This post is part of my book launch, God’s Triumphant Mercy: A Reflection of Psalm 51
. . . and uphold me with a willing spirit.
It was A.W. Pink who used the illustration of a book in the palm of our hand. What would happen when we remove our hand? The undeniable law of gravity would prevail—the book would fall to the ground.
The same is true with God keeping us. Was it not for His power, we would certainly fall away from Him: “Who by God’s power are being guarded [kept] through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Throughout the Bible, we see that “the LORD is your keeper” (Ps. 121:5). He’s the One who upholds us.
In addition to asking God to restore his joy, David also asked to uphold him “with a willing spirit.” In one of his other penitential psalms, he wrote: “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you” (Ps. 32:9). Within our fallen nature, there’s a deep-rooted stubbornness that wants to go its own way. It rejects sound advice and wanders off into danger.
Left to ourselves, we’re “prone to wander” and “leave the God I love.” We need God to take our heart “and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above” (from Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing). Indeed, “When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up” (Ps. 94:18).
David realized that he would be able to sin in like manner. If it happened once, why could it not happen again? He needed God to keep him with “a willing spirit”—a spirit that gladly stays close to Him. The same is true for us!
We’re capable of all manner of sin, most of which we’re unaware of. We need God’s power to keep us. His strength is a vital part of our perseverance: “That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph. 3:16).
The good news is that He’s able and willing to do so. Actually, His glory is related to keeping His people: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25). He is our only hope!
Heavenly Father, uphold me with a willing spirit.
The Devotional Writer
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