For the past couple of months I’ve been feeling down and depressed. I don’t know if it’s because I’ll be turning the big “FOUR-0” this July, or because gas prices are going up, or because my 128 year old home is falling apart. Whatever the reason, I’ve been trying to find a way to be happy. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it. Then a couple weeks ago, a group of us studied Psalm 33. The first words of the Psalmist were, “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp, make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song, play skillfully, and shout for joy.” (vs. 1-3) I sort of laughed and wondered how could I sing joyfully to the Lord in this not so joyful world? Why is the Psalmist telling me to praise the Lord with musical instruments and to shout for joy? Is he crazy? But then as we studied, my question slowly turned from “how” to “why”? Why should we sing joyfully to the Lord? Why should we shout for joy? In this song, the Psalmist beautifully lays out 3 simple reasons on why we should sing joyfully to the Lord. It was through these 3 why’s when I came to realize that I can be joyful no matter what comes my way.
Why We Should Sing Joyfully to the Lord : Reason #1 (vs. 4-5)
The first reason the Psalmist gives on why we should sing joyfully to the Lord is heard in the first verse of his song. He sings, “For the word of the LORD is right and true.” (vs. 4a)
We can be joyful because “the word of the Lord is right and true”. What does this mean? John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Here, the “word” that the Psalmist is speaking about is not the spoken or written word, but Jesus our Lord and Savior. The Psalmist is saying that Jesus is the only one who can bring true joy because he is the only one who is right and true. In her book, “Resilience”, Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Senator John Edwards, admits how she put all her hope and expected joy in her husband and family. But after reading her book, one can see that they did not bring her joy or happiness.
Like her and many of us, I also put my hope in my family, seeking joy from them. All of us seek joy from this world. No one is excluded. But none of us can honestly say that we’re truly happy. Not even Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder of Facebook, who is the youngest billionaire in this world can say he’s found the secret to happiness.
Life is full of problems. Everyone in this world faces them. Death, pain, betrayals, disappointments. Even Christians who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, face these things as well. So that’s why I believe the question isn’t, “How can I avoid problems and only have joy all the time”, but, “Why should I be joyful no matter what comes my way?” Verses 4b-5 say “he is faithful in all he does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” This world is not messed up because of what God has done, but it’s messed up because of what we have done. Human beings were created in the image of God and were created to rule over and to care for this world. But, because of our disobedience, our sin, our rule over the world became corrupt and limited. As a result, we fell away from God’s image, and the world and all mankind fell underneath God’s wrath. God’s wrath was His eternal destruction of our souls. But God’s love for us didn’t fail. God promised to send his one and only Son, who would come to this world and divert God’s wrath away from us to himself. God was faithful to this promise and came to this world as a human being. God entered humanity through his Son Jesus to restore our reign over the world. Jesus became fully human and experienced human suffering. Because of this, he understands our weaknesses. He understand why we’re so unhappy. Like us, he was tempted in every way, yet he did not sin (Heb 4:14-16). Jesus took all of our sins and punishment to the cross. It was more than he could bear. But he did it, because, as the Psalmist sings, “the earth is full of his unfailing love.”
Finally, Jesus died and rose again from the dead, restoring our image and relationship with God. Some day he will come again, as promised, and will restore this world back to the way God intended it to be, joyful! This is why we should sing joyfully to the Lord - “For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”
Why We Should Sing Joyfully to the Lord : Reason #2 (6-11)
The second reason the Psalmist gives on why we should sing joyfully to the Lord is heard in the second verse of his song. He sings, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (vs. 6)
We can be joyful in this not so joyful world when we realize that God is the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the universe. The power of God and who He really is goes way beyond what we can comprehend. The Psalmist says, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars.” (vs 6-7). Do you know how hard it is to gather waters of the sea into jars? We have a hard time surviving whenever a flood hits. And to make the heavens? Simple. God just spoke and it came into existence! He commanded, and everything stood firm. And the stars? He puffed some air out of his mouth and voila, there they were! Mankind, is working hard on vaccines and cures for all kinds of things. They spent years just coming up with the vaccine for small pox. And to balance the nation’s deficit? Impossible! But God, just speaks, and he’s able to put into existence 10*10 to the 21st stars in the universe. That’s 10 followed by 21 zeroes - 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. He just breaths, and he’s able to put 7 * 10 to the 27th atoms into one human body. That’s 7 followed by 27 zeroes - 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. No wonder the Psalmist tells us to fear the Lord (9).
What in the world do we have to be so depressed about? God is bigger than any problem in this world. Verse 10 tells us that he foils the plans of the nations. All this uproar in the Middle East is scaring a lot of people, including me. The other day a man on a Christian radio station said that the Muslim’s ultimate goal is to make America an Islamic nation. When I heard this, I trembled. And how about gas prices? Social security? Retirement funds? Our jobs? The economy? What about our children? Our homes? So now I ask, what is there to be so joyful about? Again, the Psalmist points us to God our Creator. Again verse 10 says that the Lord can easily foil the plans of nations, that he can easily thwart the purposes of the people. God is in control. Not the Middle East. Not Muslims. Not the White House. Not our bosses. Not even me. But God our Creator is in control of all things. This is the second reason why we can sing joyfully in this not so joyful world.
Why We Should Sing Joyfully to the Lord : Reason #3 (10-19)
The third reason the Psalmist gives on why we should sing joyfully to the Lord is heard in the third verse of his song. He sings, “From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth.”(vs. 13-14)
The other day as I was driving in my car, I started to think about all the bad things I did in my life. All those I lied to, all those that I hurt. Then I began to think about God who, despite all of our sins and weaknesses, still loves and cares for me. This amazes me. The Psalmist tells us that the Lord is looking down at us from heaven and watching us. He’s telling us that God is not just some distant far off God who only intervenes when we need to be disciplined. He’s not a busy father who has no time for his kids. Nor is he just sitting up in heaven sipping tea as we suffer here on earth. Rather, our God is a God who loves us.
God wants to be with us, talk to us, listen to us, and care for us. Yet, we seem like we don’t always want to be with Him. When we’re hurt, instead of going to Him, we go somewhere else. When we sin, instead of asking for forgiveness, we try to overcome it on our own. When I fell into depression, I thought if I spent more time reading the Bible, spent more time with my wife, and found a new home to buy, then my depression would go away. But instead of going away, it only got worse. We all do this. Instead of looking up to God, we hit the bars, invest in silver and gold, log onto Facebook, join dating websites, and blog. Yet, no matter how hard we try, our problems are still there. The Psalmist says in verses 16-17, “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.”
Verses 18-19 say, “But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” The point is, the world cannot bring us happiness, but God can. The world cannot save us, but God can. The world is too busy to help us, but God is never too busy. Often times the worlds casts us out because of our mistakes. But God will never cast us out. God loves us with an unfailing and everlasting love. This is third reason why we can sing joyfully to the Lord in this not so joyful world.
Verses 20-22 are the Psalmist’s concluding words. I believe these final 3 verses are the chorus of his song. The chorus is the main theme. It is the part that sticks to our mind because it supports the verses of the song. The first part of the chorus says, “We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield” (vs. 20). This part supports reasons #1. It reiterates the fact that we should rejoice because Jesus died for our sins, and will someday return restoring the kingdom of God back to Earth. The second part of the chorus says, “In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.”(vs. 21) This supports reasons #2. It re-states the point that we should rejoice because God is in control of all things. And the third part of the chorus which says, “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you” (vs. 22), reminds us that God’s love is unfailing and everlasting. When we remember these three 3 reasons, we can be joyful in this not so joyful world.