I’d like you to think about what happens to you when you read the Bible. What words would you use to describe this experience, most of the time? Think about it for a few minutes and jot down your thoughts. I’ll wait right here while you do that 🙂
Did you write down your answer? Great!
Now let’s see how the writer of Psalm 119 describes his time in the Word.
“Your statutes . . . are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111). “I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil” (Psalm 119:162). “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches” (Psalm 119:14). The psalmist finds much joy in God’s word. He rejoices in the Word, and he rejoices in obeying the Word.
How about you? When you read and obey the Bible, do you experience joy in your heart? Does God give you joy because you spend time with him while meditating on his truth?
Finding joy in God is a prominent theme throughout Scripture, especially the Psalms. Have you ever done a word study on “joy”? After you finish this article, I urge you to get out your concordance or head over to BibleGateway.com and look up all the verses in that Psalms containing the words “joy”, “rejoice”, “rejoices”, and “rejoicing”. It will be time well spent, I assure you!
In Psalm 119, there is another word the writer uses often to describe his relationship to Scripture, a word that is similar to “joy” and “rejoice”. It is “delight”.
“I delight in your law” (Psalm 119:70) is a statement he makes three times (see v. 16 and v. 47). And “Your law is my delight” (Psalm 119:77) is an expression found six times (see v. 24, 35, 92, 143, and 174). (I also encourage you to do a word study on “delight” and “delights” in the Psalms.)
When was the last time you said, in reference to anything, “That was a delight!” or “That was a joy!” It might have been a delicious meal or a long walk or a sunny 72-degree day with low humidity. As I think about my life, I realize how often I am blessed with a joyful or delightful experience, yet I rarely use those particular words to tell others about it, including when I give thanks to God for it.
So I’m writing this to encourage us to expand our “praise vocabulary”. When God showers his grace upon us, which he does daily in 1,001 different ways, why not tell him and others, “Thank you, Jesus; that was so delightful and brought much joy to my heart!”
Reality check: when we spend time in the Word, if we rarely come away from the Book with much joy and delight, isn’t something amiss?
When you do that word study about “joy” and “delight” in the Psalms, note the frequency of phrases such as “rejoice in God” and “delight in God” (or phrases similar to that). For the Christian, we should find our ultimate joy and delight in God. Not in his gifts, but in him. The difference between the two is semantically subtle yet experientially huge.
And for the writer of Psalm 119, finding joy and delight in Scripture was synonymous with finding joy and delight in God. Throughout the psalm, he describes the Word with adjectives and phrases that are applicable to God – words like eternal and righteous and true and good.
The psalmist can say that the Word is his source of joy and delight (and life, strength, freedom, wisdom, light, peace, hope, and salvation) because God is the source of all these blessings, and the Word is the means by which God makes known the riches of his grace and the all-satisfying wonder of his presence.
For the Christian who knows the bliss of delighting in God, the relationship between the living Word and the written Word becomes intimately intertwined. And the result is a life of joy that exceeds all expectations and prepares us for eternity.