“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” (Psalm 5:11)
It may seem strange to think of rejoicing as a Christian duty, but the Scriptures do contain many commands to rejoice, and many of these are given in circumstances of grief or danger, as is the case of our beautiful text verse.
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), Paul wrote from a Roman dungeon. In the upper room the night before He was to die on a cross, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). And then He said: “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2). But then He said again: “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
If David could rejoice while fleeing from murderous enemies, if Paul could rejoice while chained unjustly in a Roman prison, if the disciples could experience fullness of joy while facing martyrdom, and if the Lord Himself “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2), then our Christian duty of rejoicing in all circumstances may not be such an unseemly command after all.
We can rejoice, as our text reminds us, “because thou defendest them.” Furthermore, He Himself provides the joy, for “the fruit of the Spirit is…joy” (Galatians 5:22). It is not that the Christian will never know sorrow, for Christ Himself was “a man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). But He also was a man of joy and, in Him, we can be like Him—“as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). HMM