In writing our first in the series of Discovering the Bible: Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, we dug into the familiar passage of Psalm 1. Immediately, my heart began a consistent prayer, Lord, make me a strong Psalm 1 tree! The first time I read that psalm, evn as a child, I knew I wanted to be one of those trees that no storm, no wind, no natural disaster could topple– but reflecting on the Psalm now, more than 50 years later, I see through life experience, just HOW MUCH we need God to help us become that strong, stable, Psalm 1 tree– and live a life He can bless!
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)
So when writing Discovering Joy in Philippians, God reminded me that joy in HIM is the pathway to strength in life. My assignment was to help others, as they studied Philippians, to connect to God in a personal and powerful way, so that through God’s Word, their lives could also be fortified by the Almighty.
In Nehemiah 8:10, we see a straightforward statement:
The JOY of the Lord is your strength (Neh 8:10)
Elliot’s commentary shares, “This beautiful sentence is, literally, delight in Jehovah is a strong refuge.”
In my personal study notes, after looking up key words, I have:
The JOY (gladness and rejoicing) of the Lord (Yahweh) is your strength (place of safety, protection, defense, a fortress, refuge and stronghold)
The Israelites in this story, were being led by Nehemiah and the priest Ezra, to rebuild the wall to protect the temple after being in exile (for their disobedience). Nehemiah give them meaningful work that honored God, Ezr gave them meaningful worship and call ed them to stand and listen to the Word of God.
The people realized they had drifted from God, and so were in grief and mourning. But their wise leaders knew that after repentance, staying in a state of shame, guilt and despair would be counter productive to finishing the wall and to their future calling to walk out being God’s chosen, anointed, people. So Ezra commanded them to stop grieving and celebrate!
In celebration and worship of God, we too can find strength!
Today, follow the footsteps of strength, do one or more of the following:
- Repent of your disobedience, drifting, or defiance of God or God’s Word
- Listen to the Word (on audio, on You Tube, in church, on radio or podcast. )
- Worship God through song and celebration.
In doing these, you will discover a strength building in your life too.
Pam Farrel is Co-Director of Love-Wise, with her husband, Bill, who she has been JOYously married to for 40 years. She is also author of 48 books, and an international speaker. She enjoys time with her far-flung family, and kayaking to get her mail from her live aboard boat in Southern Ca.