The Psalmist isn’t so much sharing a promise as he is giving a command. He says to those who trust in the Lord that it is not just our responsibility to be joyful, but to make sure that everybody around us knows that we are full of the joy of the Lord as well. In fact, the Psalmist says that its not just our duty to “rejoice,” but to “shout for joy.” So, then, joyfulness is much more than mere privilege, it is our divine duty.
I believe the idea behind this command is found in the fact that to be downcast and despairing is unfitting for those of us who know and have experienced the blessings of the Lord. The Psalmist desires that there be many – multitudes – of exuberant, extravagant worshippers of our great God. That’s why he’s so frustrated with the very idea that the world would be considered to have a corner on joy or happiness. So, he calls upon those who know God, and worship the Lord, to right that mistaken impression.
In essence, the Psalmist says, “If you really love the Lord, don’t let the world think that your God is some sort of cosmic killjoy. Don’t let them have the impression that your love and devotion to him has made you miserable. Don’t quiet your laughter or discard your flowers. Don’t be so somber and solemn. Don’t dress or act like you’re on your way to a funeral. Don’t let all of your songs be sung in a minor chord. If you do, you will play into the world’s mistaken idea and bring reproach on your Lord.”
Think about it, is it consistent to look nice and dress nice? Are those who do the ones who are despondent and depressed – who think that they will perish at any moment? No, to dress happy and act happy is only justified by those who fervently believe in the reality of the resurrection. Which is more consistent for those who know the Lord, to sit alone, downtrodden and downcast or to thoroughly enjoy every passing hour? I think that it is more consistent for those who believe in eternal life than for those who believe that once the hour is past it can never be regained. Lost joys should never cause us to be sad because half of every pleasure is found in the hope that it will last. Who enjoys the little things in life more? Those who think that they are passing or those who see the simple pleasures as eternal? I believe that it is those who know that our God takes great delight in even the smallest things of life. Who takes great pleasure – basks even – in human love? Is it those who see love as simply chemical reactions in the human brain or those who know love to be a chief attribute of the person of God, one that He builds into His highest creation?
I believe that the Psalmist is correct. I believe that those who truly trust in the Lord are allowed to experience a higher happiness, a more full joy, than those who don’t know Him. No doubt, the world has, like Adam, stolen the Lord’s apples and placed them under its own tree. The world has claimed happiness as its own. It has claimed both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. The rivers and mountains, beauty and poetry, happiness and revelry have been relegated to man’s dominion. But the Scripture tells us to enter into the joy of our Lord, and I believe that the Lord’s joy also includes man’s joy.
There are many Christians who try to show that they are the Lord’s by displaying their toils and tears, but the Psalmist commands, “…let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy…” How can we ever seek to bring the world into the beauty of the Lord’s love when we are seen as standing in the shadows or wallowing in our own despair? Will the world truly believe in our Lord’s love if we sail on ships with flags flown at half mast? If we wear the black robes of mourning won’t the world rightly say of us, “These are they who are even now in great tribulation”? We must not be adorned so. Those of us who have been delivered from the far country should be dressed in the best, brightest, most brilliant of garments. We should be covered in our Father’s jewels, greeted with a feast, surrounded with the music and dancing of the Father’s house. We should teach those who don’t know our great God that for those who are redeemed, it is good to make merry and be glad!