Shepherd to hero, fugitive to king, greatly loved but also greatly disciplined, at peace and at war; this was the life of King David. It always amazes me to look at David’s life, marvel at the stressors he must have experienced, and yet see the joy and hope he maintained in God. Alongside David, Paul in the New Testament described a rejoicing that transcended any circumstance and emotion. At times, both these men were sad, grieved and worried, yet joy remained in them. The oxymoron of sorrowful rejoicing stood testimony beside their celebratory joys. David, through his psalms, conveys the complexity of the human heart and how it can remain joyful despite all of life’s struggles. Paul describes the purpose and origin of joy in these situations
The Bible mentions joy in relation to a number of godly characteristics. In his letters to the church, Paul summarises a number of joy’s attributes that we also see in David’s psalms.
[Romans 5:1-5] – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, by we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Joy in salvation, joy in tribulation, and joy in God’s love. With this, there is no situation, circumstance or person who can extinguish our joy.
1. JOY IN SALVATION
[Psalm 51:12] -” Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
[Romans 5:2] – “[Jesus Christ]… through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
Both David and Paul recognise that there is joy in salvation. This joy is not only from salvation itself, but from the hope that is in salvation. Once we accept Jesus into our lives, we are saved, cleansed to live daily in the presence of God. However, we are still eagerly awaiting Christ’s return; the day when we receive our resurrected bodies, and the world is made completely free of sickness and sin. David lived before Jesus walked on earth, and Paul found Christ after Jesus had departed from the earth. Yet, both men believed in salvation through Christ and held on to this hope. This hope is what gave them joy through all things since, no matter what happened on earth, their lives were hidden with Christ. They looked forward expectantly to being in eternity with God and knew that the things of earth were temporal.
2. JOY IN TRIBULATION
[Psalm 5:11-12] – “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favour You will surround him as with a shield.”
[Romans 5:3-4] – “And not only that, by we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character, hope.”
Joy in tribulation teaches us to do two things. One – it teaches us to strengthen our faith. In tribulation, we can remember that God is in control, and we can choose to put our faith in Him. David’s psalms, though he cries out to God in anguish, also show his willingness to trust God. He starts declaring who God is – that God is his defender, God blesses the righteous, God surrounds him with favour as a shield, and God gives him joy. In any tribulation we face, whether a situation, interpersonal conflict or personal struggles, we can declare God’s deliverance over us just as David does. God is our defender, God is our shield, and God can make our troubled hearts shout for joy even in these times
Two – joy in tribulation teaches us to strengthen our character and persevere. Paul shows us what this sorrowful joy can do. In persevering, we remember hope which, as we know, gives joy. So, as we hope and persevere, we build character, and we hope, we have joy, we hope and we have joy. Joy is so much deeper when it perseveres through tribulation. Everyone can be glad when good things happen, but joy persists even in dark times. When we have experienced joy in tribulation, it strengthens our faith because we know God sees us through, and it strengthens our character to persevere through even tougher times.
2. JOY IN GOD’S LOVE
[Psalm 4:6-7] – “There are many who say,
‘Who will show us any good?’
Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.”
[Romans 5:5] – “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Ultimately, our joy comes from the love of the Father, from God’s love. He has put an overflowing gladness in our hearts and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. The Holy Spirit sustains our God given joy and it is better than anything the world offers.
In success, in sorrow, in any aspect of life, could we have joy?
Yes, I believe we can and we do through Christ.