The joy of The Lord is my strength.
This is a phrase I’m sure we’ve all heard a lot throughout our lives as Christians. It’s one that we have probably reminded ourselves of during time of trouble or sadness. I know that for me personally, it is something that, while I do try to live by it, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and thought about what it means.
The Passage that this phrase comes from is in Nehemiah 8.
8 So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
The people began weeping when they heard the law of The Lord. Their reaction to understanding the law was weeping. But Nehemiah and Ezra told them that really this was a cause for celebration and joy! What joy to be able to understand the word of The Lord!!
It is this joy of knowing The Lord and understanding his word that is our strength. When all else fails, you can always fall back on the fact that you know The Lord and his commands. And when you aren’t sure what else there is to do, you can follow The Lord’s law and have security knowing that you are doing what is right.
We are to rejoice in the fact that we know what God has told us to do. How great is it that our God has provided us with laws and commands and a guide (the Bible) to help us know how we are to act! Even when we may not live up to what is expected of us, we can fall back knowing that we have the LORD!
The joy that comes from the security of knowing God is steadfast.
As I think about this passage I also wonder if it goes the other way too. Is The Lord also over joyed when his people hear and understand his word? He has come and given his commands to us and so many times we don’t understand them or ignore them all together. When e finally do hear, understand, and listen, how much does The Lord delight in us and have joy? And maybe that is the joy that The Lord then shares back with us that is our strength. He powerful! For the lord’s own joy, that he felt from our understanding, is given back to us to strengthen us and to help us endure! What a gracious and giving God!
So that in which The Lord takes joy, so shall I also. Because without that joy, I would have no strength.