Joyful Praise

In learning how to pray and sing joyfully, it is very useful to examine the way other people have expressed their rejoicing. Some good examples to view are Hannah, Mary and of course Jesus (Lk. 10:21).  Although Christ was truly a man of sorrows, he also rejoiced. Paul emphasized this part of Christ’s character when he wrote, ‘rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!’, Php 4:4. James emphasized it saying, “is anyone cheerful, he should sing praises! Jas. 5:13. But even when we are sad, it is wise to look for a reason to rejoice, Jas. 1:2. Why does God put such an emphasis on rejoicing? What makes God’s children rejoice?   

Hannah: (1Sam.1:27) She was convinced God heard her prayer and answered it positively! “Samuel” means “God hears”. Do we really believe this? After Samuel had been born, she considered the event as her ‘salvation’ 2:1. Do we come through life threatening events with a stronger faith in the Lord’s mercy or grace?  The holiness of God (2:2) was made personal in Hannah’s life, she saw her pregnancy, labor and weaning as God’s work, it was all holy and she felt she was privileged to be used by Him. Do we count the Lord’s work in service to each other as holy and a special divine privilege? She knew God was omniscient and was in control of the future, Samuel’s birth seemed to prove to Hannah that God knew (2:3) exactly how events would transpire to exalt his maid-servant and the baby’s future. Are we equally confident about God’s knowledge and control of our own future? James 1:5. She saw how God humbled the mighty and exalted the lowly (2:4-8) and it made her happy enough to sing about it. See Matthew 23:11-12. This is exactly what makes Jesus happy too, Luke 10:19-22. Oddly enough, he is only recorded as actually singing just before his betrayal during his last night with his closest disciples, Mt. 26:30. But we know Jesus must have sung during the Jewish Feasts he attended throughout all his life on earth (Psalms 108-118). The joy of Jesus is taught upon in John 15:1-12, and it is founded upon growing the fruit of His Spirit like a branch should do being grown from the true vine that provides divine love. In order for us to experience the joy of Jesus we must be more than acquainted with God’s love, it must be growing from within our heart so much, that it spills out in service to one another, Galatians 5:22-23. Hannah couldn’t hold her happiness in because she was certain of God’s care for His children, (2:9) See Psalm 37:23 & Jer. 10:23. Jesus taught us that we should pray that we will not be led into temptation, Mt. 6:13. When we fully realize that our happiness depends on God’s direction of our steps in daily life, then His happiness will overflow in praise and prayer. 

Mary: (Luke 1:46-55) In some ways, Mary’s song is almost verbatim repeating Hannah’s song. The holiness of God is reiterated because Mary is overwhelmed by the privilege of her position in giving birth to the Messiah. Mary must have had knowledge of Isaiah 7:14 and could rejoice in the insight of seeing herself helping God fulfil prophecy, Matthew 1:18-23. Mary reasoned that if God could bring baby Jesus into the world through her as a virgin in poverty and risk, then He could easily help her and Joseph to raise Jesus into the acclaimed Messiah God wanted for the world. This filled her with joy! She was convinced that her baby was the seed promised to Abraham, Gen. 15:1-6, Gal. 3:16-18. Do we really believe that God uses us to exalt the lowly and humble the proud? When we see this as Jesus does, we will experience the joy of the Holy Spirit.

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