(This post originally appeared in August 2013)
Psalm 16:11 is definitely one of my most favorite verses. We've already looked at it in another context (the path of life) but today let's focus on the joy part. God tells us in this verse that in His presence is fullness of joy. Psalm 15 tells us how to get into His presence so that we can find that fullness of joy.....
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
I see 10 things in this Psalm that describe the path to joy...
1. Blameless living. Note that I didn't say perfect but blameless. The word used here does not mean unblemished but rather without fault. Big difference. Unblemished would mean that we were without sin.....without fault means that God no longer finds us guilty. That is only possible if we are in Christ. Even if we were to somehow be able to do all the other things listed in this passage, if we are not blameless, then we cannot get into His presence. Therefore, no fullness of joy.
2. Does right. Pretty simple. Does right. When I was a little girl, my Mama's parting words many days would be "You do right, now". I knew exactly what she meant. Do the right thing. I don't know if Mama realized that her counsel was more than just avoiding trouble, it was also the path to joy. Do right.
3. Speaks truth in his heart. Speaking truth in our hearts is more than telling the truth. It's knowing what the truth it....and believing it. Not being deceived. Telling ourselves the truth. Since we behave what we believe, this results in speaking...and living...the truth. We need to ask the Lord frequently to show us any areas where we are not speaking the truth in our hearts so that He can remove the deceit....so that we can walk the path to joy.
4. Next thing that leads us to fullness of joy is to not slander other people. News flash - what we do to others affects our own measure of joy. Slandering others - saying things that reduce another's opinion of someone - is not the path to joy. Even though we might be tempted to think so in the short term. My husband often tells our children that there are two ways a tree can feel tall-- grow tall itself or cut down all the other tall trees in the forest so that it can feel tall in comparison. Point made.
5. Interesting how the psalmist separates speaking evil and doing evil. Making a double point, perhaps? One who wants to live in joy does not take revenge, do harm, or fail to pay the debt of love we owe to others. Tall order.
6. Does not take up reproach. The word means not to blame others. Sounds like forgiveness, doesn't it? Path to joy....forgiveness....connection.....
7. In whose eyes a vile person is despised. That doesn't sound right! Aren't we supposed to love everyone???? Yes we are but this verse is commanding us to not place value on evil things. Very clear connection between loving to be with vile people and lack of joy. Even though sin may seem attractive/desirable and there may be pleasure in sin for a season, it will eventually turn out to bring very undesirable consequences. Proverbs puts it this way - " Stolen bread tastes sweet, but it turns to gravel in the mouth." (20:17). Path to joy -- hate evil. And do not associate with evil people.
8. Honor those who fear the Lord. Loving God's people is for sure one of the best ways to experience fullness of joy. Honoring them -- loving them, serving them, valuing them. I am practically shouting amen at my computer. This is one of the wonderful things in my life -- loving God's people.
9. Swears to his own hurt and does not change. Keeps his word. Even when it's inconvenient. I won't get on a soapbox or anything but I'll just say that my own experience has shown that when a Christian violates this principle, it not only short-circuits his/her own joy, but it also robs other people of joy. Then, I guess, we need to apply principle number 6 - not taking up a reproach.....
10. Last principle for joy given here - not taking advantage of people. Not doing things that can be to my benefit but someone else's detriment.
So, for one who is in Christ, this is the path to joy. If you're lacking in that department, ask the Lord where the problem is. Here's 10 to choose from.
Oh, one last thing to add to our joy. If we do these things, not only will we be full of joy, we will never be shaken. Wow. What a promise!!