On my shelf sits a book titled, "The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts" (Soli Gloria Publications, 1997). It's actually a hymnal. One of the famous hymns found in this book is "Joy to the World," a popular hymn enjoyed at this time of year. You've probably sung this hymn a time or two, and you probably know at least some of the words. But did you know draws its inspiration from Psalm 98? Technically, that's how Watts titled his hymn although it has come to be known by the first line of the song. And did you know it's the second part of a 2-part song. The first part also draws it's inspiration from Psalm 98.
Here's Part 1:
To our Almighty Maker, God,What a wonderful response and celebration of the gospel! As we dig in to Psalm 98, we can see the pattern that Watts followed. Take a minute to read Psalm 98:1-5. Can you see the required response to the gift of salvation? Does your heart desire to sing a new song? Does your life make a joyful noise to the Lord?
New honours be address'd;
And makes the nations bless'd.
He spake the word to Abraham first;
The Gentiles make his name their trust,
And learn his righteousness.
Let the whole earth his love proclaim
With all her diff'rent tongues,
And spread the honours of his name
In Melody and songs.
Part 2 of Watt's hymn is the part most of us know. It goes like this:
Joy to the World! the Lord is come!And there it is again! Can you feel Watt's emotion in response to Psalm 98. Take a minute to read Psalm 98 again. What a wonderful response to the gospel.
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev'ry heart prepare him room,
And heav'n and nature sing.
Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ,
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And make the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness,
And wonder of his love.
You will be discussing Psalm 98 in your House Fellowships this week. I'll be preaching the Christmas story from this text on December 21st. As you prepare for your House Fellowship, meditate and pray on what it is to have this kind of joy as a direct response to the goodness of the gospel. As you ponder the magnitude of it all, is joy bursting out of you?
It's my hope and prayer joy--this kind of joy--will be your definition for your Christmas celebration this year. But even more so, I pray that you have this kind of joy because you have been saved and call Jesus your Lord.
May we together be a church that sings a new song and makes a joyful noise. May we be a church filled with joy!
P.S.> If you're reading this and you're not in a House Fellowship at Redeeming Life, I'd love to help you get connected with one. Please don't hesitate to contact me or one of the House Fellowship leaders.