Holidays were designed to be holy days. In the Old Testament, God gave His people special times to remember, rest, reunite, reconnect, and rejoice. Too often the holidays are a time of loneliness, frustration, and depression. Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. We sing songs that say, “Joy to the world” and “Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.” How joyful and triumphant are you? If you aren’t these things, why aren’t you? Sin steals joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Sin saps us of our strength. It is hard to be happy and guilty at the same time.
In Psalm 51:12, David prays, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” The context of this prayer is when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. David was chosen and anointed by God to be King. He became overconfident, proud, and dropped his guard. He ignored his conscience. When Bathsheba conceived, David not only tried to cover it up, but he had Bathsheba’s husband killed. For one year, David acted like it never happened, until Nathan the prophet confronted him. David fell to the floor and wept bitterly in repentance. David had a choice. He could live in denial with no joy or admit his guilt and restore joy! He had a change of heart. A turning point. Out of that experience, we have the 51st Psalm. Looking at that Psalm, we see three steps to restoring the joy.
In verses 1-5, we see that David took personal responsibility. He did not play the blame game or make excuses. It’s often easy for us to acknowledge the sin in others, but we are not that good at acknowledging when it comes to personal sin. David asked the Lord to wash him (v. 2). He was serious about dealing with sin. There was no doubt, he crossed the line. In verse 5 he recognizes, “Surely I was sinful at birth.” The root cause of our sin is a sin nature. We are all sinners from birth. No one has to teach our children how to sin. It comes naturally. David is not a sinner because he committed adultery. He committed adultery because he was a sinner. We are all sinners by birth and by choice. That is why we must daily confess our sin and crucify the old nature. If you have committed adultery emotionally or physically and you keep calling them, texting, messaging them on facebook, break it off. Stop all contact. No matter our sin, if we want restored joy, we have to do the right thing and take responsibility.
David prays, “Cleanse me with hyssop…” (v. 7). Hyssop was customarily used when making sacrifices. It would be dipped in blood and used to sprinkle the blood on the altar. David is saying that he wants to be washed in the blood (1 John 1:9). David had lost his joy. The most miserable person is not an unbeliever, but a believer who has lost their joy. If you have lost the “want to” or “get to” attitude when it comes to reading your Bible, going to church, serving, and giving, that is a warning sign. David prays for God to create a pure heart in him and to restore his joy (v. 10, 12). Repentance is not a negative word. It is a positive word that simply means to turn. The night David sinned with Bathsheba in private, God was watching. God is watching and listening all the time! Have you gotten to the place that you say, “God, I am ashamed of what I said? I am ashamed of the way I acted.” God can restore the joy! Stop where you are. Don’t go down that road anymore. Repent. God can give you a full recovery.
David commits to teach God’s ways, to sing of His righteousness, and to declare His praise (v. 13-15). Then, he asks that God would prosper and build up the walls of Jerusalem (v. 18). God will prosper you, build you, and raise you up! God will give you a brand new start. God can use your mistakes to keep others from making the same mistake. God can use your failure, hurt, and scars to help others because you have been there.
Forgiveness is not overlooking the failures and hurts. God’s forgiveness is based on the cross. God does not overlook sin. Christ paid for the full penalty of our sin, making forgiveness possible. God does not forgive everyone, only those who repent. Give your life, all of it, the good and the bad, to God. Take responsibility, repent, and let Him restore you and your joy.