Monday, December 7, 2015

Joy to the World!

When Isaac Watts was young, his father was imprisoned for noncomformist views (he would not support the established Church of England).  Isaac always remembered his father's courage to stand up for what he believed was right.  In his teenage years, Isaac started to desire that people would sing with more fervency.  Tired of hearing him complaining, his dad challenged Isaac to write something better.  He wrote his first hymn, which was called Behold the Glories of the Lamb, at age 14!  At age 33 he published a collection of hymns and spiritual songs.  Many of his hymns were his reinvention of some of the psalms as he believed David would have written them.  

Today I chose to focus on Isaac Watts' famous Christmas hymn, "Joy To The World", which is meant to reflect the ideas from Psalm 98.   

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Psalm 98:1-3 says, "Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!  His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.  The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.  He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.  All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God."
The Lord's salvation was made known and his righteousness revealed in the birth of His Son Jesus Christ!  God is faithful today as He was in the days of the Psalmist.  All the ends of the earth would be both heaven and nature, as Isaac Watts stated in the hymn - all pointing to and praising God!

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

Psalm 98:4-6 "Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!  Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!  With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
These verses command not only men, but all the earth to sing praises to the Lord, just as Isaac Watts says here, to let men employ songs, while nature repeats the sounding joy of Jesus!

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Psalm 98:7-8 continue to command praise to God from nature: "Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!  Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together ..."  
This may not so clearly match up with Isaac Watts' verse, but when I picture the sea roaring, rivers clapping their hands and hills singing for joy, these are things that would drive away sorrows, and thorns would be no more.  John 1:5 says, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  The coming of Christ brings salavation and light as far as the curse is found!

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Psalm 98:9 finishes this way: "... before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.  He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity."  
God does rule the world with truth and grace, which proves the glories of His righteousness among the nations!  His wondrous love is made known in the revelation of His Son Jesus!