Because He Had No Joy

Because He Had No Joy
Robert Wurtz II

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. (Psalm 51:8)

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psalm 51:12)


It is impossible for a Christian to find lasting happiness in any kind of sin, for it cannot answer the basic inward need for genuine heaven sent joy. David, the great king, found this out the hard way. He had started backsliding we might say, and in the process committed a terrible crime (sin) against God. He committed adultery with Bathsheeba and then ordered Uriah the Hitite to his death. The effects of his sin were manifest in almost unspeakable horrors. His own son raped his own daughter. His son Absalom heard about it and killed his own brother. Before it was over with Absalom was dead too; strung by the hair of the head between heaven and earth where he exited this life to stand before God. 

All of this was prophesied in advance as the consequence of David’s sin. The details were not given, only a summary; “the sword will not depart from your house.” For years David struggled with lust and everybody knew it. In fact, when he lay dying his body started to get cold so they tried to bring a beautiful young woman into his bedroom to warm him up. He had been reeling from the effects of his sin(s) for decades perhaps, and it has all come down to this. I don’t know how you feel about it, but I say, “how embarrassing?” To have such a reputation for being with women that such a tactic would be tried in the first place. Her name was Abishag, but “he knew her not.” (1 Kings 1:1ff) “He gat no heat” says the KJV, so they sought a damsel. This ought to get his temperature up. Nay verily. After a life like he had lived, he had had his fill of it all. 

You will notice in Psalm 51 that David asked God for joy in two different verses. Some have taken this to mean that David had already lost his joy before he ever committed those terrible sins. Leonard Ravenhill once said that “entertainment is the Devil’s substitute for joy.” I suggest this is true, but I would like to add to it. Sin is the Devil’s substitute for joy. It begins with a simple lie planted in the heart and mind of an adulterer or adultress; Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. (Proverbs 9:17) I once knew a man that liked to quote this verse. Unfortunately he walked out verse 18 too; But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell. (Proverbs 9:18) Indeed he found that a willing subject can be found almost any place. There are no shortage of people in the world that have no scruples. I don’t know where this man is today. I only know he sacrificed his wife, family, ministry and all of his Christian friends for a glass of “stolen waters.”

You can tell when you’re getting cold in the Lord. You get rebellious and unwilling to listen to counsel. Once the process begins of trying to substitute entertainment for joy it will not be long until sin is used as well. Why? Because nothing can substitute for joy. All those things can do is serve as a place marker- holding you over until the next vile thing comes along. It’s all a sham and a lie. David would have understood this because he was a man of God’s word; nevertheless, for some reason he ran roughshod over all that he knew was right. I suggest that reason was joylessness coupled with selfishness. 

Who ever said that a child of God is supposed to be happy all the time? I’ll tell you who- many TV preachers. It is a lie. God wants us to have joy, but that is a very different thing than self-seeking happiness. Joy can be present in the most violent personal storms imaginable. Paul told the Philippians to “rejoice!” He wrote that from a dirty jail cell. Joy is what we need, not entertainment. Joy is what we need, not self-seeking sin. David cried out to God for it, Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. (Psalm 51:8) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psalm 51:12) If ever he were to get his life together it would have to begin with a fresh infusion of joy. 

Let me say that many Christians are locked in a vicious cycle where they are resisting the Holy Spirit and as a consequence have little or no joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and there is no substitute for it. If you resist the Holy Spirit –  you resist joy (along with love, peace, etc.). A person in this condition is on a slippery slope to total destruction. They will seek pleasure to compensate for the missing joy until they end up in a similar scenario as David was in. I once heard a famous preacher say, “When the joy of the Lord is gone in my life I start heading down to the miry places.” He was suggesting that joylessness leaves a void in our life that the world and the Devil will tempt us to fill with gross sin. 

Because he had no joy- David found a sin to fill the void. It didn’t happen over night, but eventually it did. Because David sinned, he completely lost the joy of his salvation as well. How can you enjoy anything when your conscience is eating at you day and night and the hand of the Lord is heavy upon you? You risk becoming the most miserable and unreachable person on earth if you continue in this state. David did a terrible thing, but God restored him when he truly repented. But I think of Judas as well. He did a terrible thing too, but the outcome was very different. It was bad enough that he betrayed the Lord, but added to this he took his own life. This is very instructive. The Devil is not just interested in ruining our lives and drowning us in our sins consequences, he wants a person to despair to the point that they take their own life. 

All of this can be traced by to the one phrase, “because he had no joy.” May the Lord sober our minds to the need to have His Holy Spirit working in us, bringing us joy and love and peace. Without joy we become capable of anything in our quest to find a replacement.  

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