In II Samuel 12:10-14, the prophet Nathan rebukes David for his sin(s) against Bathsheba and/or Uriah, and lays out God's punishment to David, that "the sword will never depart from your house". And that seems to be what happened. But in Psalm 51:12, David asks God to

"restore unto me the joy of thy salvation".

Now, if God's prophet told me that the sword would never depart from MY house, I would take that to mean "forget about joy for the rest of your life". Do we see any subsequent evidence that God restored any joy to David?

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There are two matters here that should not be confused in reading Ps 51:12:

  • David's "joy of God's salvation", ie, the assurance of personal salvation under the covenant promises
  • David's punishment, or more accurately, the disastrous consequences of David's actions which are clearly laid out - David would loose four of his sons to death by unnatural causes: (1) the son born to Bathsheba, 2 Sam 12:18; (2) Amnon the heir to the throne, 2 Sam 13; (3) Absalom the next heir to the throne, 2 Sam 18:14, 15; (4) Adonijah the next heir to the throne, 1 Kings 2:23-25.

However, there is good evidence that David enjoyed the joy of God's salvation as explicitly recorded in his Psalm of praise to God at the end of his life, 2 Sam 22 and 2 Sam 23:1-7 (see below)

APPENDIX - 2 Sam 23:1-7 (for completeness only). See also 2 Sam 22.

These are the last words of David:

“The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man raised on high, the one anointed by the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel:

2 The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.

3 The God of Israel spoke; the Rock of Israel said to me, ‘He who rules the people with justice, who rules in the fear of God,

4 is like the light of the morning at sunrise of a cloudless dawn, the glistening after the rain on the sprouting grass of the earth.’

5 Is not my house right with God? For He has established with me an everlasting covenant, ordered and secured in every part. Will He not bring about my full salvation and my every desire?

6 But the worthless are all like thorns raked aside, for they can never be gathered by hand.

7 The man who touches them must be armed with iron or with the shaft of a spear. The fire burns them to ashes in the place where they lie.”


The whole of Psalm 51 was written after Nathan had rebuked David. It must have been written shortly after, given what is stated, and David is thinking of the need for repentance, to accept God's judgment and punishment of him, and to maintain faith in God's continued goodness despite David deserving God's wrath. Indeed, when Nathan said to David, "You are the man!", David knew he had just declared that "the man" deserved death for what he'd done.

This means that despite God saying the sword would never depart from David's household, David himself would not be put to death. Instead, he would live to see the bitter fruits of his sin. Not only would some of his sons be killed later on, his own wives would be taken from him and raped. This bit of Nathan's response is significant in the way it mentions "sword" and adultery:

"Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own. This is what the Lord says, 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel'." 2 Samuel 12:7-12 N.I.V. 1987 ed.

David would be thinking of all of that as he penned Psalm 51. That is why this Psalm is an object-lesson in God's covenant people truly repenting, in truly agreeing with God's judgment as right, in truly holding on to the fact of God's salvation despite external calamities given as chastisement.

He kept faith in the fact that God does not despise the 'sacrifice' of a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart (verse 17). He kept faith in "the God who saves me", speaking in faith of his determination to sing in praise of God's righteousness, despite knowing the litany of punishments he was to endure (verses 14-15).

Although (as Nathan had prophesied, 2 Samuel 12:14) the baby about to be born to Bathsheeba would die, verses 24-25 show that after it had died, David comforted his wife, the result being the birth of their son Solomon. We are expressly told that the Lord loved this son, right from the start, and we learn later how God blessed Solomon when the kingship passed to him, by granting him exceptional wisdom and judgment, in order to rule Israel wisely. David died an old man, knowing that Solomon would build to the Lord a temple in Jerusalem that he had prepared for. The kingdom given to David continued, through Solomon, as God had promised. This was proof positive that David's salvation had not been taken away from him, God had not cast him away from his presence, nor had the Holy Spirit been taken from David. Therefore the joy of that salvation was, indeed, restored to him as he had pleaded for, in Psalm 51:10-12. Then, indeed, did David go on to teach sinners to turn to God, as the rest of his Psalms clearly show (verses 13-15).

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