And Just Why Should I Rejoice and Be Glad This Day?
Written By: Chris Mace
One day the Psalmist awoke feeling good! With gratitude in his heart and a song on his lips, he lifted his voice in praise: “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) That may not have been the attitude of the lobsterman who owned this boat!
In all honesty, that wasn’t how the Psalmist had been feeling either. When taken in its context, his praise and joy arose from the realization that God was providentially working in his life through a long stretch of troublesome, dangerous experiences and difficult days. “All nations surrounded me; …They surrounded me on every side…They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns…” His rejoicing was a conscious decision to praise instead of whining or being angry about what he had gone through.
We have our battles. They may not be physical confrontations, but we know what it is to be threatened or overwhelmed and at the mercy of situations that may or may not be our fault but have escalated beyond our control. We have awakened with dread and misgivings-deflated and depressed by failures, tough circumstances, afflictions, hard and unwelcomed work stress, disappointments, betrayals, family turmoil, disrupted relationships, and losses that are irreparable. We have known desperation! And there was no rejoicing!
However, the Psalmist could rejoice because he believed in God’s immutable character. He focused on his relationship with God rather than his emotions or his circumstances. Three times he declares that God’s “steadfast love endures forever”. He also said, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” “The LORD is on my side as my helper.” That knowledge and confidence strengthened him to push through his trial.
Whatever the reasons for his predicaments, including the possibility of God’s discipline, our songster knew he had not been forsaken. He was safe in God’s gracious, merciful protective love. That is a major Scriptural theme for those who choose God. The New Testament letter to the Romans beautifully lays this out for believers: “…nothing can ever separate (you) from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate (you) from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate (you) from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
The Psalmist also knew that no human had the ability or the persistence to carry him through his ordeal. God was his only hope. “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” Drawing on the power of God’s name in the midst of conflict and fear, he cried to God for help to do what he could not do for himself. “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD…I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.”
Our Psalmist has taken us into the heart of the Gospel as he asks for God’s righteousness and salvation. Just as God saved him, Christ answers our need to be righteous and to be free from the shame and condemnation of sin and from the fear of death. His righteousness and atonement for mankind are foundational for redemption. He is our righteousness,. (1 Corinthians 1:30) And He is heaven’s gate. He is “ the door. If anyone enters by (by him), he will be saved….” (John 10:9)
These truths are captured in a lovely contemporary “Psalm”: “In Christ alone my hope is found/ He is my light, my strength, my song/This cornerstone, this solid ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm/What heights of love, what depths of peace/When fears are stilled, when strivings cease/My comforter, my all in all/ Here in the love of Christ I stand“ (lyrics by Stuart Townsend)
Rejoice and be glad because we can rely upon the consistent character and good purposes of God. If God is for us, who can stand against His redemptive and resurrection powers?
“Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms.” Psalm 68:19 “