Sing for Joy!
The Old Testament reading: Psalm 95.1-7 (NASB)
“1 O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods, 4 in whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also. 5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land. 6 Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 7 For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.”
“The train dragged with its human freight. Pressed together like cattle in the crowded trucks, the unfortunate occupants were unable even to move. The atmosphere was stifling. As the Friday afternoon wore on, the Jewish men and women in the Nazi transport sank deeper and deeper into their misery.
“Suddenly an old Jewish woman managed with a great effort to move and open her bundle. Laboriously she drew out two candlesticks and two hallot. She had just prepared them for Sabbath when she was dragged from her home that morning. They were the only things she had thought worthwhile taking with her. Soon the Sabbath candles lit up the faces of the tortured Jews and the song of the Lekah Dodi transformed the scene. Sabbath with its atmosphere of peace had descended upon them all.”
(Isaac Grunfeld, The Sabbath)
This story has a nightmare setting. It is the lowest point in the history of the world. For Isaac Grunfeld, even this most tragic of situations was penetrated by the wonder of the coming King.
Sabbath and the Coming King
This is the Sabbath Supper from “Fiddler on the Roof.” For Jews, the Feast of the Messiah King is every week! Each weekly Sabbath, with joy and anticipation, looks forward to the one great Sabbath in the future when the Messiah will come, and His earthly reign will put all things right. For Christians, the Messiah is Jesus, and His Kingdom has already begun. The Kingdom will be complete when He returns as King.
The coming King in the Psalms
These are the 8 Psalms used in the Jewish Sabbath evening service. They are an inspiration and incredibly refreshing!
Jews believe that each of them, including today’s reading, Psalm 95, tells us something lovely about the Messiah and His kingdom:
- He brings in a new beginning. People are set free from their heavy burdens;
- He is the greatest and most wonderful King. He is the Shepherd King. All is well;
- He makes something happen inside us. He causes to worship Him in a new way, with the whole of our being.
Letting the King work in Me, Now
Even a quick reading of the opening of Psalm 95 reveals the presence of overflowing joy. The writer is not forcing a response from his heart, or making up his enthusiastic delight – it’s as if this unstoppable rejoicing is actually being drawn out of him; it is the LORD calling that joy into existence within the depths of his being. The Hebrew means: he has to make a noise or even, he must blow his trumpet!
We think of this untamed rejoicing as a feature of some distant future horizon, when all our loose ends are tied up, and all our anxieties are finally resolved – but the power of the King within us is for right now!
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life….. they have already passed from death into life.” (John 5.24)
“Alleluia! sing to Jesus!
His the sceptre, his the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph,
his the victory alone.
Hark! the songs of peaceful Zion
thunder like a mighty flood.
Jesus out of every nation
hath redeemed us by his blood.
“Alleluia! not as orphans
are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us,
faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received him
when the forty days were o’er
shall our hearts forget his promise,
‘I am with you ever more’?
“Alleluia! bread of heaven, here on earth our food and stay!
Alleluia! here the sinful flee to thee from day to day.
Intercessor, Friend of sinners, earth’s Redeemer, plead for me.
Where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea.