Radiant with joy ∙
They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. – Psalms 34:5
1 I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.
2 I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart.
3 Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.
4 I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation, I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Ella Wheeler Wilcox was an American author and poet. Her most enduring work was “Solitude.”
The poem’s inspiration came as she traveled by train in Wisconsin. A young woman dressed in black sat across the aisle from her, crying. Miss Wheeler sat next to her and sought to comfort her. At the journey’s end, her emotions were mixed. She shared in the woman’s sorrow, yet at the same time, her own face was radiant. She wrote the opening lines of Solitude.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
Life is about choices. Our life course is set by how we respond to our vicissitudes and trials.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox also wrote, The Set of the Sails.
The Set of the Sails
One ship drives east, and another west
With the self-same winds that blow;
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That decides the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As they voyage along through life;
‘Tis the will of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
Life’s ups and downs can often catch us off guard. Encountering strife and struggle is inevitable. However, our reaction to these challenges shapes our outlook and emotional state. In times of difficulty, David encourages us to express joyful praise. By doing so, David shows the way to serenity, self-assurance, bravery, and triumph over our innermost emotions and forebodings.
REFLECT & PRAY
Experiencing the Father’s presence produces an excited joy that cannot be contained. David bursts out with exclamations of praise.
Father may I learn and perfect the art of praising and thanking You daily. Remove the dark shadows of shame and fear that haunt me and replace them with radiant joy.
Psalms 34 is not simply a prayer. It is an exclamation of joy over the Father’s response to prayer. David has experienced the sheer joy of the presence of the Father. It is palpable. David is radiant. His heart is thrilled and overflowing with joy. Radiant is also found in Isaiah 60:5, describing a parent’s face lighting up at the sight of their children, who had been given up for lost (Kidner).
Isaiah 60:5 Your eyes will shine, and your heart will thrill with joy.
The Hebrew word translated as shine or radiant is nahar. Nahar literally means to shine brightly. Metaphorically, it depicts joyful pleasure, beaming with light from an effervescent countenance. In the Old Testament, it results from the Father’s light shining on people or people gazing at Him.
This happened to Moses at Mount Sinai when he received the Ten Commandments.
Exodus 34:29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the LORD.
The Hebrew word translated as thrill with joy or become joyful and glad or tremble and rejoice is pachad. This word depicts the quivering sensation of being startled. The resultant law causes the heart to flutter or beat rapidly. Pachad reflects a range of emotions, such as extreme happiness, joy, and gladness, as well as trembling and trepidation. It conveys various feelings, including intense joy, happiness, and pleasure. There is a mixture of trembling with excitement and rejoicing. Pause momentarily and visualize what happens when startled; your heart flutters and beats rapidly.
Psalms 34:5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy.
Visualize being present with David as he expresses his thoughts aloud. His words are brimming with eagerness and zeal and having experienced an inward spiritual connection with the Father. He relishes the experience with great pleasure and is insatiable in his desire to absorb it all. Although his expression may seem subdued and ordinary, it is far from dull and bland. He is bursting at the seams with joy and excitement.
Psalms 34:2 My soul will make its boast in the LORD.
But there is more. Restraints are gone and replaced by a sense of temporary madness. We may make fools of ourselves in a good sense. So Paul exclaims, “We are fools, for Christ’s sake” – 1 Corinthians 4:10. In the 21st century, it would be equivalent to the thrill of cheering for your home team when they score a touchdown at an athletic event. His soul is literally jumping up and down as he basks in the Father’s presence (Terrien).
His joy is contagious, and he cannot keep it to himself. It erupts out of him. It must be shared. David invites us to participate with him. Each of us can enter into the presence of the Father and the joy He offers.
How does David become so buoyant? How does he do it? It all begins with praise and thankfulness for who the Father is, what the Father does, and most importantly, what the Father has done for us. He shouts of the Father’s greatness and exults in Him.
Putting it in other terms, David magnifies and blesses the Father. How can a mere mortal bless God?
“The idea behind ‘bless’ is to speak a good word about someone: when God blesses someone, he speaks a good word over that person for his well-being; when a human blesses God, he speaks a good word about God’s kindness and generosity” (ESV notes).
Paul succinctly restates the same concept in one verse. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Even if it’s not your practice, pick a day this week and praise God throughout the day. Praise Him when you wake up, praise Him when you eat, praise Him when you leave the house and when you return” (Stanley).
© Dr. H 2023