Psalm 51:12
Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit.
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(12) Joy of thy salvation.—This again points to a sense of restoration of covenant privileges.

Thy free spirit.—Rather, with a willing spirit. Or we may render, a willing spirit shall support me.

51:7-15 Purge me with hyssop, with the blood of Christ applied to my soul by a lively faith, as the water of purification was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop. The blood of Christ is called the blood of sprinkling, Heb 12:24. If this blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, cleanse us from our sin, then we shall be clean indeed, Heb 10:2. He asks not to be comforted, till he is first cleansed; if sin, the bitter root of sorrow, be taken away, he can pray in faith, Let me have a well-grounded peace, of thy creating, so that the bones broken by convictions may rejoice, may be comforted. Hide thy face from my sins; blot out all mine iniquities out of thy book; blot them out, as a cloud is blotted out and dispelled by the beams of the sun. And the believer desires renewal to holiness as much as the joy of salvation. David now saw, more than ever, what an unclean heart he had, and sadly laments it; but he sees it is not in his own power to amend it, and therefore begs God would create in him a clean heart. When the sinner feels this change is necessary, and reads the promise of God to that purpose, he begins to ask it. He knew he had by his sin grieved the Holy Spirit, and provoked him to withdraw. This he dreads more than anything. He prays that Divine comforts may be restored to him. When we give ourselves cause to doubt our interest in salvation, how can we expect the joy of it? This had made him weak; he prays, I am ready to fall, either into sin or into despair, therefore uphold me with thy Spirit. Thy Spirit is a free Spirit, a free Agent himself, working freely. And the more cheerful we are in our duty, the more constant we shall be to it. What is this but the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free, which is contrasted with the yoke of bondage? Ga 5:1. It is the Spirit of adoption spoken to the heart. Those to whom God is the God of salvation, he will deliver from guilt; for the salvation he is the God of, is salvation from sin. We may therefore plead with him, Lord, thou art the God of my salvation, therefore deliver me from the dominion of sin. And when the lips are opened, what should they speak but the praises of God for his forgiving mercy?Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation - literally, "Cause the joy of thy salvation to return." This implies that he had formerly known what was the happiness of being a friend of God, and of having a hope of salvation. That joy had been taken from him by his sin. He had lost his peace of mind. His soul was sad and cheerless. Sin always produces this effect. The only way to enjoy religion is to do that which is right; the only way to secure the favor of God is to obey his commands; the only way in which we can have comforting evidence that we are his children is by doing that which shall be pleasing to him: 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:10. The path of sin is a dark path, and in that path neither hope nor comfort can be found.

And uphold me with thy free spirit - That is, Sustain me; keep me from falling. The words ""with thy"" are not in the original, and there is nothing there to indicate that by the word "spirit" the psalmist refers to the Spirit of God, though it should be observed that there is nothing "against" such a supposition. The word rendered "free" - נדיב nâdı̂yb - means properly "willing, voluntary, ready, prompt;" 1 Chronicles 28:21; Exodus 35:5. Then the word means liberal, generous, noble-minded; Isaiah 32:5, Isaiah 32:8; Proverbs 17:7, Proverbs 17:26. It would seem here to mean "a "willing" spirit," referring to David's own mind or spirit; and the prayer is, that God would uphold or sustain him "in" a "willing" spirit or state of mind; that is, a state of mind in which he would he "willing" and "ready" to obey all the commands of God, and to serve him faithfully. What he prayed for was grace and strength that he might be "kept" in a state of mind which would be constant and firm Psalm 51:10, and a state in which he would always be found "willing" and ready to keep the commandments of God. It is a proper object of prayer by all that they may be always kept in a state of mind in which they will be willing to do all that God requires of them, and to bear all that may be laid on them.

