In Psalm 9 David cries out to God for justice to prevail – for the guilty to be punished and the righteous to be vindicated. And for good reason: we know what a difficult life he lived, especially in his younger years when he was on the run for his life, the innocent victim of King Saul’s violent outbursts.
We know that one day the justice of God will triumph. That will happen when King Jesus, the greater David, returns to establish His kingdom.
But in the meantime, while we wait, we can do what David did. Regardless of his circumstances, he was able to make these four declarations: “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2).
I’d like to focus on the third statement, “I will be glad and rejoice in you,” because when the Bible talks about joy, the most common type of joy is simply “joy in God.” Over and over the psalmists write of their desire to “rejoice in the LORD” (Psalm 32:11; see also Psalm 5:11, 33:21, 35:9, 40:16, 63:11, 64:10, 66:6, 70:4, 85:6).
What does it mean to “rejoice in the LORD”? Joy in God is the intense, celebratory feelings of gladness, delight, pleasure and satisfaction that come from God Himself as we focus on His glorious character and His mighty deeds of salvation performed on our behalf. Furthermore, biblical joy is the blissful wonder and awe we experience when we are consciously aware of His presence. For the Christian, joy in God is available at all times, in any situation. By definition, joy in Him can be found regardless of our circumstances. As Paul wrote, we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). This is the joy that David experienced while living as a fugitive, the victim of unjust persecution.
Now let’s turn our attention to the question: “What can I do to increase my biblical joy in God?” Our emotions can be all over the map on any given day, right? And when we talk about biblical joy, we’re not saying that God expects us to be in a state of giddiness 24/7. Life is filled with heartache and disappointment, and Christians have just as much sadness as non-Christians. “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Jesus did not promise us a problem-free life. Rather, He promised us a life of difficulty. “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Again, David is Exhibit A in this regard.
But as 2 Corinthians 6:10 teaches, we can have biblical joy (that deep sense of satisfaction and contentment in God no matter what happens) in the midst of trials and sorrow because our joy is found in Him. How do we experience that kind of joy?
Here’s how David answers this question:
“The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes” (Psalm 19:8).“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111).
As already indicated, the psalms contain many verses describing God as the source of our joy. Then we read Psalm 19:8 and hear the psalmist saying that the Word is the source of my joy. Psalm 119:111 goes even further and teaches that the Word is my joy. Which is it? Is God my joy, or is the Word my joy?
The answer, of course, is both. God and His word are my source of joy. God and His Word are the joy of my heart. This is a teaching found throughout Scripture: God and His Word are described interchangeably.
My Christian friend, do you see how the psalms provide a clear answer to the question, “How do I increase my joy in God?” To increase our joy in the Lord, we simply need to spend more quality time in the Word.
So I challenge you today to take a close look at your life and how you spend your time. Do you regularly, yes daily, drink deeply from the fountains of delight found in the pages of holy Scripture? If not, could that be the main reason you lack the kind of joy in God that David had?
Why not examine yourself to see if this be true?