Psalm 89:15
We do not know the circumstances which occasioned this psalm, but we may fitly apply the words of our text to the revelation of God in Christ. Now -


1. It tells of forgiveness. This is the need of all, the indispensable need, and is met only in Christ. Therefore the gospel, which tells of Christ, and his atonement, and the full free forgiveness granted in him to every penitent, believing soul, is a joyful sound.

2. Of a new nature. Forgiveness apart from this would be of little avail. but Christ is "made unto us...sanctification" (see Ezekiel 36:25-31).

3. Of peace of soul - that inward calm and rest of faith which, combined with the consciousness of pardon and purity in Christ, constitute here and now a real heaven in the soul.

4. Of eternal life. Our joy abides. For all these reasons the gospel is a joyful sound.


1. In what they possess. A new and happy relationship with God.

2. In what they are.

3. In the influence they exert.


1. A man's life. "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance," etc. A man must get through life some way: the question is - How? But here is a way told of which is, indeed, a good way. To walk in the light of God's countenance is to have the consciousness of God's love resting on one. To know you have the love of a valued friend is good: how much more that of God! It gives serenity of heart, freedom from fear, confidence of deliverance from all evil.

2. A man's spirit. "In thy Name shall they rejoice," etc. Joy is essential to the healthy life of the soul, as light is to that of the body. Now that in which they who are spoken of here rejoice is the Name of God: "thy Name." But by the Name of God is meant all that which we find in God. "He hath done all things well" is the verdict which their souls promptly and steadily pronounce. The man is born again, renewed in the spirit of his mind, and hence God is no longer a terror or a dislike to him, but "his exceeding Joy."

3. A man's condition. "In thy righteousness shall they be exalted." Before their own conscience; for it is kept pure and void of offence. Before their fellow men. Is not that so? "Them that honour me I will honour," saith God. We see this every day. And in the presence of God at last. "They shall be mine in the day when I make up my jewels" (Malachi 3:17).


1. For many professed Christians do not; and hence they show a sad and unhappy contrast to what has been said. They do not seem blessed any way - not in their daily life, nor in the spirit of their mind, nor are they "exalted" at all as is here said.

2. The reason is that, though they may be familiar with the letter of the gospel, they yet do not really know it. For to know the joyful sound is to realize and to appropriate it, to heartily believe and obey it.

3. The conditions of such knowledge are: We must greatly desire it; we must prepare for it, for however large our heart may be, the Lord's grace will want all the room; therefore if it be cumbered with other and evil things, there will not be room for him. The Israelites at the Passover were to put away the leaven. So must we put away all known sin. And then believe, trust, and for yourself, the glad gospel message. So shall you come to really know it, and our text shall be fulfilled for you. - S.C.

Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound.
I. The Gospel is a HAPPY MESSAGE. "The joyful sound." It is good news.

1. Liberty to the captive.

2. Pardon to the condemned.

3. Salvation to the lost.

4. Immortality to the dying. It is a trumpet of jubilee.

II. The Gospel ACCEPTED SECURES HAPPY RESULTS. "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound." Know it experimentally.

1. It secures the highest happiness in life. "Shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance."

2. It secures a personal joy in life. "In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day." The joy of a grateful heart, an approving conscience, of a glowing hope, of an adoring soul.

3. It secures a righteous exaltation in life. "In Thy righteousness shall they be exalted." There is no true exaltation in life that is not according to the righteousness of God.

4. It secures complete protection in life. "The Lord is our defence, and the Holy One of Israel is our King." Truly, then, "Blessed is the people" that experimentally "know the joyful sound" of the Gospel.


I. THEY KNOW THE JOYFUL SOUND. This is not a mere common or ordinary knowledge; it is not earthly knowledge; for man, by his own powers, could never have discovered a way of reconciliation with God. It is not mere superficial knowledge; but the desires and the affections and the heart are interested in it. It is not more intellectual knowledge; for although these subjects are the grandest upon which the mind of man may exercise itself, yet those who possess the knowledge here spoken of possess it not merely in their heads, but in their hearts; they are influenced by it; it is to them spiritual knowledge, experimental knowledge, practical knowledge, having an influence on their lives and conduct and conversation, their hopes, their desires, and their endeavours.


