Monday, 24 September 2018

GOD GIVES MORE JOY


But we have to be careful here. Both
the Hebrew and the context, for those
of you who don’t read Hebrew, show
that more is being contrasted here
than quantityBut we have to be careful here. Both
the Hebrew and the context, for those
of you who don’t read Hebrew, show
that more is being contrasted here
than quantity. The way the Hebrew
communicates distinction is with the
preposition “from” (min). For example,
in Genesis 3:1, when it says, “The
serpent was more crafty than any
other beast of the field,” it is literally,
“The serpent was crafty from any
other beast of the field.” And we are
left to decide from the context: Is the
craftiness of the serpent distinct from
the other beasts in the quantity of its
craftiness, the frequency of its
craftiness, the subtlety of its craftiness,
the wickedness of its craftiness?

And so it is here in Psalm 4:7, “You
have put joy in my heart from the time
of their abounding grain and wine.”
And we are left to decide from the
context whether this joy that David has
is distinct from the joy of harvest and
wine in quantity, in source , in kind .
And so we are thrown back on the
context where all of us English readers
can do very serious thinking.

The closest contextual clue we have for
how our joy is distinct from the world
is in verse 6, immediately preceding.
There is the prayer, “Lift up the light
of your face upon us, O Lord!” So in
verse 7a, you have David’s
affirmation, “You have put superior
joy in my heart” — superior in some
way, in kind, in source, in amount?
And on one side of this claim you have
the hope of the light of God’s face
shining on David, and on the other
side you have abounding grain and
wine.

And I ask, Why would David put it
together in this way if he didn’t want
us to contrast the joy that comes from
grain and wine with the joy that comes
through the shining of God’s face?
Almost everyone who has lived has
tasted the pleasure of food and drink.
And some societies like ours have a
stunning abundance of food and
drink. We enjoy these pleasures
morning, noon, and night.

But David is claiming that there is
another joy that is not necessarily
attached to having food and drink. It
is a joy that comes from being in the
light of the face of God. This is a new
joy, a new gladness. Verse 3: “The
Lord has set apart the godly for
himself; the Lord hears when I call to
him” (Psalm 4:3). And what the godly
call for in verse 7 is this: “Lift up the
light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
Because this gives a different joy, a
greater joy, than the world has when
their grain and wine abound.

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