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"...the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).
What is the joy of the Lord? Is it joy that there is such a Lord? For we cannot realize His existence without joy. Or, is it joy that He is our Lord? For possession is a fruitful source of joy Or, again, is it joy that He has imparted to us, and shed abroad in our hearts by His Spirit? Or, lastly, is it His own joy which is our strength? We feel no doubt that, while all these sources of joy are ours, it is to the last of them that this passage specifically refers.
John 15:11 refers to our Saviour's joy in fruit-bearing through His branches. It was His will that His joy might remain in them; and that consequently their joy might be full. Here we see the joy of the Lord distinguished from the joy of His people.
In Hebrews 12:2, we have the joy of the Lord in the redemption of His people-joy to despise the shame and endure the cross. It was strength for self-sacrifice.
In Zephaniah 3:17, we have the joy of the Lord in the possession of His purchased inheritance. Oh, how wonderful is this joy! "He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing."
It is the consciousness of the threefold joy of the Lord--His joy in ransoming us--His joy in dwelling within us as our Saviour and Power for fruitbearing--and His joy in possessing us, as His Bride and His delight; it is the consciousness of this joy which is our real strength. Our joy in Him may be a fluctuating thing: His joy in us knows no change.