Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Much of our lives are spent in sin. We’re tainted with it. No one is good or righteous. It takes just one look at us to see it. When compared to the infinite holiness of God, we should see ourselves like Isaiah saw himself and cry out, “Woe is me!” We need so much grace.
What we don’t deserve from God is a lifetime of favor; we deserve a lifetime of anger. That is not what we receive. There is a time for weeping over our sin. If you have never shed a tear over some sin in your life, it may be that you have never truly felt the grace of the Lord. How can you feel forgiven if you’ve never felt that you needed it in the first place? Yes, we should weep over our sinful state. If you haven’t been there yet, look to the Lord to bring you to that terribly wonderful valley, for it is there that you will be able to look to Mount Zion to see your Savior standing there proclaiming forgiveness over you. It is a grand design of the Lord that in our sorrow for sin we should be set free of it. We are guilty people but our guilt doesn’t define us, his grace does.
When forgiveness comes down from the Lord in the gospel of grace, we sing praises to the Lord. We give thanks to his holy name. We do this individually, yes, but also corporately. It is the Lord who has saved us, together. In God’s economy there is not one human that is better than another – we are all the same sinful people. It is his grace that sets us apart. We experience that grace together. Have you ever stood in the presence of God’s people and sang your heart out in praise to him? The kind of praise that gives you chills, that makes it so you can’t help but smile, that makes you wish it would never end. That’s the kind of praise God gives to us.
It is no chore or duty to praise like that. People redeemed by God can’t help but praise in that way. What in the universe is better than the forgiveness of sins? I can think of only one thing: the Lord who forgives those sins. Only the giver is better than the gift for we see by the gift what the intention of the giver is, and the intention of the Lord in the gift of redemption from sin is joy that comes to us. Real joy, felt joy, outrageous joy, unspeakable joy, ridiculous joy, unfading joy, heart-pumping joy, overwhelming joy, weepingly wonderful joy, freeing joy. The intention of the Lord is to give us joy. He wants our happiness and he gives it by way of entrance into his joy filled kingdom, and because he forgives sin forever, we never, ever have to leave.
The wages of sin is death but the free gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. There is something we are owed, and it’s not eternal life in the joy of the Lord. No, we are owed death. But, because of the goodness of the Lord, what we receive is eternal life. It is a particular kind of eternal life. It is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We know Jesus cannot be anything but filled with joy. Therefore, it stands to reason that because it is in him that our redemption is found, it is his joy that we are inside. This is good news. This is the gospel.
Are you beat down by sin? Good. Know this: weeping will tarry for the night, but in the morning when the Son rises in your heart, you will have nothing but joy. It’s not what we should have but it’s ours because the moment of God’s anger was put on the Savior on the cross and so we get a lifetime of favor. An eternal lifetime of favor.