Make a Joyful Noise Unto The Lord
18 Jun 2005, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO THE LORD
'Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands'
The Psalmist in Ps 66:1 is trying desperately to express, in his own words, the response that we should have when we take the Lord of life into our hearts. He wants us to recognise what God has done for you and me and to help us understand his awesome creative power. This is a thanksgiving Psalm that speaks not only to God's own peculiar people, but also to all those who live in the earth.
In order to comprehend the depth of what the Psalmist is trying to say we need to understand what the word 'joy' or 'joyful' actually means.
MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO GOD.
The oxford dictionary suggests that it means: elation, ecstasy, jubilation, rejoicing and satisfaction. It even equates joy with paradise and heaven.
MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO GOD
The new Webster's dictionary further says it is 'the outward expression of intense happiness or great delight.'
Only those who have come to know God in a personal way will relate to what these words are saying. Intense happiness or true happiness can only ever come from knowing God. Do you believe that?
Thomas Aquinas, one of the early church fathers, once said that 'Man cannot live without joy; therefore, when he is deprived of true spiritual joys it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures. It would seem that there is no middle ground (Water, 1995: 536).
C. S. Lewis supported this thought when he said 'I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy' (Ibid: 537).
This thought is further extended by Leslie Weatherhead who suggests that 'the opposite of joy is not sorrow. It is unbelief' (Ibid).
Henri Nouwen exclaimed that 'Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved' (Ibid).
Helen KELLER, blind since she was two years of age, suggested in her speech to a group of college students that we 'Join the great company of those who make the barren places of life fruitful with kindness. Carry a vision of heaven in your hearts, and you shall make your name, your college [neighbourhood], and the world, correspond to that vision. Your success and happiness lie within you. External conditions are the accidents of life, its outer wrappings. The great, enduring realities are love and service. JOY is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulty' (Ibid: 536,537).
In the Sun Herald December 12, 2004 comment was made on a research report entitled 'The Spirituality and Wellbeing in Australia'. It was conducted by Anglicare as part of the National Church Life Survey. This comprehensive report links true happiness to having faith in God. Dr. Peter Kaldor, the Report's principal author, said that those who had a 'sense of there being something more, that orders the universe' tended to have more sense of purpose and personal growth and contributed more to others.
After listening to the Psalmist we would expect a report to come up with those conclusions, wouldn't we? HAPPINESS IS ALL ABOUT HAVING FAITH. This is the Report's conclusion, and so we need to be thankful for the interest the Lord continues to show in our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing during our short time here on planet earth.
In turning to the New Testament book of Philippians, we find it was written while the apostle Paul was incarcerated in a Roman dungeon. Considering the circumstances he was in, this book is an amazing piece of work. Instead of being the gloomy report one would have expected from a prisoner, the book of Philippians is called the JOY Epistle. In fact, the idea of Joy or rejoicing appears more than a dozen times in this very short letter. Paul says: 'I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation' (Philippians 4:11,12: The Living Bible).
Once again this response shows that joy relies on a persons faith in a loving God and recognises His concern and care no matter what the circumstances of life that are confronting us.
This belief is further confirmed in 1 Peter 4:13 where he says 'But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you might be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.' It would almost seem from this statement that joy is produced by the Lord and not of ourselves. In fact, Galatians 5:22,23 makes this very clear by including joy in the list of gifts given by the Holy Spirit. LISTEN TO THEM - love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO GOD, ALL YE LANDS.
In the Old Testament, joy is related to the religious life of Israel and is expressed in tumultuous excitement at festivals, sacrifices and enthronements. Spontaneous joy was seen to be a mark of both corporate worship and personal adoration (Wood, 1994: 820).
In the New Testament 'joy' marks the life of the early Church in connection with the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom. In Acts 13: 52 we are told that joy accompanies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, joy is associated with miracles performed in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8: 8) and joy characterises 'The Lord's Supper' (Acts 2: 46) (Ibid).
JOY is derived from our love for God and we are called to share in the joy of Christ by a daily walk with Him and, like the Psalmist of old who wants to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, we need each day, to rejoice or be joyful in the knowledge of Him and His future salvation for each and everyone who believes (1Thess 5: 16, 1 Pet. 1: 8, Phil. 3: 1; 4: 4).
A gentleman by the name of Octavius Winslow expands this further by suggesting that 'The religion of Christ is the religion of joy…The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories…his future is a heaven of …untold and endless blessedness….' With such a God, should he not be a joyful man? (Water, 1995: 537).
John in Revelation 21:4 tells us that '…God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.'
IN HEAVEN WE ARE TOLD THERE WILL ONLY BE JOY.
I would like to challenge you this morning to make God an important part of your life and then, making a joyful noise unto God will become a natural response.
MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO GOD, ALL YE LANDS.
Water, M. (1995) The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations. Hampshire UK: John Hunt Publishing Ltd.
Wood, D. (Co-ord) (1994) The Illustrated Bible Dictionary Part 2. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.
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