The Joy of Salvation

The default attitudinal mode of a Christian believer should be joy.

One of the absolutely best things about being a Christian is the joy that comes from the hope of a bright future. No matter how dark or sorrowful the current circumstances may be, those redeemed by the Lord know that a better tomorrow is just ahead, and a glorious eternity is their inheritance. The prophet Isaiah offers these encouraging words:

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return

and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

they shall obtain gladness and joy,

and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 51:11 (ESV)

sadnessKing David knew the joy that comes from a right relationship with the Almighty God. The Psalms, most of which were written by David, are full of exuberant expressions of praise, thanksgiving, and gladness because of the Lord’s overwhelming goodness to David and to the people of Israel. But David, in a moment of lust and weakness, threw it all away by committing adultery with Bathsheba, who was another man’s wife. Then he piled sin upon sin as he tried to cover up his wrongdoing. He even went as far as to order Bathsheba’s husband to be put in a vulnerable place while in battle, assuring he would be killed by the enemy. When the prophet Nathan exposed David’s wrongdoing, David was miserable, and he wrote a Psalm (51) as a confession of his guilt and a plea to God to restore his previous state of happiness:

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.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence,

and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:7-12 (ESV)

David knew that God could forgive him, even though it was necessary for David to suffer the consequences of his grievous sins. “Let me hear joy and gladness…restore to me the joy of your salvation.” The pleasures of sin may bring a temporary thrill, but the guilt suffered afterwards, and the loss of gladness and joy, are the inevitable result. David did not ask the Lord to restore to him salvation; he asked the Lord to restore to him the gladness and joy that comes with an active relationship with the Lord.

Jesus’ words to the woman he forgave who was caught in adultery were “go and sin no more.” Even when we are agonizing over our unrighteousness, there is the certain hope of forgiveness, and the faith that our gracious Savior will soon restore to us the joy of salvation.

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