Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a rightt spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Ps 51:8-12)
David writes this psalm after being confronted by the prophet Nathan regarding his sin with Bathsheba. It was an awful thing for the king to do and God did bring consequences. For one, his son with Bathsheba was taken by the Lord. What strikes me as I read this is the suffering that David experienced as a result of his own sin and the desire to be relieved of it. “Let the bones you have broken rejoice.” When David is confronted with his sin it is a terrible thing and it shakes him to his core. Sin has a way of smothering all joy. The flip side is also true. The experience of real joy smothers our sin – both our doing of it and our suffering from it.
JC Ryle wrote an essay on prayer and makes this statement about private prayer (which connects us with the joy of knowing God),
Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer.
I wonder if David’s experience with Bathsheba was a time devoid of devotional time with the Lord. My guess is that it was. There are other markers within David’s life that would indicate as much though I won’t elaborate. The point is, joy and sin – just as prayer and sin, are incompatible. That is not to say there isn’t a degree of pleasure in sin. But it is not the same as joy. Joy is wholesome and builds up. The pleasure of sin is fleeting and tears down.
Have you known the kind of suffering David describes?
Chronological Reading Plan plus Psalms: Lev 22-24, Ps 51