Short Meditations in Psalms: 4.7 Testimony
Psa 4:7 You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
Quite often with David’s psalms they start off in plaintiff way, then have pleas and declarations of faith and then, and only then, conclude with testimony of the Lord’s answering him and blessing him. In a short psalm like this it is not so easy to discern that structure, so whether this verse is an outcome of the Lord answering him with reassurance or is just a general testimony, is unclear.
It is all about joy, and there are two things that are obvious about it. First it is a work of the Lord: “You have filled my heart with… joy.” The Lord has done it. I note in the New Testament when a person is filed with the Spirit, joy is invariably the first initial fruit and expression of that filling. Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness tends to be linked to a cause, say a sense of wellbeing because everything is going right. Joy can stand on its own and not have a founding cause – apart from the Lord, say. Joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23) and so we should not be surprised that it is a primary expression of being filled with the Spirit.
Now this is so obvious that it should hardly need saying, but anyone who says that Christianity is a killjoy faith (note “killer of joy”) really displays their ignorance of the knowledge of the word of God and the experience of the Lord. Joy occurs many times in the word of God and is a key expression in the life of the believer: “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand,” was how David put it elsewhere (Psa 16:11). The apostle Peter in the New Testament put it, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” (1 Pet 1:8)
Note in both those quotes the words ‘fill’ and ‘filled’. This speaks of joy in abundance – full up! David says in this verse, “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.” The harvest time was a time of great joy when all the provision for the coming year was brought it. Joy, thankfulness and reassurance about the year ahead was in the hearts of the harvesting farmers, almost certainly the time of most joy in the farming calendar – joy in abundance. But, says David, the Lord gives me joy in excess of that harvesting joy.
This reveals a relationship, for us a Christianity that is in no way miserable but to the contrary has got so many good things in it that joy is the natural overflowing emotion of it all. May we each know it.