Joy Is Active
Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever. For they are the rejoicing of my heart.
– Psalm 119:111
There are no less than 11 verses in Psalm 119 where the psalmist mentions joy, rejoice or delight. Most of us think of joy as nothing more than an emotion. While there are emotional elements within joy, from verse 111 we can see there is more to joy than just a passive feeling.
The term “heritage” is crucial for understanding this verse. We think of heritage as something we are born with, given to us by our ancestors which we did nothing to acquire. This is not the full concept of the term. It is more of the idea of “taking possession” or “ownership” of something which is rightfully yours, but not given to you. It requires some effort on a person’s part to gain possession.
Hence the psalmist says he has “taken” God’s testimonies as his “heritage forever.” This implies at some point in time, though God’s testimonies were available to him, he was not in possession of them and he was determined to gain them.
While I normally ascribe to the Biblical Interpretation theory that the literal reading of the text is probably the most accurate, I doubt the psalmist means he previously didn’t own any Scripture and now that he does, he’ll never let it go. Rather, I think he is trying to communicate he has made the Word more than just an object. The testimonies referenced here have a deep, personal connection to him. At some point previously, he took action to make the Word his and began to see the Word as more than just a written document. He saw it as having personal importance to him in a spiritual way.
I love the description the author of Hebrews uses about God’s Word. He states:
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
– Hebrews 4:12
God’s Word is different than any other document. It is described as “living and powerful” and as the psalmist writes, you can claim it as your own possession.
This is such a unique property of Scripture. While it was written thousands of years ago, it still speaks to us today. It is not just a collection of writings by some long dead civilization, but it is relevant to us in the 21st century.
However, you need to take possession of it, claim the promises of the Word, and act on them.
Joy is active. Waiting around to serve God because your circumstances are less than ideal, does not demonstrate joy.
Blessing My Friend