The Psalms: the last installment
Distant songs of joy
- We can proclaim the satisfying pleasure we find in God through jubilant song and shouts of victory, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and horns, with dancing. Not only that, but the rivers will clap and the mountains will sing because God has done marvelous things like revealing and clothing us with his salvation. God’s right hand has done mighty things! (Psalm 98, 107, 132, 118, 149)
- God’s law is our joy (119:111)
“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”
- To be liberated from slavery is joy and the cause of it, which God has given us and why we sing songs of joy to him. (105, 126:2)
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
- In times of sorrow, songs of joy are distant, but we yearn to sing them once again. (Psalm 137)
“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How can we sing songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? If I forget you Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.”
I wish I sang songs of joy more often for the salvation God has given me, for the freedom he has liberated me to in Christ. I wish I was so moved that I might praise God with dancing and instrument, with laughter and joy. There are times when I forget that I have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord and that he is ever with me!
But I can imagine the sorrow the nation of Israel felt in exile, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land,” they said as they hung up their harps.
Unit next time…