Psalm 33 tells me, “Blessed [joyful, happy] is the nation whose God is the Lord. The people He chose for His inheritance.”
When Ezra read Your Word to the Israelites assembled, they knew that You were their God and they were Your people. And today, any who believe in You as Savior are also Your people. Believers have an inheritance with You. And we are blessed as a nation when we call You our Lord.
The Israelites mourned and wept as they heard Your Word because it convicted them of their sin. As a believer, I also mourn and weep when I read Your Word, because of my own sin and the sin of my nation.
But Nehemiah told them “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
In happy times it is easy for me to say this. When things are going well, I can be joyful. I feel strong. But in this context, the people are not happy. They are grieving, ashamed, broken by their sin. This is when they are told “the joy of the Lord is your strength”.
It is when I have no strength of my own because I am broken, or sad, discouraged, overwhelmed, or depressed – that I look to You and receive Your strength.
I can know that whatever is going on in my life, there is joy when I remember that You are my God, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Comforter, my Friend. Your presence gives me joy and strength. Even in the face of trials, I can look to You.
Your Psalm reminds me I will not be saved by the size of an army, or personal physical strength, or even by a mighty horse. But my hope is in You, my help and my shield. “In You my heart rejoices, for I trust in Your holy name.”
Remind me Father, the next time I am downcast, that my joy and my strength are not based on my circumstances. But are found, sure and steadfast, in You. Amen