This week marked a change in my life schedule which is good. However, the time I have available to write is less as well as less structured. As a result, I have not produced an entry in my posts for about a week. Because of this change, I may not be able to write as frequently or as extensively as before. However, I do not want to give up this project so instead, I plan to change the focus a little. Rather than writing about both readings each day, I will likely more often, concentrate on one of the two readings and it may not be every day. Even though this change initially troubles me since it is a shift from my original goal, I shall adapt. I will remind myself that the purpose of this online journal was never to inform or attract other readers, though all are welcome, it is to give me an avenue to deepen my quiet time with the God of the Bible.
In the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 98 is known as the Cantate Domino (“Sing to the Lord”) and is placed between the evening Old Testament reading and it New Testament counterpart. It overflows with exhilarating worship and joy. 1
The last word of the above quote from D. A. Carson was the primary focus of my reading this morning. This summer, for the most part, has been one often void of real joy. Spending so much time without work created an ever increasing discontent with life and with my goals. The bright spot was an increasing awareness of God’s “ever presence” and a sensitivity to my sin.
I also became increasingly aware of a clearer definition of “joy”. It doesn’t come from things. It doesn’t even come from people, really. It ultimately only comes from pleasure in God. God is constant and when my joy is in Him, my joy will remain constant also. Things will fade, people will disappoint, but God remains constant forever.
In this Psalm, the author writes many imperatives. Two of them, I highlighted, Psalm 98:4 and Psalm 98:6. Three times he uses the word joyful or joyous. He also commands that my joy be expressed verbally (noise, song). I might point out also that the Lord is the receiver of my expression. Because of my cynical sin nature, I am often suspicious of outward expressions of worship during singing in church or similar venues. My suspicions are wrong but they limit my ability to express my joy and praise in a likewise fashion. However, I do feel a pull to worship the Lord and express my joy in Him.
Psalm 98 is a great expression of the grateful heart. Recently, I have seen the might hand of God do some really awesome things in my life and my responses are gratefulness and joy. The joy part seems weak, though, because the circumstances are difficult. Today’s psalm teaches me to focus on God not circumstances. The result will be unrestrained joy!
1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998.