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Psalms Of Gladness

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In a prayer psalm attributed to David, the psalmist opens his request with a plea for God’s help (Ps. 5:1-2; cf. vv. 7-8)

Give ear to my words, O LORD,
consider my sighing.

Listen to my cry for help
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.1

While asking for God’s help, he contrasts God’s graciousness (e.g., vv. 3-5) with the infidelity of evil people (e.g., vv.9-10), So it is that he can close his psalm with a happy life the righteous person may expect (vv. 11-12).  Another psalmist praises the Lord and rejoices in him:

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. (Ps. 9:1-2; cf. 16:9)

Still another psalmist asks God for his intervention in the midst of Israel’s difficulties and pleads with God:

Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
For as many years as we have seen trouble. (Ps. 90:13-15)

By way of application Futato remarks, “The pain and trouble of this life can be ever so frustrating, but God is able to replace our frustrations with satisfaction”.2

In Psalm 67, the psalmist begins by praising God (vv. 1-2) and then urges that all people everywhere will praise the Lord. In so doing he says prayerfully:

May the people praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth. (vv. 3-4)

Indeed, granted their doing so, they may find that God’s many blessings will follow:

Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.

God will bless us,
all the ends of the earth will fear him. (vv. 6-7)

Applying this passage to today’s Christians, Van Gemeren remarks “Our joy is now full in Jesus Christ. We have reason to sing for joy, as our heavenly Father blesses us by providing for our needs. (Mt. 6:25-34)3 Accordingly, all believers may not only be glad but can sing for joy:

But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful (Ps. 68:3)

As the author of Proverbs remarks,

A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit. (Pr. 15:13)

In a traditional poetic piece, attributed to David as the author (a psalm which has experienced various critical views (Ps. 70)), the psalmist pleads for God’s help (vv. 1-3, 5; cf. Ps. 40:13-17). In so doing he petitions the Lord:

But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;

May those who love your salvation always say,
“Let God be exalted!” (v.4)

While the psalmist probably had his own difficulties, he none the less was concerned that all who put their faith in God would not only experience God’s assistance, but be able to rejoice in the Lord and be glad in His saving intercession. David’s request may also be felt in today’s believers, so that rather than having a hostile attitude toward others, they may be concerned not only for their own correction and deliverance from trouble, but have a concern for all people.

A similar sentiment is found in Psalm 96:8-9:

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.

Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.

Even all nature may rejoice and sing:

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it;

Let the fields be jubilant and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy. (vv.11-12)

If all nature can experience God’s blessing, then certainly God’s people can do so. Indeed, several psalms express a similar thought, for example:

I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
For you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul. (Ps. 31:7; cf. 32:11)

All that we have examined certainly provides suitable examples for today’s believers as well. May we be challenged by God’s word which reminds us:

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful psalms. (Ps. 100:1-2)

May such be our daily experience:

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps.118:24)

Yes, as the old proverb declares “A righteous one can sing and be glad” (Pr. 29:6b).

The above discussion may well be felt in a familiar hymn:

Be strong in the Lord and be of good courage;
Your mighty defender is always the same.
Mount up with wings as the eagle ascending;
Victory is sure when you call on his name.4


1 All scripture references are from the NIV.

2 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Il., Tyndale House, 2009), VII:294.

3 Willem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), V:513.

4 Linda Lee Johnson, “Be Strong in the Lord”.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Devotionals

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