Psalm 51.8



1.   Turn in your Bible to Psalm 51.  We will not read this entire psalm of David, but I will make a few remarks about a single verse I will bring to your attention momentarily.

2.   This entire 51st Psalm is a familiar passage of scripture to many of you.  If it is not a familiar passage to you, you would do well to make it a familiar passage by frequent reading.

3.   The salvation of Jesus Christ is a great salvation.  More than that, it is the greatest salvation.  This evening, in the wake of Christmas and on the way to a New Year full of challenges and opportunities, I would lead you to reflect on this greatest salvation.

4.   Drop your eyes down to Psalm 51.8.  Read along with me out loud, and so make David’s prayer to God your own prayer to God.  “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.”

5.   This is a brief and poetic plea for the experience of the forgiveness of his sins and his deliverance from those sins.  From David’s perspective, and hopefully from your own perspective, note with me how this salvation is the greatest salvation.



1B.    You don’t hardly hear of professing Christians these days who experienced misery for their sins before their supposed conversion.  But you do find such misery in the experience of sinners in the Bible, and you do find such misery in the experience of sinners in the days of the Reformers and the Puritans, and you do find such misery in the experience of sinners during days of genuine revival.

2B.    “. . . that the bones which thou hast broken . . . .”  “. . . the original word (tykd), signifies more than broken, namely, being entirely mashed . . . .”[1]  You understand that David is not speaking of a literal crushing of his bones here, but of the severity and the suffering associated with his conviction of sins.

3B.    A person who wants a great salvation must first know the great misery of sin, the great conviction of the Spirit of God, the great remorse associated with the great wrong of his transgressions.  Likewise, to know the greatest salvation requires first the greatest misery.

4B.    This was the experience of Jacob, and of Daniel, and of Saul of Tarsus, and of Simon Peter, and of the Philippian jailor, and of Augustine, and of Martin Luther, and of the Wesleys and Whitefield and Spurgeon.  And it was the experience of David.

5B.    You might think to yourself, “I never seem to get that worked up about my sins.”  In that case, I would suggest that you read and reread the sermon by Jonathan Edwards, “Persons Ought to Endeavor to Be Convinced of Sin,” a sermon from Jeremiah 2.23.[2]



1B.    David did not speak, here, of simply feeling good about himself again.  There are many who come under some brief discomfort of sin and desire only to feel good again, or desire to once again feel good about themselves after the balloon of their self-esteem has been pricked.

2B.    Such was not the case with David, and such is not the kind of salvation that is spoken of in the Bible.  Rather than feeling good about yourself once more, the greatest deliverance is from sin guiltiness, not from depression or discouragement.  Psalm 51.2 reads, “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”  Verse 7 reads, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

3B.    There are two Hebrew words that are used to denote washing and cleansing, with quite different and distinct senses.  One word means to clean superficially, to wash the surface, such as cleaning off a table or washing the hands.  But there is another word that is used to refer to washing thoroughly, to cleaning beneath the surface, to cleansing through and through.[3]

4B.    The latter sense is what David refers to in verse 2.  So, David’s concern is not only for ceremonial cleansing that would qualify him for worship with God’s people.  He was more concerned with the inner cleansing that would stand him in good stead with God.  This is clearly seen by the number of times in this psalm that David cries out “O God” or “O Lord.”  It is also seen by his statement in verse 4:  “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.”

5B.    So, when you consider how desperate the sinner’s situation is, and when you reflect on the great gulf that separates between God and the sinner because of his sins, deliverance from sins is then seen to be a great deliverance, indeed.  Truly, it is the greatest deliverance because there is no deliverance that is greater than the deliverance from sins and the reconciling of a sinner God.

6B.    How sad it is, then, that so many these days settle for a deliverance from merely feeling badly, or settle for a deliverance from a low self-esteem, when the greatest deliverance, the deliverance from sins, is available.



Look at verse 8 again, if you please:  “Make me to hear joy and gladness . . . .”

This greatest salvation, that comes on the heels of the greatest misery, because it is the greatest deliverance, produces the greatest joy.  Why so?

1B.    First, because of its Source.  The source of our deliverance from sins is God, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, Whose birthday we celebrated yesterday.  Listen, as I read:

1C.   It is in Jonah 2.9 that we read the prophet’s declaration, “Salvation is of the LORD.”

2C.   It is in John 1.13 that we read the apostle’s declaration, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

3C.   Listen, also, to what old Simeon said when he saw and then held the Christ child in his arms so long ago:  “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”[4]

4C.   So, Jesus Christ is God’s salvation.  But what else does the Bible say about the Lord Jesus Christ and this great salvation which He gives? 

5C.   Titus 2.13:  “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”  Jesus is both the savior and our great God.

6C.   Deuteronomy 10.17:  “For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.”

2B.    I could go on and on about the Lord Jesus Christ the great Source of our salvation, but there is another aspect of our greatest salvation; it produces the greatest joy.

1C.   I used to be shy.  But I now have very little patience for shyness as a barrier to communicating.  I was so shy I went through engineering school almost invisibly and virtually anonymously.  And I learned recently that such a towering figure as Winston Churchill was so shy and backward that when he delivered his first speech in Parliament he fainted.

2C.   I say that to observe what our greatest salvation ought to produce in the lives of those who have experienced it.  David pleaded, “Make me to hear joy and gladness.”  He wanted such a deliverance from sins that you could hear it.

3C.   That is, he wanted to be so filled with gratitude, so overwhelmed with delight, so filled with the fullness of satisfaction and exultation, that it produced rejoicing from his lips and praise from his tongue.

4C.   “Oh, but I am not that way.”  I know.  “I just don’t do that kind of stuff.”  I am aware of that.  And if you claim to be a recipient of this greatest salvation you ought to be ashamed of such quietness.  You ought to feel convicted over such reluctance to sing praises and utter testimonies of gratitude.

5C.   “You’re just trying to make me feel guilty for not being as loud as you are.”  No, I am trying to show you that David thought salvation was so stupendous a gift from God, so glorious a proposition, that he pleaded with God to enable him to be very vocal about it.  I am vocal about it, yet I used to be very shy.  Thus, any Christian ought to be able to rejoice and be glad about his salvation.



1.   My friends, I have been a Christian for approaching 31 years.  The circumstances of my conversion are such that almost no one who knows me now knew me then.  And those who knew me then are nowhere close to where I am now.

2.   So, you are somewhat reluctant to believe that I am so different a person now than I was then.  But I am different.  And I think my difference is not unusual.  I think it is usual.  I think it is God.

3.   We have the greatest salvation.  Our misery was great, that terrible conviction of sin we had leading to conversion.  Our deliverance was great, saved from all our sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  And our joy is great.  As a matter of fact, it is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

4.   Who would not want this greatest salvation?  Who would not want this greatest of Saviors?

[1] Samuel Chandler, quoted in Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury Of David, Volume I, (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers), page 417.

[2] Available from International Outreach, Inc., Ames, Iowa (515) 292-9594

[3] See comments of Richard Mant, quoted in Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury Of David, Volume I, (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers), page 416.

[4] Luke 2.29-32

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