1 Chronicles 16:23-25
Sing to the LORD, all the earth; show forth from day to day his salvation.…
These verses reappear in Psalm 96. In that psalm the sacred nation is charged to praise Jehovah, and to spread the good tidings in all places. Such praise is fitting, seeing that all other deities are nothing, and Jehovah is God alone. Calvin, writing on this psalm, says, "It is an exhortation to praise God, addressed not to the Jews only, but to all nations. Whence we infer that the psalm refers to the kingdom of Christ; for till he was revealed to the world his Name could not be called upon anywhere but in Judaea." It is said that when the sun is going out of sight the pious Swiss herdsman of the Alps takes his Alpine horn and shouts loudly through it, "Praise ye the Lord." Then a brother herdsman on some distant slope takes up the echo, "Praise ye the Lord." Soon another answers, still higher up the mountains, till hill shouts to hill, and peak answers to peak, the sublime anthem of praise to the Lord of all. Characteristic of the psalmist is joy in God: and in this he is the one great Scripture example; Isaiah, perhaps, coming next after him, and St. Paul having much of the same feature marking even his toilsome and suffering life. Joy, as an element of religious life, must in part depend on:
1. Disposition. Some are of sanguine and hopeful, others of desponding, disposition. Some can easily turn everything into song, while others can never get beyond stern prose. We are not responsible for our natural dispositions, but we are for their due modification, harmony, and culture. Often latent and unsuspected faculties can be developed, and it is seldom wise to excuse failure and shortcoming on the ground of "human nature'"
2. Poetical faculty. Where this is given joy and song would seem to Be easy; yet, on the other side, it may be said that poets are often sad-toned men, probably because accompanying the poetical faculty is a power of insight which brings to the poet's eye the wrong that lies at the heart of so much that is seemingly good. But this cannot apply to thoughts and views of God. Insight and faculty can only find reasons for joy and song when they have to do with him and his all-merciful ways.
3. Youthful piety. Those who seek God early, as David did, usually have a brightness and gladness and joy of full trust on their whole religious lives Which the later-renewed can never reach. This is one of the best of the rewards given to early piety.
4. Earnest soul-culture. This, by leading to renewals of trust, to firmer hold of revealed truth, and to deeper experiences of Divine communion, bears directly upon the joy side of Christian feeling. When attained, Christian joy becomes a witness for two reasons or in two ways.
I. IT MEETS THE COMMON SENTIMENT THAT A THING MUST BE GOOD IN ITSELF IF IT TENDS TO MAKE US BRIGHT AND HAPPY. How common this sentiment is may be shown from ordinary life. The people who always cheer us, we feel sure, must be good people, and the same may be said of books, etc. In this way, therefore, our personal joy in God may become a gracious moral power on all who are around us. And hazy Christians have a most noble and blessed witness.
"Sing on your heavenward way,
Ye ransomed sinners, sing." A weary world sadly needs the sweet relief and cheering of much Christian song.
II. IT SETS CHRISTIANITY IN A DISTINCT AND IMPRESSIVE CONTRAST WITH ALL OTHER RELIGIONS. They are familiar enough with the sentiment of fear. In perilous rebounds they know seasons of intense sensual excitement, which caricature true joy. But the prevailing tone of all other religions besides Christianity is sad. Only the Christian may "abound in joy through the Holy Ghost." Who could sing before that Athenian altar whereon was inscribed, "To the unknown God"? And who could fail to sing ann give praise, that might look into the face of the Father of Jesus, and say, "This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our Guide even unto death "? - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.