A Joyful Hallelujah

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There is a word that we use in our formal praise of God. That word is ‘Alleluia.’ It has the sound of formality, of honor, pomp and circumstance. But there is a similar word that comes out of us in moments of pure joy and excitement that is full of lightness and the innocent energy of happiness. That word is ‘Hallelujah!’ Hallelujah is the only word that could adequately express the wonder of David as he thinks of the greatness and the infinite goodness of God and all of His glorious works. Indeed, ‘Hallelujah!’ is the word that begins and ends all of the remaining Psalms in the Book of Psalms.

This psalm is written in the acrostic form, meaning that each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is an invitation to us to sing God’s praises along with David. When we look around us with eyes made innocent by faith, we begin to see the unutterable beauty that God has surrounded us with at all times. We see it in the lushness of trees and forests, in the sunlit whitecaps on the waters on a windy, clear day, in meadows blanketed with wildflowers, in the vast, endless landscapes of the desert, in snow-capped peaks backed by cloudless blue skies, in the brilliant rose hews of a sunrise or a sunset. We see it in the endless diversity of nature’s flora and fauna, in the immensity of the night sky with its countless stars. When our eyes are opened by the gift of faith we cannot only see these things more clearly we, more importantly, can begin to see the wonder and the beauty, the greatness and the goodness, of our own being. We begin to see that goodness of God in all things and we begin to see our fellow human beings from God’s point of view. We begin to see that goodness and beauty in every human face, in spite of all of the physical, cultural, and racial differences that often divide us. We no longer see the differences, just the shared humanity.

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It is the graceful, God-given gift of humility that inspires this innocent and true sense of joy in us, as it did in David. A true Christian is always in the process of leaving ego and pride behind and replacing it with growing humility. He or she is learning to submit his or her once selfish and self-centered will to the magnanimous will of God, and is gradually learning the truer happiness that comes from the simple things of life. A Christian is not spared from the realities of suffering. He or she is still touched by pain and loss, but because Christians are daily engaged in a relationship with Christ, they are learning more and more that true happiness comes from loving and serving others, rather than the self. When our love for God grows ever deeper, we begin to be able to see His face in the face of all those we encounter in our daily lives. We no longer see the wounds, the ugliness of diseases or deformities, or the masks of anger and despair, or the disguises of fear. No, we slowly begin to see only the face of Jesus and this becomes the source of our happiness. We gradually come to know what David has come to know here in Psalm 145 when he says, ‘You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.’ This is the reason for our desire to praise the greatness and the goodness of God. This is why we are moved to shout, ‘Hallelujah! ‘ when we rise in the morning and go to be at the end of a long day walking more and more in the Presence of God.

Lord, let our hearts and our mouths sing joyful Hallelujahs to you every day. Help us each day to see your greatness and your goodness, especially on those days when it is hardest because we are caught up in our own suffering. Help us, even then, to know that you have created us, and all things, in beauty and in love. Help us to grow in the virtue of humility as we journey ever closer to you. You are are Father and we are the children of your heart and of your making. Hallelujah! Amen.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.