Whether we were this psalm’s first readers or its most recent, all of us yearn for the joy that we cannot create on our own, the joy we only receive as a divine gift. When we don’t experience that grace, we try to achieve it, pursuing whatever promises happiness, climbing whatever ladders that we think will lead us to it.
The psalmist redirects us to the source of true joy. When we see God as the active presence in our lives who restores and provides for us, we dream, laugh, and shout for joy. We will experience what the psalmist describes: The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced (v. 3). This was the psalmist’s story when the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion (v. 1).
So when the psalmist’s people are also experiencing brokenness and weeping, the poet reminds them again of God’s power to restore. The psalm moves from praise and adoration for the ways God has led them to joy to the prayer that God will restore them again, pouring grace upon the people like the watercourses in the Negeb (v. 4).
Sometimes our prayers resemble the first half of this psalm. Our joy is full and we recognize the grace that surrounds us. At other times, we long for God to transform our pain into abundant joy. Both halves of this song feed each other. Both rely on the truth that the joy which satisfies the soul always comes from God.
Which part of this psalm speaks to your current situation?
God, when we see your work in and around us, help us proclaim your gifts joyfully. When we long for your help in times of need, help us remember your steadfast power to restore our joy. Remind us that our help comes from you. Amen.