Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day twenty-seven:
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12 ESV).
“The psalm of all psalms” is how one writer described this song that David composed in those broken moments when the prophet’s accusation still echoed in his throne room: “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). You are the man who received the crown of Israel but then stole the wife of your most loyal servant (12:8). You are the anointed protector of the sheep who has now slaughtered one of his own (12:9). You are the man whose sin will claim the life of your son (12:14)–not only the infant now nestled at Bathsheba’s breast but also a more distant Son who will die spiked on a blood-soaked beam. Because–and only because–of this more distant Son, “The LORD also has put away your sin” (12:13).
The heart of this “psalm of all psalms” is David’s plea for restoration (Psalm 51:7-12), and the climax of this plea is his yearning cry for “the joy of your salvation” (51:12). David hadn’t forfeited God’s gift of salvation, but he had lost the joy of what God in his grace had provided.
When, though, did David lose this joy of his salvation, and why? Was it after his sin? Or could it have been at some point before? I would suggest that David’s loss of joy was not the result of his sin but part of the cause. David’s sinful actions were the fruit of his failure to recall that the lasting joy of God’s salvation far outstripped the passing pleasure of Bathsheba’s flesh. David had already lost sight of the joy of God’s salvation before he saw the young woman bathing on the roof and chose to call her into his chambers. It was, at least in part, due to David’s misplaced joy that he sacrificed his integrity for a false and fleeting joy that could never satisfy his soul. Now, the penitent king begged God to restore his lost joy.
Purity flows from a heart that recognizes the joy of God’s salvation as a gift more satisfying than any competing pleasure the world can provide. This joy is accompanied by inward transformation (“a willing spirit,” 51:12) and results in outward proclamation (51:13).
My Father and my God,
The day has barely begun
and already I hear the serpent’s soft-pedaled whisper
telling me that there are pleasures greater
than anything you can offer.
Give me a willing spirit–
a spirit willing to trust
that there is no pleasure greater than the joy you have granted in Christ,
that there is no pleasure so great that it is worth trading for your holiness
and that there is no gift I need that you through your Spirit will not provide
In the name of Jesus Christ, my Brother and my Lord,
What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).
Today’s devotional was written by Timothy Paul Jones. Timothy Paul Jones serves as associate vice president and professor of leadership at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before coming to Louisville, Timothy led churches in Missouri and Oklahoma as a pastor and an associate pastor. He has authored or contributed to more than a dozen books, and he blogs at timothypauljones.com. Timothy and his wife Rayann have three daughters; the Jones family serves in the SojournKids children’s ministry at Sojourn Community Church.