1. They live under the constant recollection that God sees them, that they are under His constant and diligent inspection.

2. They enjoy the favour of God.

III. THEY REJOICE IN HIS NAME ALL THE DAY LONG. What, then, is the character of this joy? It is pure; there is no admixture of unholy principle, or unholy desire, or unholy gratification: it is solid and steady, resting upon a sure and substantial foundation: it is animating; it inspires them amid the difficulties of life: it is satisfying; ah! and it is abiding.


(E. Tottenham, M.A.)

I. RECOGNIZING THE DIVINE VOICE. "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound" — that is, blessed are they who know its meaning, who, hearing it break upon the morning air, know that the hour of their deliverance draweth nigh.

II. LIVING IN THE DIVINE LIGHT. "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance." The walking of which the Bible has so much to say is a sustained progression from sin to holiness. To hear and obey the joyful sound is to live in the Divine light, and to live in the Divine light is to live in the Divine favour. But we can only live thus as we set Him before us; regarding His honour as having the first claim, seeking first the kingdom of God.

III. REJOICING IN THE DIVINE NAME. "In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day." Our joy need not depend upon our mood of the moment: for knowing that the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, we may rejoice ever in the saving name of our God.

IV. BEING EXALTED IN THE DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS. "In Thy righteousness shall they be exalted," or, "they are exalted." The people that know the joyful sound are lifted up, not by any power of their own, but by God's adherence to His own gracious covenant. In Adam we were abased, but in Christ we are exalted. What a paradox that the believer, lowly and poor, taking ofttimes a humble place among men, often cast down by the burdens of life, yet should be sitting with Christ in the heavenly places.

(F. Burnett.)


1. It comes from a world of joy, the happiest world in the universe.

2. It calls to a world of joy.

II. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THIS JOYFUL SOUND. It is not so easy as we suppose to get the light of Divine truth into a sinner's darkened mind. It may shine down upon him from heaven so clear and bright that we may think it must penetrate his understanding at least; but let God leave him alone, it will be found perhaps in the great majority of cases that it has scarcely entered even that; that the man's understanding has been almost as completely closed against God's truth as the man's heart.


1. An habitual enjoyment of the Divine favour. "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance;" that is, as long as their knowledge of the Gospel is clear and their faith in it undisturbed, they shall go on their way with a consciousness within them that He is at peace with them, full of love to them.

2. A rejoicing in the Divine perfections. "In Thy name," etc. If we have learnt the Gospel aright, we have learnt that there is something in God which can meet our case under all circumstances; that let the day change as it will, there is always a refuge for us in Him. He is like a port ever near the soul when the storm comes; and such a port, that let the soul be in it, all the storms that can blow will do the soul no harm. It will be as safe and may be as happy as though all around it were a calm.

3. A conscious elevation in the Lord's righteousness. They are invested, as it were, with it. And this exalts the soul; exalts it in fact — lifts it up above the law's curses and penalties; gives it in Christ a right and title to the law's promises; places it on a level in Christ with those of God's creatures who have never sinned. And it exalts the soul within, in its own apprehensions and feelings. With a righteousness upon me wrought out by God's holy, everlasting Son, where are my fears, my shame, and my native vileness? And feeling thus, the believer's soul becomes morally exalted, exalted in character. With his Saviour's righteousness upon him, he longs increasingly to be righteous within, like that Saviour. He feels impelled to rise, to live above sin and self and the world, above the ordinary level of his fellow-men; and so through grace in some measure he does rise and does live.

(C. Bradley, M.A.)


1. They shall not sit still, doing nothing to purpose for God and their immortal souls, like the rest of the world, dead in trespasses and sins.

2. They shall not go back to their former lusts in their ignorance.

3. They shall hold forward in their way in spite of all opposition.

4. They shall walk on in the sight of the Lord, as he who walketh in the light walks in the sight of the sun.


1. They shall be ever in a state of favour, peace and reconciliation with God,

2. No cloud of revenging wrath shall ever gather above their heads any more, no curse of the law, no guilt of eternal wrath.

