You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
When have you felt really, really joyful? When have you been so full of gladness that you just couldn’t keep it inside? Perhaps it was on the day of your graduation from college . . . or the graduation of your children. Maybe you felt great joy when you were honored at work or in the community. Or, it may be that you are most joyful on holidays when your whole family is gathered around the table for a festive meal.
In the agrarian society of ancient Israel, abundant harvests produced abundant joy. When the people planted their grain and grapes, they could never be sure how it would all turn out. If the right combination of factors, especially rain, sun, and fertile soil, came together, then there would be plenty to eat, and even something left over to be traded or sold. When the grain and grapes were plentiful, the people rejoiced plentifully.
According to Psalm 4:7, however, the Lord gave David “greater joy” even than the rejoicing over a bountiful harvest. Sometimes this joy came from God’s tangible blessings. At other times, the joy came from God’s presence and protection (4:8). When the “light” of God’s own face shines upon us, then we know the fullness of joy. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we are free from cares and burdens. But it does mean that our joy is not dependent on circumstance, but rather on the love of God for us . . . something that never fails.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When have you been very joyful? What helped you to feel this way? Have you experienced the “greater joy” of God’s presence and favor? When? How might you be even more open to God’s joy today?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the good gifts of this life, for abundant harvests, for dear friends and family, for achievements and honors. Thank you for creating me with the capacity for joy.
Even more, I thank you today for the “greater joy” that comes from you. How grateful I am that you make yourself known to me. How much I appreciate your presence and protection.
O Lord, may I live in your joy more and more each day. May I share that joy with others, drawing them into a deeper relationship with you.
I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.
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