Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,…
That day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off (ver. 43).
I. THE CONSTITUENTS OF TRUE JOY. These are -
1. Thankfulness and praise in the remembrance of the past and in confident anticipation of the future. The people recounted the mercies of the Lord. Their dedication of the completed walls represented their preparation by the grace of God for his worship and service; their defence against assaults from without; their unity and order as a people. So ought all rejoicing to be well founded on the faith which has full possession of our hearts, and the consecrated religious life which maintains that faith in- practice.
2. Purification. We should keep our religious joy separate from the joy of this world, which is deceit and corruption. Our rejoicing must be "in the Lord." Nor should we forget that the pleasantness of God's house should be the chief support of a cheerful spirit. "They offered great sacrifices and rejoiced." The giving out of the heart in religious worship uplifts the whole strain of the life. A great expenditure of feeling in the pleasures of this world is exhausting to the nature, but religious emotion both purifies and exalts.
3. Fellowship. All rejoiced together - high and low, rich and poor, the strong men, the wives and children. The true joy is not solitary and selfish, but reveals the unity of kindred minds and sympathising hearts. Family life is elevated by the cultivation of the spirit of social worship and praise, both in the larger circle of the congregation and in the smaller of the household. All joys brighten in the atmosphere of religious joy. Salt of faith should be mixed with the various elements of earthly life to keep them from corruption.
II. A few hints to be gathered on THE METHOD OF PRAISE.
1. The gifts of nature should be sanctified and dedicated to religion. Possibility of a much higher development of the capacity of the Christian community. Musical ability a great responsibility. Importance of lifting up the expression of religious joy to a much higher stage, not by the increase of the sensuous element and mere ritualism, but by the thoughtful adaptation of the talents and acquirements of God's people to give a pure and beautiful form to the spirit of praise.
2. The element of worship must always be supreme. They offered sacrifices and rejoiced. Music must not usurp the place of higher things. Mere enjoyment must never be the motive. Nor is praise the only attitude of the believer's life. He appears in the temple as himself a sacrifice - body, soul, and spirit - unto God.
3. We must depend more or less upon the separation of individuals to be the leaders and helpers in giving expression to praise. Their support should be generous; their sanctification should be real. As much as possible the people of God should be independent of alliance with those whose dedication is not spiritual, but a mere secular engagement.
4. There was a recognition at Jerusalem of the labours and aims of holy men of former times. We should listen for the voice of the universal Church in our praise; then while it leads our chanting it exalts our ideal, and gives a wise variety to the form of our worship, keeping up the vitality and cheerfulness. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,