An Ode to Joy

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This psalm is truly an ode to joy. It has in it both recognition and decision. The recognition is that God is truly our refuge, that all that we have that is good in this world is from Him alone. He alone is the source of our delight, our ‘portion and our cup.’ The joy that accompanies this recognition is unbounded, and in it we cannot be shaken by the world’s demands or cruelties.

The most intimate recognition, though, comes in verse 7. David realizes that God is always, counseling and instructing him, even at night. And in this recognition he decides to praise God. ‘I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.’ David uses the term ‘heart’ here to imply his conscience. David has come to the realization, in the depths of his being, that God is whispering in his ‘heart’, his conscience, every moment of every day, and every night. So he decides to listen, to keep his eyes always on the Lord for the rest of his life. This is our prayer too.

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David has recognized here that, though he had been a great sinner, God had not abandoned him and that he never would. His heart was filled to overflowing with the joy of that realization and because of that, he could not keep quiet about it. ‘My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices.’ He now knows, and we do too, that God will always, ‘make known to [us] the path of life.’ He realizes that this joy will extend beyond this life too. ‘You will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ In David’s psalm we too come to this realization and are filled with an unbounded desire to praise him.

Lord, fill our hearts with this same joy. Let our tongues and our deeds express that joy for you in the way we live our daily lives with our families, our co-workers, the widows, the orphans and the strangers we meet throughout our days. Make of us joyful instruments of your peace and your forgiveness in this broken and hurting world. Let our lives show that all that is good in this world comes from you alone. We ask this prayer believing in the power of the holy name of Jesus. 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.