loyalty and sincere heart. There was nothing David could do to get him to go home and spend the night with his wife. “How could I do that when the other men are out there fighting & dying. It wouldn’t be right,” he said. David even tried to get him drunk so that his guard would be down, but that didn’t work. So David went to plan b. He wrote a letter to the army commander, saying, “Put Uriah, in the front line where the fighting is fiercest, and then withdraw from him so that he will be killed.” Imagine carrying a letter that had your own death sentence in it, and the only thing you did was be loyal to the one who wrote the letter. The army commander obeyed King David’s instruction and sadly Uriah was killed. After the time of mourning had passed David did the honorable thing and took the poor grieving widow home to be his wife. He was successful, he kept his secret quiet. David thought that he had sufficiently covered up his sin. Isn’t that the case with all sin, we want to keep it quiet, hide it away and forget about it.

However the Lord knew everything that happened and he wasn’t pleased with David. So he sent Nathan the prophet to confront him by telling him this parable. “…There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.” (2 Sam 12)

Until this point King David thought that he had covered up his sinful act. His sin of adultery bothered him. He knew it was wrong but he didn’t care. He did it anyway. Then when the situation got complicated and she got pregnant, David felt that it was better to commit murder and keep his honor rather than to admit his wrong doing. His relationship with God had been severed. And it’s when we’re in this condition that we lose our joy. The weight and guilt of sin began to press upon David and instead of turning to God in repentance, he tries to solve it himself but in the end he only makes matters worse. However when the prophet Nathan rebukes David, (this was God’s grace and love by the way) he comes to his senses and cries out to God in prayer and beautiful repentance.

Usually people lose their joy because of sin, either because of their own sin or because of someone else’s. The reason we lose our joy because at the root of the problem, our relationship with God has been broken. For God is the source of joy and when we are cut off from that source we have to try and find it elsewhere. And while it’s true that we can find joy without God in life, but the problem is that it’s not sustainable. It comes and goes according to the situation. So when we’re apart from God we have to manufacture joy in other ways. A couple of years ago a movie came out called the Wolf of Wall Street, which was based upon the true story of Jordon Belfort. After he got out of prison he was asked in an interview, “Did you feel guilty about taking people’s life savings and destroying their lives?” Jordon responded, “Of course we did, that’s why we did all those drugs and crazy things.” They had to manufacture joy because they were cut off from the source of joy, God, because of sin. And it wasn’t sustainable, eventually they were to prison.

What about the flip side, when someone sins against you, how can you be joyful? I’m not saying that we have to go around with big goofy smiles on our face no matter what happens to us. The Bible says that there is a time for everything, a time for mourning and a time for laughter. But even in the times of suffering, we should be joyful. There are always 2 sides to look at every situation, it’s your choice how you look at them. Hebrews 10:34 gives us an example, “You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” In this case you can choose to be angry about losing your property, or look forward to the better possessions you will have in heaven. James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” The disciples rejoiced even after they had been in prison and beaten. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” We lose joy when we lose hope, and peace. Notice it says that God sustains us through the power of the Holy Spirit, so when that connection to God is broken, we lose that power and our joy disappears like a cloud in the sky.

And so when you find yourself in this situation we can learn several things from David’s example. Take a look at verse 1. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” The first thing we learn is that no matter what, whether we are the cause or not, we need to come to God in prayer. We need to return to the source of life and joy. And we need to do it on God’s terms not ours. David knew that he did wrong, He acknowledged his sins and took responsibility for his action and he came to God in humbleness and cried out for his mercy. He didn’t try to justify his actions or worse pass responsibility off to someone else, like Adam did, “It wasn’t me, it was the woman you gave me.” (Ge 3) David simply cried out for God’s mercy. Mercy is defined as showing kindness or compassion toward an offender or enemy. There was nothing he could do by himself, he knew that he was guilty, he could only find hope in God’s mercy. David trusted in God’s mercy because it was rooted in God’s love and compassion. That’s where the source of joy comes from, God’s mercy, love, and compassion. David’s first prayer is for pity and his second he asked that God wipe out his transgressions, his wrong doings completely. He says transgressions, that’s plural, more than one. He is making a point to confess all his sins, not just selective ones. When we come to God in prayer, we need to be honest. God knows all we are not going to shock him. We need to be honest and complete. David even prayed to be forgiven of his known and unknown sins.

