John Nelson Darby, in his 1890 translation of the Old Testament, renders the opening words of this section of scripture as follows: “Blessed are the people that know the shout of joy.” The Word “blessed” simply means “happy”, and here we are reminded that Christians are happy people, and because of their inward happiness, they shout for joy.
When the man at the Beautiful Gate experienced healing and came to know the Lord, he shouted for joy (Acts 3:8).
God’s people should be a happy and joyful people. Their joy is inward and spiritual, whereas ordinary people exhibit their happiness when all is well. There is a sense in which God’s people are a sad people. Jesus said: “Blessed (happy) are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). This seems to contradict what we have just been saying.
What it means, of course, is that even if we are passing through trials and testing, such as bereavement, we can know inward joy and true blessedness, because God will comfort and uphold us.
It is an interesting fact that we have no record of Jesus laughing. We are told that He was “a Man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3); but this was written in anticipation of the suffering He was to endure at Calvary as our Sin-bearer. On the other hand, the Lord spoke of “My joy” (John 15:11), and His desire for His own disciples was that they should experience His joy.
Is this desire of His being fulfilled in us? Are we happy, joyful Christians?
Over and over again in the Bible, we read of the blessedness of God’s people, and we have a fine example of this in Psalm 89:15-18, where we are told why Christians are, or should be, happy people.
Why are Christians’ happy people? Consider some of the reasons the psalmist mentioned.
(1) Christians are happy people because they know the joyful sound.
The reference here is to the blowing of trumpets. Just as it is customary for church bells to be rung in order to call the people of our land to worship God, so in the olden days when the trumpet is being blown, they rejoiced, because they were at once reminded of the spiritual blessings symbolized by the feats which were being held to celebrate the Lord’s dealing with His people.
“Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound”, says the psalmist, and the important word here is the word “know”. He does not say, “Blessed is the people that hear the joyful sound.” This tells us that God’s people are happy because they have spiritual discernment.
They have come to see and to realize the truth, for example in Ephesians 1:3.
Some years ago, I went to an exhibition of modern art, and while I was gazing at one fantastic effort consisting of a few straight lines and a few daubs of point, a “modern” artist came up to me and asked how I liked the picture. I told him I could not understand it all, to which he replied, “Excuse me sir, sir, you haven’t been initiated.” He was right. I had not, and I still have not been initiated! And to understand the mystery of the gospel and the things of the spirit, you need to be initiated. This is made very clear in 1 Corinthians 2:14.
The things of the Spirit are hidden from the undiscerning, as we learn from Jesus’ prayer:
“I thank thee, O’ Father Lord from Heaven and earth, because thou hast revealed them unto babes.” (Matthew 11:25).
We need to be shown the path of life for we do not know it of ourselves, nor can we find it without divine help: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life.” (Psalm 16:11).
If we invite a worldly man to go to a prayer meeting, or take a non-Christian to an evangelistic service, or give your testimony to someone who does not know the Lord, what is the result?
Out of politeness, these people may attend the meeting or evangelistic service, or listen to the story of your conversion, but until they become Christians, they do not know the joyful sound: their heart does not leap as they contemplate the things of God. They have no shout of joy.
Do we have a shout of joy? Does it thrill us as we meditate upon the love and the tender mercy of God, and do we raise to Him a joyful song of thanksgiving because He has sought and found and saved us who are such unworthy and unlovely sinners?
(2) Christians are happy people because they walk in the light of God’s countenance.
“They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance.”
One translation renders this: “They live within the sunshine of Thy favor.”
This means that God’s people live in the sunshine of His smile. No wonder they are so happy! This is not true of unbelievers. There are some very solemn words in the Bible which describe the position and the condition of the man who is not a Christian. He is said to be lost: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to serve which was lost.” (Luke 19:10).
He is perishing: (John 3:16).
He is condemned: (John 3:18).
Then in Psalm 7:11, we read that, “God is angry with the wicked every day.” This is very solemn indeed, for it ties up with John 3:36.
Unconverted, un-regenerated men are in enmity with God; it is only when a man turns in repentance to Christ, and trusts Him as His Lord and Saviour, that he can rejoice in the truth (Colossians 1:21).
Those who are not Christians do not love the Lord, they do not obey Him or serve Him; moreover, they are cut off from the fellowship with Him because of their sin (Ephesians 4:18).
But Christians have been reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Romans 5:10), and God’s smile is resting upon them, because they have been accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6); they have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1); and they experience “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). No wonder they shout for joy! No wonder they are happy!
Do we share this joy, these happenings, this blessedness?
(3) Christians are happy people because they are constantly rejoicing in the name of the Lord.
Why do they rejoice in Him? Because His Name represents His person, His character, His attributes and His work. What do we know about the person of our Lord Jesus? That is, to those who are clothed in Christ’s righteousness.
So, if you are a Christian and your faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you are clothed in His righteousness and seated with Him in the heaven. What a blessed thing this is! Surely, as we think about it, it makes us shout for joy. Doesn’t it?