3. Whatever cloud may gather above their head in their way heavenward, it shall never be so thick but the light of the Lord's countenance shall shine through it (Psalm 89:31-34).

4. They shall be directed in their way (Psalm 32:8).

5. They shall be strengthened in their way, for this light is the light of life.

6. They shall be cheered and comforted in their way. Hence we may learn —(1) Whence it is that many communicants are nothing bettered by Gospel ordinances, but even go away as they come, a prey to their lusts and an evil world. They sit down to the feast, but they rise not up to the journey. Why? Alas! they never get into the saving knowledge of the joyful sound. They hear it, but they do not believe it. They believe it not with application to themselves. Hence it hath no quickening, nor sanctifying influence on them.(2) Whence it is that many of the saints are so weak and comfortless in their way heavenward, walking so much in the dark. It is all owing to the small measure of their faith of the joyful sound.(3) That the faith of the Gospel is the sovereign remedy in all darkness and distresses in which a person can be. Believing is a duty that can never be out of season. This is the way to bring one out of darkness into the light. If then thou art in desertion, temptation, or affliction, go to the promise and embrace it by faith. Believers, bless God for what your ears do hear and for what your eyes do see. Seek for more of this blessedness. As ever ye would walk on your way heavenward, safely and comfortably, labour more and more to know the joyful sound; and to know it so as to believe it; and to believe it so as to apply it to your own souls, according to your several exigencies.

(T. Boston, D.D.)


1. Because it is a proclamation of mercy and forgiveness to the guilty and rebellious.

2. Because it proclaims liberty to the enslaved.

3. Because it produces peace to them that are in trouble.



1. They are blessed in their life. O what invaluable privileges are contained in this blessedness!

2. They are blessed in their death.

(J. Hay, D.D.)


1. The Gospel is intended to make us blessed, because He, in whose will it has originated, is full of compassion, and announces that here His compassion has had its richest and most determinate exercise.

2. It is fitted to make us blessed; for the same God, whose compassion prompted it, has also contrived all its arrangements and operations, and the infinite wisdom which belongs to Him must have so adapted the means to the end as effectually to secure whatsoever it designs.

3. It is sure to make us blessed; its machinery being moved, and its effects being produced, by the power to which all opposition is feeble, and before which all difficulties vanish away.

4. It is known to make us blessed; for we have only to appeal to the experience of the Church in every successive age, and in every variety of its features, in proof of the fact that the Gospel has done for its disciples what nothing else has been able to accomplish — has put a joy into their hearts, and shed a brightness over their prospects, beyond all that worldly minds have experienced or conceived.


1. That the Gospel is communicated to us. And why is this annunciation requisite? Because the plan of saving mercy which it unfolds clearly embraces the character as well as the condition of the sinner; and this connection is so close, and of such a nature, that the condition of the sinner cannot become what his safety requires it to be, unless the character of the sinner is made to undergo a corresponding change. And this change cannot take place without the concurrence of his will, and that movement among all the affections and principles of his moral frame which presupposes him to be acquainted with what the Gospel demands of him, as well as with what the Gospel has effected for him.

2. That we attend to the Gospel and understand it. The blessedness flowing from the Gospel is to be received and enjoyed, not by chance or according to human fancy and caprice, but in a certain instituted way. There is a plan by which this blessedness is secured for the sinner, so far as to be brought within his reach: and there is a plan by which it is made over to him as an actual and personal attainment. If this plan be not studied and comprehended, how can any individual so betake himself to it, and so make use of its provisions, and so submit to its direction and influence, as that he may reasonably expect to derive the benefits by which it will contribute effectually to his safety and his happiness?

3. That we welcome, believe and obey the Gospel.

(A. Thomson, D. D.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD. They "know the joyful sound" — the Gospel.

