The Joy of our Hearts: God’s Word (Inexpressible Joy #4)

The Joy of our Hearts: God’s Word (Inexpressible Joy #4)

The lies of the world around us are yet another thing which inhibits our sense of joy. Indeed, you don’t have to look too far to see falsehoods, untruths and alterative facts. It seems as if all these things reign supreme in our world. Each of these things are opposed to the truth contained within the Word of God and conspire to rob us of the joy of our hearts.

It is perhaps no surprise therefore, that Joy is frequently associated with the Word of God. Take for example the following verse in which Jeremiah testifies about his love for God’s Word:

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.

Jeremiah 15:16

Jeremiah really doesn’t hold back in this verse and describes God’s Word’s as his joy and his heart’s delight. Elsewhere in Jeremiah we find the Word of God described as a fire and a hammer that breaks rocks into pieces.

Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

28 Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?’ declares the Lord. 29 ‘Is not my word like fire,’ declares the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

Jeremiah 20:8-9, 23:28-29
Photo by Meggyn Pomerleau on Unsplash

We are going to wrestle with this idea of how the Word of God can be the joy of our hearts. For this we travel to a section of Psalm 19 which speaks at length about God’s Word.

David spends the first 6 verses praising the God who has revealed Himself in creation. Then in v7 he shifts his focus to the God who reveals Himself in His Word. In these verses David uses a variety of expressions to refer to God’s Word such as law, testimony, statutes, commandment, fear and judgments. It seems that these are poetic terms describing God’s revelation in general, rather than just referring to one specific type of revelation. God’s Word is therefore described as perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, firm, precious and sweet.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from wilful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:7-14

David describes God’s Word as righteous and everlasting. He also describes what God’s Word does in us – it makes wise the simple (v7), gives joy to the heart (v8), gives light to the eyes (v8), and it helps us know our faults (v11-13). Bearing all that in mind, it should be little surprise to us that God’s Word gives joy to the heart.

The phrase that particularly stands out here is v10 in which David describes God’s decrees as more precious than gold and sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. God’s Word means everything to David. To what extent we could say the same? How often do we find ourselves delving into the treasure troves of Scripture? Is it our first thought or an after-thought?

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Secondly, we turn to the incredible Psalm 119 which is the longest recorded psalm in the Bible. The author of the psalm is unnamed, but many believe it to be David. The psalms clear theme is the greatness and the glory of the Word of God.

On fifteen occasions in this Psalm the psalmist speaks of his heart. On four occasions the psalmist speaks of rejoicing. On nine occasions the psalmist speaks of his delight. The thrust of this word delight is emphatic – it carries the idea of jumping for joy. He even says categorically that God’s statutes are the joy of his heart (v111). Below are all the references to his delight in the NIV:

16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counsellors.

35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.

46 I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, 47 for I delight in your commands because I love them.

69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart. 70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.

77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.

92 If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

143 Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight. 144 Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live.

174 I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight. 175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.

Psalm 119:16,24,35, 46-47, 69-70, 77, 92, 143-144, 174-175

In each of these verses the psalmist speaks of how he delights in God’s law, commands, statutes and decrees. This delighting is ultimately in God and His Word is the means through which he finds this delight. What you also notice is that there are connections between delighting in God’s Word and salvation, troubles, affliction, compassion, guidance, opposition.

It is clear that God’s Word plays a central role in helping the psalmist to not merely survive, but to thrive. The world has a lot to say, but if we are to combat its lies we need to firmly put God’s Word in place as the joy of our hearts. What things do we delight in? To what extent do we delight in God’s Word and allow it to shape our lives.

Photo by John Price on Unsplash

Thirdly, I want us to see that as we experience Scripture it should lead us into worship. Throughout God’s Salvation story, His plan has been centred around creating a community of authentic worshippers. But what kind of worshippers does the Father seek? Jesus this question in John 4:23-24:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

John 4:23-24

These are true fascinating verses. In the Old Testament God gave Israel His Word through the Law and His presence through the Tabernacle or Temple. To worship God was to respond to His Word and to know God’s presence. But now Jesus has come as the Word become flesh and the one who gives us the Holy Spirit. So, the coming of Jesus transforms worship & lifts it to new heights! The words of the law have given way to the words of the gospel to which we respond with joyful faith and obedience. We no longer have to go to the temple, approaching God’s presence through sacrifices and always kept at a distance by the curtain which separated the Holy of Holies. No, we come to Jesus, who on the cross has offered the perfect sacrifice for sin once and for all, so that the curtain in the temple has been torn open. We are invited to come into the very presence of God as he pours out His Spirit upon us.

The heart and richness of true Christian worship is that we worship in Spirit & Truth. It is a worship that engages our minds with God’s truth and fires out hearts with the reality of His presence by the Holy Spirit and shapes not just our singing, but the response of our whole lives to God. The Father seeks worshippers such as these.

In conclusion, let me say that if God’s Word is to be our our source of joy then we too must learn to treasure it, rejoice in it and delight in it. We must approach God not so much as a student, but as a worshipper. If we are to deflect the lies coming at us from all directions we need to be firmly rooted in all that God has to say to us in His Word. Over the coming weeks can I encourage you to be mindful of what you believe about yourself, what you believe about the world and what you believe about what is truly valuable. Try to look increasingly to the things that God has to say to us in His Word and allow that to be the joy of your hearts.

See other posts in this series: 

  1. No Greater Joy
  2. The Joy of your Salvation: Living in Grace
  3. Consider it Pure Joy: Tough Times
  4. The Joy of our Hearts: God’s Word
  5. Overflowing Joy: Contentment
  6. Everlasting Joy: New Creation

Cover Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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