READING: Psalm 119:12-16, 22-24, 33-40, 92-94, 111-112, 171-176
It seems appropriate this winter to study some from the OT since these ideas would have found their deepest cultural meanings in the Hebrew language of the story of the Jewish people.
Their common words for “joy” came from the consonantal root “Sh-M-Kh” which meant gladness, blessedness, and merriness of heart. While it could be a momentary or passing feeling, it was often used of events or states of being resulting from ceremonial celebration and thanksgiving in their festivals of worship, the divine gifts of children or crops, victory over enemies, etc.
In other words, the emotional experience resulted from realized forms of blessing given by God as a reward or positive consequence of faithful effort by the people involved. If the happiness came following unfaithfulness or laziness, the “joy” was spoken of negatively as if stolen in arrogance or maliciousness.
What does that mean to you? As you imagine relating to the “joy” of Joseph and Mary during the First Advent, think more of the appropriate pride with humility and thankfulness that comes from a mission accomplished. While circumstances remained difficult and contrary, they could rejoice with each other and a few close family members in their sustained obedience to the prophetic words from the angels. If no one else had confidence in their calling, they held tight to their charge and to each other.
Receive confidence from them, and be JOYFUL in your mission while awaiting his Second Advent!
Mark Hill, pastor