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Psalms of Joy

Passages about joy can be found all throughout scripture, but the Psalms are a great place to look.  Because the Psalms were collected into a book to be used for prayer and song, it makes sense that they would have something to say about joy.  Some of the following references are the intimate writings of King David to his God, some are songs of ascent sung by the community as they walked up toward the temple, some cry out for joy while others seem to commemorate a particularly joyous event.  Their diversity makes the Psalms easy to apply to our own varied circumstances.

You may be counting down your days in quarantine or taking a couple of weeks to start a healthy habit; or maybe you're looking for some encouraging words to send a friend or to help you through a hard day.  Perhaps you just liked the photo or needed something to read in line at the market.  In any case, these passages on joy come with my prayers that the Holy Spirit would minister to you as you read them...allowing the living God to penetrate into the deep places of your heart and mind and soul...and that you would sense his love and comfort and peace surrounding you--as well as his joy!

Here are seven Psalms of Joy (check in next week for another seven!):

Psalm 5:11 speaks of joy in knowing and trusting God as our protector.  This Psalm is written by David, a warrior and king who knew real threats to himself and his people, yet he found joy in God's protection and prayed for that gladness to come to all who love God.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

In Psalm 16 David follows the same theme of God as our refuge, but in a much more personal appeal to God for his safety, security, and health.  I read this Psalm as a prayer over my daddy when he was in the hospital battling the cancer that ultimately took his life.  Though he did pass, I can still take comfort that he is in the presence of Jesus now where this prayer has been answered.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.  You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 21:1 is also from a Psalm of David.  Here he rejoices in victory and valor, crediting God with both, which is a strong reminder to us that we should acknowledge God in every good moment as well as crying out to him in our times of need.
The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.  How great is his joy in the victories you give!

Psalm 27:5-6 recounts yet another time David cried out to God in the midst of trouble, something he clearly did very often.  How good to know that we can call on God as often as we find ourselves in trouble and that we, too, can rejoice and worship God for his faithfulness to meet us again and again.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.  Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.

While Psalm 30:4-5 commemorates the dedication of the temple, I have often taken comfort in these lines about God's faithfulness, forgiveness, and favor.  Having spent many nights in tears over one thing or another, the promise of joy coming in the morning is a great relief as well.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.  For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 32 details the anguish of David over un-confessed sin, and the relief that comes when he is honest with God because of God's generous forgiveness.  Sometimes what keeps us from experiencing joy is our own stubbornness as we try to hide from God those things that we are embarrassed to admit.  Free from condemnation, David ends the Psalm bursting with joy.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Psalm 42 is very poetic; a beautiful picture of longing for the companionship and love of God.  It is an intimate look at the satisfaction of being in the presence of God and the agony of feeling distant from him.  Once we have experienced rich moments of God's presence, we are forever changed and can join this Psalmist in positive self-talk.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Again, check back next week for seven more Psalms of JOY!

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