O the Joy

An original worship song based on Psalm 40:1-5.

O the Joy
Words and music by Tim Northup

Patiently i waited on the Lord
And he turned to me
And he heard my cry
Patiently i waited on the Lord
And he turned to me
And he heard my cry

O the joy of trusting in the Lord
Not in men or patterns of this world
O he puts a new song on my lips
All will see the glory of the Lord
All will see the glory of the Lord

He lifted me up from the miry clay
Onto solid ground
And he showed the way
He lifted me up from the miry clay
Onto solid ground
And he showed the way

O the joy of trusting in the Lord
Not in men or patterns of this world
O he puts a new song on my lips
All will see the glory of the Lord
All will see the glory of the Lord

O my God you do miracles
And your plans toward us are good
There is none who can rival you
Full of wonder, rich in grace

O the joy of trusting in the Lord
Not in men or patterns of this world
O he puts a new song on my lips
All will see the glory of the Lord
All will see the glory of the Lord

Whose Hope Is the LORD

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Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the LORD.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Jer 17:5-8, NKJV)

Jeremiah was a prophet in Judah before the Babylonian exile. His ministry began when he was a young man, from around 626 BC during the reign of king Josiah, to around 587 BC when Judah fell to Babylon. Jeremiah 17 is part of God’s prophecy about the destruction of Judah. The people of Judah were living in sin, worshipping the gods of other nations, a direct violation of the commandments God gave Israel. So, God prophesied against Judah, that they would be invaded and taken into exile, for their refusal to repent and turn back to God.

In Jeremiah 17:5, God describes one of the major issues that has plagued humanity since Adam and Eve: willful rejection of God’s ways and our selfish ambition to live by our own rules. God says, “cursed is the man who trusts in man.” When God says the person is cursed, God is not revealing some kind of new wrath against humanity. God is repeating the same message He has been warning us about since Adam and Eve: whoever chooses to go their own way and live apart from God lives under the condition of a spiritual curse.

What does this cursed lifestyle look like? God explains, “he makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD.” Very clear, very simple. If you trust in human strength, wisdom, or power—your own, other people, the government, academia, or whatever—instead of God, you are choosing to live under the spiritual curse.What does the curse look like? In verse 6, God explains, “he shall be like a shrub in the desert.” I lived in Yuma, Arizona for three years. Desert shrubs are dry, brittle, and prickly. They have almost no fruit, they give almost no shade, they’re constantly struggling to survive and their growth is stunted. If you turn your back on God, that’s what your spiritual life looks like. Everything may look and feel great on the outside, but your soul is spiritually parched, barely surviving in our dry, cruel world.

In Jeremiah 17:7, God describes how He created us to live in relationship with Him. God says, “blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD.” When God made Adam and Eve, He gave them one rule: do not eat from a specific tree. Why did he give them that rule? To test them, yes. But in that test, they had to trust God and not rely on their own understanding. That’s where the serpent got them to doubt God. That’s where the Enemy attacks us. And that’s how humanity broke the world through sin.

What does trusting God look like? God explains, “whose hope is the LORD.” Now, biblical hope is not like our modern idea of hope. When we say we hope for something, it’s a wish, “oh, I hope I get that new job or that new car.” There’s no confidence, no security. The biblical idea of hope is different. The person whose hope is God is actively trusting in God, relying on God daily, confident that God will stay true to His promises and secure in God as a refuge from life’s troubles. Biblical hope is confident expectation based on the character of our always loving, never failing, all-powerful God.

In verse 8, God explains what the blessing looks like, “he shall be like a tree planted by the waters.” In the desert, trees grow by the water. If you see trees, you know there’s some kind of water source nearby. A fork of the Colorado River runs through one side of Yuma. And by the river there’s a beautiful park with all kinds of beautiful wooded areas. When the summer heat comes, these trees survive because they have the water source. The trees are fruitful, providing shade, and thriving. When you trust in God, that’s what your spiritual life looks like. Even though the whole world is falling apart around you, The river of life—the Holy Spirit—is flowing through you, nourishing and growing you in the midst of our dry, cruel world.