1. The trumpet in the year of Jubilee announced that all captives and slaves were to be set at liberty: and is not the Gospel's "joyful sound" a universal proclamation of "liberty to the captives"? But to what description of captives? To all sinners — to all mankind.

2. The debtors also heard with joy the cheering sound of the jubilee trumpet, for they, too, were set at liberty when it was heard. And who are the debtors to whom the "joyful sound" of the Gospel proclaims a like release? Which of us have not broken God's holy law, and failed to render to Him the debt of gratitude and obedience that is our rightful due and reasonable service?

3. The jubilee trumpet also announced that all who had forfeited or mortgaged their possessions were to be restored to their full right to them. Similar was our state; and similar also is the "joyful sound" of the Gospel.


(J. L. F. Russell, M.A.)

They shall walk, O Lord, in the. light of Thy countanence
The psalmist has been dwelling in magnificent language upon some of the attributes of God. The pillars of His throne are justice and judgment; "mercy and truth go before His face." He cannot say anything about that surpassing brightness that fell on the two heralds. The sunshine can only be spoken of as "the people's blessedness" that hear the "joyful sound," the sound of the great name; "they shall walk in the light."

I. "WALKING," A SIMPLE METAPHOR OF PRACTICAL LIFE. Our knowledge of our Father's character should make common life radiant. We should have continual consciousness of that sunny presence in all occupations. God has done His part, we must do ours, and determine whether that knowledge shall lead us into habitual, happy fellowship with Him. Life with God, for God, in God, is "walking in the light of His face." We may choose the sunny or the shady side of the road. Does that name steal into our hearts like sweet, beguiling melody? Hard it is, but possible, to "set the Lord always before us." They who walk in the light are surely blessed.

II. Such a walk is A WALK IN GLADNESS. Light is the emblem of joy. Two landscapes: — Winter, black fortress, grey rocks, dreary moor, dismal black tarns among the heather. Summer changes it into a dream of beauty. Our lives may be either; in the dark, cloudy days the light will break through many a chink in the cloud; men may not see it, but the eye, purged by faith, can behold it. Tropical sky not half as beautiful as ours. Nobody knows what brightness is until they have seen the gilded thunder-cloud; nobody knows God's presence until in the hour of darkness.

III. "WALKING IN THE LIGHT" IS GUIDANCE. No promise of infallible illumination, but those near God catch the wisdom that removes all clouds from our vision. If we dwelt nearer Him we should less often be in perplexity. "I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness."

IV. LIGHT PURIFIES — WE SHOULD LEARN OUR FAULTS (Psalm 90:8). That flashing brightness may be a terror or a joy (Psalm 139:23). An advantage, that every sin He sees shall be manifested also to us. Secret faults do most harm. A little defect may be the leak through which all our gladness ebbs away. Be thankful if you find it; refer all actions and habits to Him, and the light will reveal the evil. Nothing foul can live in that presence.

V. LIGHT BLEACHES; "walk in the light," and the blood will "cleanse from all sin."

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

The out-and-out Christian is a joyful Christian. The half-and-half Christian is the kind of Christian that a great many of you are — little acquainted with the joy of the Lord. Why should we live half-way up the hill, and swathed in mists, when we might have an unclouded sky and a visible sun over our heads? If we would only climb higher, we should walk in the light of His face.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

An English manufacturer of colours could not produce the beautiful carmine tint for which a French competitor was famous, so he went to Lyons, in France, and agreed to pay the Frenchman a thousand pounds for his secret, he was shown through the factory, and everything was explained to him. But the Englishman saw nothing different from his own way of making colours, and thought he had been deceived, and that the secret had been kept from him. "Stay," said the Frenchman, "don't deceive yourself — what kind of weather is this? A bright, sunny day," replied the Englishman. "And such are the days," said the Frenchman, "on which I make my colours. Were I to attempt to manufacture it on a dark or cloudy day, my results would be the same as yours. Let me advise you to make carmine on bright, sunny days." And is it not thus with your own life and character? You cannot get the best results without the sunshine of God's smile and blessing. One of the principal things the Bible tells us to do is "to walk in the light."

(A. H. Lee.)

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