Psalm 51, John 3:27–29 (read online ⧉)
This Psalm is the result of a person’s sin. This is not to say that the Psalm is about the sin per se, but about a person standing before God after being confronted about the sin. While there is a lot of symbolism in the Psalm the symbols reflect a heart that recognizes the wrong done. Note there are no excuses. It is what it is. How many times have you confessed a sin and then surrounded it with excuses? What is interesting here is that a request to hear joy is made. This is not a request to be able to make a joyful noise. This is a request—a plea—to hear God’s joy in life, and the joy of those who surround God. The Psalm makes a turn from repentance and sorrow to, basically, asking to not be cast away from God’s presence.
While there is a penalty that goes along with what was done, restoration was still completed. There was joy again. Often we cannot find joy because there is something in our hearts that keeps out of the presence of God. Whether that something resulted in shame or sin or what have you, something may indeed be keeping you from even going toward the presence of God.
John the Baptist alludes to Jesus and his bride in this short passage from the Gospel of John. Who is Jesus’ bride? The church. Who is the church? We all are. John is filled with joy that the groom (whom John calls his friend) gets the bride! Jesus’ marriage as the joyful culmination of his ministry. What makes this interesting, too, is that the marriage is a “not yet” scenario. That means that while John the Baptist is speaking in the present, John (the writer of the Gospel) is looking toward the future, when Jesus returns.
1) Why does John the Baptist tie joy to the marriage of the groom (Jesus)?
2) How can we say that joy is fulfilled or complete in marriage in the light of the tensions in our own marriages, and the divorces that ravage the church and the world?
3) How could being or not being in God’s presence affect your joy?