Have you ever tried to picture a place based solely on how someone explains it to you? Perhaps your friend has just come from a trip and they are trying their best to paint a picture of where they just spent the last few days. You try your hardest to picture the location, but no matter how good the explanation is, the picture in your mind will never be as wonderful and exact as the person who has actually been there.
While it is difficult to picture a place that you have never been, something that is even more impossible to convey with words alone is a feeling. The joy of holding your baby for the first time, the passion of young love, the grief of losing someone close to you – these are all things that could not possibly be felt fully unless it is something that you have experienced personally.
In the 51st Psalm David mentions such an emotion. Psalm 51:12 David asks the Lord “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation”. To someone that has never experienced the “joy of salvation” this would seem to be an odd request for David to ask for. While the Christian life is not based on feelings and emotions, living the Christian life will result in many feelings and emotions. This is not a bad thing, and just like it is seen in this verse written by the Psalmist – it is not wrong to want to experience such emotions.
So, what is the joy of salvation? Is the joy of salvation something that a Christian receives when they receive Christ and cannot be lost – or is it something more? We know by looking at the life of David that the Psalmist already had a relationship with God. As David writes in Psalm 23, he experienced a personal relationship with the Lord so we know that David has already experienced Salvation. If David was in fact already a child of God when he wrote Psalm 51, what is David talking about when he mentions the joy of his salvation, and why was it something that was missing from the Psalmist’s life?
Psalm 51 was written as a prayer of repentance to the Lord after David had fallen into sin and tried to cover it up from the Lord and everyone around him. David had been living a life far from the center of God’s will. Living so far from God had caused David to lose the joy that he had once experienced when he was truly living as though the Lord was his shepherd. No one had to tell David that he was unhappy. No one had to tell David that he was not living an abundant life because David knew what that felt like. David knew what it felt like when there was nothing between him and his Savior – and he wanted to feel that once more.
So, the question is presented to you – Do you know how it feels? Do you know how it feels to be completely clean from sin and live so close to the Savior? If you can not answer yes to that question, may you take a moment to examine yourself to see if you have ever accepted Christ to be your Savior personally. Just like any other emotion, the joy and peace that you will have once you have accepted Christ as your Savior can not be understood until you experience it.
Perhaps you do know how it feels. Perhaps you can look back at a time in your life that there truly was nothing between you and your Savior and you experienced the joy that David so desperately wanted back in his life. If you are like David today and you are longing to experience the joy that you once felt before whatever sin got its hold on your life, may you see the life of David as a testimony that it is never too late to return to the God that saved you. And you too may once again experience the joy that comes from living the victorious Christian life!