Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalms 51:12
After reading again Psalm 51 I was struck with the unique phrase: “and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
What does that mean? Upon reading this, David is praying for something but what exactly is it and how does it connect with the theme of this psalm?
Well first of all, we know the theme of Psalm 51 is repentance and confession. We know this psalm was written by David after his sin with Uriah’s wife. We know this sin came about because David chose to be dependent upon himself rather than God. Things always have a tendency of spiraling downward when we rely upon ourselves and not God. We were made to be dependent, just not on ourselves. David is feeling this firsthand as He writes this psalm. Dependency is not a weakness, and yet we seem to fight it with every fiber in our bodies. As Paul Tripp says, “It is the legacy of our fallenness to do everything we can to conceptually and functionally repudiate the doctrine of human dependency.”
It is no wonder that when Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the garden, the temptation was aimed at newly formed mankind’s pride. This was really perpetuated by Satan’s questioning God’s Word. Satan appealed to newly formed humanity with a lie of autonomy. “Did God really say…” and “You shall not surely die…”.
Are you really going to let another tell you how to live? Isn’t your life your choice? Independence.
Furthermore, Satan’s temptation provoked within Adam and Eve a sense of living for themselves, which really is a revulsion of dependency. They were easily tempted to not obey, i.e., live for God, but rather, for themselves.
This was David’s temptation and it is ours. David has been confronted by Nathan and his sin is ever before him. He simultaneously convinced himself that living for his desires was better than following God’s Word. Ultimately, he had wanted his own way. Independence.
There is something so beautiful about dependency on God. But this takes a very intentional look and focus to see it today. It is no surprise the world scorns dependency like a virus. To be dependent is seen as weak and unattractive to the world. However, God seems to insist we stay dependent so much so that He constantly reminds us we can do nothing for ourselves worthy of heaven. So instead, God has promised to sustain us by his grace. Dependence.
God has promised to uphold us with forgiveness… just as He did David. He has promised to uphold us by being the strength in which we live and follow Him. He has promised to uphold us in protection by delivering us from evil, as He taught us to pray. He has promised to uphold us in wisdom, to keep us from our own arrogant foolishness. He has promised to uphold us with endurance, because He knows we cannot resist temptations without Him. He has promised to uphold us with everlasting life with Him, encouraging us that one day all the evil in the world will one day be gone.
So pray along with David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation!” And “uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Oh Lord, change my will and make it Thine! Make my heart long to obey you and to be dependent on your ways. As the grieving father prayed in the Gospels, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.” Sustain us with a willing Spirit to be bound to You, Lord.
Is there anywhere in your life that you are struggling with independence? Why do you want your will over the Lord’s will so badly? Why does dependence upon God seem so risky to you? Perhaps think over the areas of your life that these days have revealed to you that you are not trusting Christ as well as you thought.