In my last post, I began to look into Bible verses that contain my 2021 theme word: JOYFUL.
Some of the verses that we will read today are surprising.
Why should we—or things—be joyful? Let’s see what the Bible says.
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance (Psalm 89:15). This is an interesting voice. Jesus said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27). Is Jesus’ voice the joyful sound? I’m not sure, but I love the next part of the verse: walking in the light of God’s face. We know that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5b). He promises to light our path with His Word, step by step. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105). Then, our way will shine as light—a reflection of Christ. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). Are we living, illumined with the light of God’s face? Do we follow His Word? Is our life a shining reflection of the Lord?
Come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms (Psalm 95:1-2). Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together (Psalm 98:4, 6, 8). Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands (Psalm 100:1). These all go together because they are about showing praise directly to the Lord by singing and making a joyful noise. (Scroll down to the last post for more on this subject.)
Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice (Psalm 96:12). Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted (Isaiah 49:13). I often try to imagine what the field, trees, heavens, earth, and mountains do to sing and show joy. Astronomers testify to the tones they hear in the sky. Are these sounds stars singing? How do mountains sing? What does a joyful field look like? Rejoicing woods? My imagination goes wild.
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD (Psalm 113:9). God blesses His people in many ways. I have known of several women who were told by doctors they would never have children—and later, God blessed them with babies. This verse means that sometimes, the Lord acts in this way. It is not a blanket statement meaning that God wants everyone to marry—He doesn’t—or that every married couple will have children. That’s just not true. (God is fine with both married and single people. See 1 Corinthians 7:32-34.)
Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds (Psalm 149:2, 5). This is interesting. It reiterates the concept of people being joyful in the Lord, calling Him King. Obviously, this is a prophecy about Jesus. Then, it says to let real believers be joyful in glory. I had to look this up. Glory refers to recognizing God’s glory. The next idea—singing in bed—brings up a host of hilarious scenarios, but Matthew Henry seems to think it means that people should praise the Lord in private as well as in public (Matthew Henry Commentary on Psalm 149). If you really want to take this literally, go ahead and sing hymns in bed. It’s biblical!
In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him (Ecclesiastes 7:14). As always, the Word of God is full of practical, balanced advice. Yes, be happy when things go well, but also understand that God is there in adverse circumstances.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10). This is perhaps my favorite verse of all. If a Christian can’t be joyful in his soul because of salvation, he needs to go back and recapture the joy. What has God done for us? Provided us with His own robe of righteousness. It is beautiful. We could never have paid for it. It is a gift. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5). If this isn’t a motive for joyfulness, I don’t know what is.
It’s interesting that the last Bible reference to joyful is in the context of persecution. Even though the early church was going through opposition on many fronts, Paul was encouraged by the believers and joyful along with them. Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation (2 Corinthians 7:4).
Whatever happens in 2021—and I sincerely hope it is better than 2020 for all of us—we can be joyful in Jesus, joyful in spite of tribulation, joyful in our beds, and joyful in our families. We can even draw inspiration from happy hills and trees. How cool is that?