12. free spirit—"thy" ought not to be supplied, for the word "free" is, literally, "willing," and "spirit" is that of David. "Let a willing spirit uphold me," that is, with a soul willingly conformed to God's law, he would be preserved in a right course of conduct. The joy of thy salvation; the comfortable sense of thy saving grace and help, promised and vouchsafed to me, both for my present and everlasting salvation. Uphold me; a weak and frail creature, never able to stand against corruption and temptation without thy powerful and gracious succours.

Free; or, ingenuous, or liberal, or princely; which he seems to oppose to his own base, and illiberal; and disingenuous, and servile spirit, which he had discovered in his wicked and unworthy practices; and desires a better spirit of God, which may free him from the bondage of sin, and enable and incline him freely, and cheerfully, and constantly to run the way of God’s precepts. See Exodus 35:21 Psalm 110:3 Romans 8:15,16 2 Corinthians 3:17. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation,.... Not temporal, but spiritual and eternal; and designs either Christ himself, who is God's salvation, of his appointing and providing, in the view of whom, as such, David had much spiritual joy; or the salvation he was to work out, which God the Father had contrived the scheme of in him, had covenanted with him to do, and had appointed his people to: salvation itself is a sure thing, and can never fail, being founded upon the purpose and counsel of God, which shall ever stand; and is secured in the covenant of grace, which can never be removed; and is now completely wrought out by Christ, and is applied by his Spirit to the heirs of it, who shall certainly and fully enjoy it; otherwise the glory of all the three Persons in it would be lost: but the joy of it may be interrupted and discontinued for a while, through falls into sin, as this case of David, and the case of Peter, show; and therefore a restoration of it is desired, by showing a fresh interest in this salvation; and particularly by an application of pardoning grace and mercy; see Psalm 35:3;

and uphold me with thy free Spirit: or "let thy free Spirit uphold me" (n); the same with the Holy Spirit of God; called "free", because he is a most free and munificent giver: he gives his grace, and bestows his gifts severally, as he pleases, and liberally, and upbraids not; and because he is freely given of God; his graces are freely given, as faith, hope, love, &c. and because he frees them to whom he is given from the bondage of sin and corruption, and makes them Christ's free men, and delivers them into the liberty of the children of God; and so is a spirit of adoption, in opposition to a spirit of bondage, by which they have freedom and boldness to call God their Father; and by whom also they have liberty of soul at the throne of grace, and can freely make known their requests, and spread their cases before God; see Romans 8:15; also he may be so called, because he makes the saints ready and willing to obey the will of God, and to run with cheerfulness the way of his commandments; and is moreover "a princely spirit" (o), or beneficent, as some choose to render the words; and which becomes such who are set among princes, and are made kings and priests unto God: and with this spirit the psalmist desires to be "upheld", to be strengthened by it, to do the will and work of God, that so he might not stumble and fall into sin as he had done; that he might be stayed, supported, and comforted with it, as the Holy Spirit of promise; that so he might not faint and sink under his present sense of sin, and the guilt of it; and that he would be not only a guide unto him in the ways of God, but that he would hold up his goings in them, that so he might walk both at liberty and in safety. The Targum interprets this also of the spirit of prophecy.

(n) So Vatablus, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Schmidt. (o) , Sept. "spiritu principali", V. L. Tigurine version; "munifico", so some in Vatablus.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy {k} free spirit.

(k) Which may assure me that I am drawn out of the slavery of sin.

12. Restore &c.] For sin has destroyed that assurance of God’s help which is ever a ground of rejoicing (Psalm 9:14; Psalm 13:5; Psalm 20:5; Psalm 35:9). He prays for that deliverance which he is confident (Psalm 51:8) that God can and will grant him.

