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Psalms Of Rejoicing

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Having written earlier this year concerning a certain psalmist’s call to rejoice,1 we now turn our attention to examining certain psalms that speak of doing so. We begin with the second psalm. Although this psalm is directed at royalty, it has other applications as well. Of particular interest is the fact that it is of particular messianic stimulation and forms the first of three primarily Messianic Psalms (note vv. 1-2; cf. Acts 4:25-26; Matt. 3:17; Acts 13:3; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; 7:28; 2 Pet. 1:17). Our primary focus in this study is on verse 11: “Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.” Although addressed primarily to kings, the need to “serve the Lord” and rejoice in him remains true and a standard for all people, especially believers. This is especially the case when the believer realizes that he can truly do so, for God is his protector (Ps. 5:11).

Indeed there are many texts that remind us that as believers we have been told and repeatedly shown how rejoicing in the Lord is called for. Thus the ninth Psalm begins:

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. (vv.1-2)2

This is especially true for believers:

Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteousness;
Sing all you who are upright in heart! (Ps. 32:11; cf. Ps. 68:3)

As another psalmist points out, this is only natural, for God is our ultimate hope:

We wait in hope for the LORD;
He is our help and shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
For we trust in his holy name (Ps.33:20-21)

As David comments in Psalm 40,

May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you
May those who love your salvation always say,
The LORD be exalted! (v. 16)

Similarly, in another psalm after once again pleading for God’s help (Ps. 70:1), he subsequently comments:

May all who say to me, “Aha: Aha:”
Turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you
Rejoice and be glad in you. (Ps. 70:4)

David’s petition underscores the reality that ultimately the true source of man’s help is the Lord. Believers should therefore live in such a way that they enjoy God’s fellowship, and look to him for help and leadership in their lives. Two other Psalms also express this:

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

Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous
And praise his holy name (Ps. 97:12).

Such will lead to a life of genuine contentment.

May we, then, follow this advice and sing with the psalmist:

Oh my strength, I sing praise to you;
You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God (Ps.59:17).

Regardless of the circumstances, may our very minds and souls follow the suggestions of another psalmist who, in preparing to speak of God’s righteous leadership and accomplishments says:

Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
Seek his face always (Ps. 105:3b-4).

Then, rest assured God will enable us to declare each day:

The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.

…….

This is the day the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it (Ps. 118:14, 24).

May we be those who follow the Lord’s direction and can proclaim:

Your statutes are my delight,
They are my counselors. (Ps. 119:24)

As Van Gemeren remarks, “In difficulty and distress, the Lord and his word are a comfort to the godly.”3 In so doing we will long to fellowship with God’s fellow servants. Thus David could rejoice with those who said, “Let us go to the house of the LORD” (Ps. 122:1b). As the hymn writer writes:

Rejoice, ye pure in heart,
rejoice give thanks and sing;
Your festal banner wave on high,
the cross of Christ your King.
Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice, Give thanks and sing!4

© Copyright 2018.


1 Richard D. Patterson, “A Psalmist’s Call for Rejoicing,” Biblical Studies Press,2018.

2 All scriptural citations are taken from the NIV.

3 William A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 5, 741.

4 Edward H. Plumptre, Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart.

Related Topics: Christian Life

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