Joy - Weekly Devotional
This week's focus: Joy
One of the most popular Christmas carols is "Joy to the World," the words of which were written by Isaac Watts in 1719. Yet, in fact, he did not intend to write a Christmas hymn at all. "Joy to the World" was originally the second part of a two-part hymn based on Psalm 98. It appeared in a collection of hymns called: The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament and applied to the Christian state and worship. Each of these compositions was based on one of the Psalms as seen from a Christian perspective.
Psalm 98 celebrates God's saving work. Yet, unlike the psalms that focus exclusively on God's revelation to Israel, Psalm 98 commemorates the fact that "the LORD has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!" (98:2). Even the Gentiles have seen God's victory. Therefore Psalm 98 invites everybody, Jew and Gentile alike, to "Shout to the Lord" and "break out in praise and sing for joy" (98:4).
What Psalm 98 celebrates in anticipation has begun to be fulfilled in Jesus. He came as the Savior of the whole world. Yet Jesus brought God's salvation to Israel in particular, though in a most unexpected way and, by many, unappreciated way. He came both to execute judgment and to be judged and executed. As a result of his sacrifice, God's salvation is offered to all peoples, both Jew and Gentile.
Thus, from a Christian perspective, the vision of Psalm 98 is joyful news for all people. God has been faithful to his chosen people and, through them, for indeed Jesus was a Jew, God has been gracious to all humanity. As Isaac Watts wrote, all people ought to prepare room for Jesus, the King of the whole earth, and rejoice at his coming.
Like Psalm 98, "Joy to the World" looks ahead to the fullness of salvation yet to come. In our world, sins and sorrows still grow, and thorns still infest the ground. The curse of sin has been broken, but the results of sin are still with us. Thus when we sing "Joy to the World" we look back to the first coming of Christ, celebrating his birth and the salvation it makes possible. At the same time, we look forward to the day when the impact of sin will be erased, and all nations will prove the glories of God's righteousness and the wonders of his love. In this hope, we rejoice.
© 2010 by The High Calling and the Theology of Work Project, Inc.
Psalm 98:4-6 (ESV)
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
- Let the carol, Joy to the World, be your prayer today: Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room, And heav’n and nature sing...
- Pray for communities in Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas as they face such massive devastation and loss after powerful tornadoes ripped through. Particularly, keep the community of Mayfield, KY in your prayers where there was a great loss of life.
- As we near the end of 2021, we are already preparing for 2022 and all the midterm elections. Here’s a quick glance at what’s at stake: 435 seats in the U.S. House; 34 seats in the U.S. Senate; 36 Governor seats, 84 percent (6,166) of state legislatures; and tens of thousands of local seats for city council, school board, and more. Spend time in prayer for the elections next year. Pray for voters to be informed and to make the effort to vote.
We want to see God honored in America, and we pray for an unprecedented spiritual awakening.
This devotion was produced in partnership with Every Home for Christ.
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