“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs” (Psalm 100:1-2).
In this world there are sad songs, love songs, and battle songs, but the songs of salvation are all songs of joy and gladness. David knew this when he wrote Psalm 51. In it he sings, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Psalm 51:12).
Salvation means joy, and joy means singing. Psalm 126 is about release from physical captivity, but it is also a great picture of salvation:
“When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (Psalm 126).
This song overflows with joy. All the joy comes from one place, and that is heaven. The center of heaven is God. He is the focus of everything. If God were not joyful, heaven would not be joyful—but it is. Heaven is joyful for the same reasons we are—our repentance and salvation.
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent…In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7, 10).
“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV).
God is with us, saves us, loves us, and rejoices over us with singing. For God to rejoice over me with singing is almost beyond my comprehension. I am joyful because I am saved, but it is difficult for me to realize that God is even happier about my salvation than I am.
Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, which means that the Holy Spirit is the source of joy. God sings over us with joy, the Holy Spirit gives us joy, and the Lord Jesus Christ looked forward to the joy beyond the cross:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
When my family and I arrived in Moscow, Idaho, in the fall of 1971, we met a group of people who gathered to sing every Wednesday evening. They had been converted through a lay witness mission the preceding February and had been singing ever since.
There are two reasons for music in this world. The first is the pleasure of listening to, playing, or singing it. The second is making or listening to music because of joy that was there beforehand. That is the way it is in heaven, and that is the way it should be in the Church. Because we associate music with good feelings, we sometimes reverse the order. We have music in church in order to cause pleasure, and then we mistake that pleasure for joy.
Revival in the church has two main results. One is restitution, and the other is joyful singing. Let us not forget the reason for the latter:
“And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshipped” (Revelation 5:9-14).
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