In John 7, Jesus was in Jerusalem for Passover. Verse 37 begins,

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Jesus is not the Living Water. He is the Rock, stricken for our sins. But when Jesus ascended to heaven, he sent the Living Water, the Holy Spirit, to live in us in a special way according to the New Covenant, comforting us, nourishing us, and making us more like Jesus. Let’s remember and embrace these truths, looking to our Lord Jesus, that we might actively receive the spiritual blessings that the Spirit works in our lives.

Trust in the LORD

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Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm. (Psalm 37:3–8, NKJV)

Psalm 37 is another Psalm of David. We don’t know the particular circumstances around the writing of the Poison, but the  theme of Psalm 37 is a comparison between the Righteous person, who trusts in the LORD, and the Wicked person, who despises God’s ways.

In verses 3–4, David explains that trusting in the LORD begins with delighting in Him. The idea here is for us to take great pleasure in the LORD. His value is beyond measure. So just as we might cherish a precious jewel, we cherish our fellowship with Him above all else. He is our source of joy and self-worth. He names us and calls us His own. So when David writes, “He shall give you the desires of your heart,” there’s two things going on. First, when we delight in the LORD, fellowship with the LORD is our greatest desire and as we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. Second, as we delight in Him and draw near to Him, His ways and His goals become our own. By humbling our hearts and entering His presence, we allow Him to fill us with joy, renew our hearts and minds making us more like Jesus, and guide our way according to His plans instead of our own.

In verses 5–6, David explains trusting the LORD in terms of a commitment to His ways. We know that the world systems are under the sway of the Enemy and all of creation is under the curse of sin. We also know, from the Word and from our own experience that in our hearts we want to live for Jesus, but these bodies of flesh carry our baggage of sin, always enticing us to turn against God’s ways. In our day-to-day lives, the only thing standing between a believer and sin is a commitment to the ways of the LORD. But we have to surrender to two truths. Trusting the LORD doesn’t start with commitment, it starts with delighting in Him, as David mentioned in verses 3–4. Second, commitment is an act of our will, but we are powerless to carry it out on our own strength. As David writes, “He shall bring forth our righteousness.” Indeed, the light in us is not our own, it is Jesus Christ, the light of all men, who covers us with His righteousness and who leads and strengthens us according to His ways.

In verses 7–8, David depicts our trusting in the LORD as resting in Him. Our English word “rest” has different meanings. David isn’t talking about taking a nap or taking a day off to watch Netflix. Now there’s nothing wrong with those things, per se. But the idea here isn’t physical rest, it’s spiritual. “Be still and know that I am God” says the LORD (Ps 46:10). And as David explains here, “Do not fret, … cease from anger, … forsake wrath.” It’s easy to look around us and see the hypocrisy of the world and the flaws in our brothers and sisters in Christ. But God doesn’t want you to change them. That’s His job and we partner with Him in that work primarily through prayer and gracious encouragement. No, God wants each of us to surrender our own hearts to Him so He can change each of us Himself. And He does this by filling us with His Holy Spirit who dwells within us and ministers to our hearts. When we’re sad, He’s with us, comforting us, if we’ll let Him. And when we’re angry, He’s with us, cooling our tempers and speaking His truth to us, if we’ll let Him.

In John 15, Jesus, at His last Passover meal with the Twelve, said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me, you can do nothing.” Jesus was talking in spiritual terms. In this world, without Christ, we can walk around and do this or that, helping people or taking advantage of them or whatever. But it all amounts to nothing apart from Christ. Eternity is real and the LORD wants us to enjoy it with Him. But at the same time, Hell is a very real place of torment created for Satan, the demons, and the fallen angels. If you don’t want to be with Jesus, He won’t make you be with Him. But the only other option is Hell. The beauty of the Cross is that enjoying Christ for Eternity is a gift that Jesus purchased for us and offers to us freely. Salvation cost Jesus an agonizing death by means of crucifixion. But salvation costs us nothing except to trust in Him. And that’s why we celebrate communion, to remember the price He paid at Calvary so that anyone and everyone who trusts in Him can enjoy His presence for Eternity.