Joy

JOY (שִׂמְחָה, H8525, gladness, mirth; גִּיל, H1637, rejoicing; ἀγαλλίασις, G21, exultation, exuberant joy; χαρά, G5915, delight). The Hebrew words are especially vivid, simhah, the more common, having the root meaning “to shine” or “to be bright,” and gel, seeming to mean to go around or go about, emphasizes activity or motion.

Usage in the Bible

Old Testament

Vocabulary

The idea of joy is expressed in the Old Testament by a wealth of synonymous terms that cannot easily be differentiated. The commonest is simchah (1Sa 18:6, etc.), variously translated in English versions of the Bible "joy," "gladness," "mirth"; from sameah, properly "to be bright," "to shine" (Pr 13:9, "The light of the righteous rejoiceth," literally, "is bright"), but generally used figuratively "to rejoice," "be glad" (Le 23:40 and very frequent).

Other nouns are masos and sason, both from sus, properly "to spring," "leap," hence, "exult," "rejoice"; rinnah, "shouting." "joy"; gil, from verb gil or gul, "to go in a circle," hence, "be excited" (dancing round for joy), "rejoice."

Joy in the Old Testament


There is a general usage of the term joy in the Old Testament, applying to the state of mind in any pleasurable experience. The particular usage, however, is a religious emotion. This is most notable in the Psalms, where it appears as a natural consequence of the individual’s fellowship with God who is the source of joy (Pss 16:11; 51:12). Various attributes and works of God evoke this joy, such as His judgments (Ps 48:11), and His governance over the earth (Ps 97).


Joy and God

Joy is not solely a human quality. God is pictured as rejoicing in His works (Ps 104:31), and delighting in prospering His people (Deut 30:9). God Himself is represented in the Old Testament not as a rigid, impassible Being, but as susceptible to pleasure and pain. God may be conceived of as "rejoicing in his works" (Ps 104:31; compare Ge 1:31), and over His people "for good" (De 30:9). "He will rejoice over thee (Zion) with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing" (Ze 3:17). Such noble and vivid anthropomorphisms are a nearer approach to the truth than the abstract doctrine of the impassibility of God than the Platonic influences which dominated the theology of the early Christian centuries.

New Testament

Vocabulary


Joy in the New Testament


The mighty redemptive works of God, especially the coming of His Son (Luke 2:10), and the Resurrection of Christ (24:41), were causes of joy.

Joy and Jesus Christ


Joy and the Christian life

Joy in the New Testament is not merely an emotion, but a characteristic of the Christian. It is a fruit produced by the inner working of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22), being dynamic rather than static. It is not affected by circumstances however adverse and painful; in fact, joy may be the outcome of suffering for Christ’s sake (Col 1:24).



Bibliography

  • J. S. Banks, “Joy,” HDB, II (1899), 790
  • G. C. Martin, “Joy,” HDCG, I (1906), 903-905
  • E. G. Gulin, Die Freude im Neuen Testament (1932)
  • D. M. Edwards, “Joy,” ISBE, III (1952), 1755
  • J. B. Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament (1962), 417-419
  • S. S. Smalley, “Joy,” NBD (1962), 665, 666.