I noticed this morning from Psalm 70:4 a helpful, practical connection. The psalmist cries,
May all who seek you,
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
I unabashedly am seeking joy and gladness in God. I wholeheartedly agree with the plea that asks for people, especially myself, to happy glad in God. But what does this look like?
I think the psalmist gives a profound yet plain answer in the fourth line of the verse. Since it is Hebrew poetry, the corresponding, second lines are parallel. They usually either explain the same thing, or expand upon one another. In this case, it could be either. But what is important is that “rejoice and be glad in you” is explained (or expanded) with the idea of saying forever that “God is great!”
So what is the connection? The heart-emotion that leads one to exclaim, “God you are so great! You are strong, beautiful, holy, gracious, and lovely! How great you are!”, is the heart-emotion of rejoicing and being glad in God.
This is quite helpful. It can be vague to command myself or others, “Be glad in God.” But there is more practicality when I command myself, “Recognize and rejoice in how great, beautiful, lovely, and gracious God is!” Wording it this way, I now have something to grab onto. In my pursuit of joy in God, I can begin to think about how he is manifestly great in his word, in the gospel, in evidences in my life. I can fixate my mind on these things.
And then, when I really do this, a miracle happens: I start to feel; I start to have emotions; I begin to “rejoice and be glad in God.” I can achieve joy in God, which is something that, on its own, can seem vague and unattainable.
In this way, I didn’t achieve this joy in God by just telling myself, “Be glad in God!” I think that command is obviously biblical (Psalm 37; Phil. 4), and so there are times when we need to simply be told, “Find your joy in God!” But praise God, in this verse he has given me more practical ways of doing so, namely, purposefully fixating on and declaring his greatness.
In sum, I can more practically and easily fixate on the greatness of God—his sovereignty, grandness, goodness, and love. And as I do this, my emotions, feelings, and heart follow with rejoicing in him.