Take a look at verses 2 and 3. “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” Here David, depending upon God’s mercy, believes that God can wash, and will, away his sin. The first step in repentance is contrition, the second is confession and the third is amendment of life. And notice that he keeps his sin ever before him. He doesn’t try to hide it from himself. Generally people don’t want to remember the bad things they’ve done, they try to put it behind them and forget about it. I think this is the nature of fake repentance, confess and forget. However, genuine repentance can never forget, it should stand as a warning for the future. Kind of like an alcoholic at an AA meeting, the danger is always present, you can never forget because if you do, the danger is that it will happen again. But often we take sin too lightly and become repeat offenders. Then how can God take our repentance sincerely if we do it over and over again?

Verse 4 says, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” This is a hard one to understand. No sin is more directly against someone than adultery and murder and yet David says that he has sinned against God only. To understand this I believe that David views his sin spiritually. After all his is king, and as we’ve seen down through history, kings do whatever they want. They are the ones to make laws. However David knows that there is a higher authority than him, and that is God. And God’s laws are higher than his laws. So ultimately when we sin, we sin against God.

Take a look at verses 5-6. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.” In this verse, David is not blaming his mother for his sin, “She made me, it’s her fault.” Rather he saying, “Not only have I committed acts of sin, but sin is ingrained in my nature. It is part of who I am.” I heard a story that illustrated this and I’d like to tell it to you. There was a guy whose dog gave birth to a litter of puppies. And these puppies were so cute. At first when they were born, their eyes were closed and they just squirmed around trying to find their momma’s nipple so they could eat. When they were first born they didn’t really look or act like a dog. But after a couple of weeks they began to walk and bark with their familiar cute little puppy voices. That’s when you could know see what they really were. Now they didn’t suddenly become dogs when they began to bark or do things that dogs do. Quite the opposite, they began to do those things when they became old enough to do them. When they were cute little helpless pups, they were no less a dog, it’s just they hadn’t matured yet. It’s the same with people. We don’t just sin and suddenly become sinners. We sin because we are sinners. It’s who we are. When we see a cute baby grow up and when they tell their first lie, then we say now they’re a liar. Nope, they are a liar from birth and it’s just a matter of time before they grow up and reveal their true nature. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. David understood this. He was conceived in it and only the strongest of remedies can cleanse him from it. But cleansing is not enough, we need renewal.

And in verse 7 we see where this renewal comes from. “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Here hyssop is in reference to the Passover that happened in Egypt, when the blood of the lamb was put on the door frames that saved the Israelites from death. However the blood of the lamb points to Jesus who came so save us from our sins. Ultimately this is the solution to all our sin problems. We’ve just went through the Christmas season where we’ve sang “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” David looked forward to the Jesus, the Messiah, who would save his people from their sins. Sin is like a huge debt that we can’t pay back. However Jesus paid that debt for us. When we realize that our debt has been paid, we are full of joy, overflowing joy. All we have to do is accept it by repenting of our sins. God find joy in saving us. When we lose something, like our keys, Mike’s ear muffs, we are so happy when we find it again. Like the parable of the lost coin. “8“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”” (Lk 15) Joy is contagious. We are full of joy when we repent, God is full of joy and all heaven is full of joy.

When David realizes his salvation he cries out for God’s restoration. Take a look at verses 10-12. “10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” At this point he wants his relationship with God restored more than anything, but for that to happen his heart needs to be purified and to do this we need the Holy Spirit. We can’t do it by ourselves. It’s here we see his complete restoration, his heart, his body, his spirit and his joy. David acknowledges that God is the source of joy through his salvation and he cries out to God to restore his joy to what it once was.

And when his joy has been restored, it will begin to flow out from him to others. Verse 13-15 say, “13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.” When our joy is restored, we will naturally sing and be happy and praise God. We won’t be able to contain ourselves. We will want to share the reason for our happiness with others. We will have a willing spirit.

Verse 12 again, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” One reason this verse spoke to me is because over the past several months the weight of life began to take it’s toll on me. With difficulty of my job, the tough schedule of school, work, family and ministry, the financial strain after Julia went back to school, the responsibility of our kids, serving ministry and of course my sin. With all these my joy has been squeezed from life and sometimes it is so hard to carry on. So when I read this passage verse 12 lifted my spirits. Yes I want the joy of my salvation restored to me. I don’t want God to lessen my burden, just my joy to be restored so that once again my heart is willing. But for this to happen, like David I must repent before God day after day after day.

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