with thy free spirit] Rather, with a free, or, willing spirit. Cp. Exodus 35:5; Exodus 35:22; and the cognate word in Psalm 54:6, ‘a freewill offering.’ He desires to be upheld from falling by such a divine inspiration as will move him spontaneously to think and do such things as are right. His first impulse will be to shew forth his thankfulness in acts (Psalm 51:13).Verse 12. - Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation. Give me back that "joy" which was mine when I was conscious of thy favour, and felt that thou wert my Strength and my Salvation (Psalm 18:1; Psalm 62:2, etc.). And uphold me with thy free spirit. There is no "thy" in the original; and it is his own spirit, not God's Spirit, of which the psalmist here speaks. "Uphold me," he says, "preserve me from falling, by giving me a 'free,' or 'generous,' or 'noble' spirit - the opposite of that 'spirit of bondage' which the apostle says that Christians do not receive" (Romans 8:15). David here confesses his hereditary sin as the root of his actual sin. The declaration moves backwards from his birth to conception, it consequently penetrates even to the most remote point of life's beginning. חוללתּי stands instead of נולדתּי, perhaps (although elsewhere, i.e., in Psalm 90:2, the idea of painfulness is kept entirely in the background) with reference to the decree, "with pain shalt thou bring forth children," Genesis 3:16 (Kurtz); instead of הרתה אתי, with still more definite reference to that which precedes conception, the expression is יחמתני (for יחמתני, following the same interchange of vowel as in Genesis 30:39; Judges 5:28). The choice of the verb decides the question whether by עון and חטא is meant the guilt and sin of the child or of the parents. יחם (to burn with desire) has reference to that, in coition, which partakes of the animal, and may well awaken modest sensibilities in man, without עיון and חטא on that account characterizing birth and conception itself as sin; the meaning is merely, that his parents were sinful human begins, and that this sinful state (habitus) has operated upon his birth and even his conception, and from this point has passed over to him. What is thereby expressed is not so much any self-exculpation, as on the contrary a self-accusation which glances back to the ultimate ground of natural corruption. He is sinful מלּדה וּמהריון (Psalm 58:4; Genesis 8:21), is טמא מטּמא, an unclean one springing from an unclean (Job 14:4), flesh born of flesh. That man from his first beginning onwards, and that this beginning itself, is stained with sin; that the proneness to sin with its guilt and its corruption is propagated from parents to their children; and that consequently in the single actual sin the sin-pervaded nature of man, inasmuch as he allows himself to be determined by it and himself resolves in accordance with it, become outwardly manifest-therefore the fact of hereditary sin is here more distinctly expressed than in any other passage in the Old Testament, since the Old Testament conception, according to its special character, which always fastens upon the phenomenal, outward side rather than penetrates to the secret roots of a matter, is directed almost entirely to the outward manifestation only of sin, and leaves its natural foundation, its issue in relation to primeval history, and its demonic background undisclosed. The הן in Psalm 51:7 is followed by a correlative second הן in Psalm 51:8 (cf. Isaiah 55:4., Isaiah 54:15.). Geier correctly says: Orat ut sibi in peccatis concepto veraque cordis probitate carenti penitiorem ac mysticam largiri velit sapientiam, cujus medio liberetur a peccati tum reatu tum dominio. אמת is the nature and life of man as conformed to the nature and will of God (cf. ἀλήθεια, Ephesians 4:21). חכמה, wisdom which is most intimately acquainted with (eindringlich weiss) such nature and life and the way to attain it. God delights in and desires truth בטּחות. The Beth of this word is not a radical letter here as it is in Job 12:6, but the preposition. The reins utpote adipe obducti, here and in Job 38:36, according to the Targum, Jerome, and Parchon, are called טחות (Psychol. S. 269; tr. p. 317). Truth in the reins (cf. Psalm 40:9, God's law in visceribus meis) is an upright nature in man's deepest inward parts; and in fact, since the reins are accounted as the seat of the tenderest feelings, in man's inmost experience and perception, in his most secret life both of conscience and of mind (Psalm 16:7). In the parallel member סתם denotes the hidden inward part of man. Out of the confession, that according to the will of God truth ought to dwell and rule in man even in his reins, comes the wish, that God would impart to him (i.e., teach him and make his own), - who, as being born and conceived in sin, is commended to God's mercy, - that wisdom in the hidden part of his mind which is the way to such truth.
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