Summary: James raises a question about Christians being merry which implies that Christians should be people with joy in their heart and then James exhorts Christians to sing to show that joy.


1. Open your bible to James 5:13b.

2. In a previous lesson we discussed the first part of this verse, which teaches the importance to prayer.

3. In this lesson we will discuss the importance of Christians being “cheerful” and the importance of Christians “singing”.



1. Let’s read James 5:13b, “Is anyone cheerful [KJV “merry”]? Let him sing psalms [ASV “praise”].”

2. The “cheerfulness” or “being merry” that James is talking about is not that of a frivilous, playful, unserious – just having a big time nature.

3. For a few moments let’s look at a few types of “merrymaking” that is not pleasing to God. The few examples are not what James is talking about.

(1) Turn to 1 Samuel 25:36a. This refers to a person named Nabal that had a feast and during that feast got drunk and became merry. God condemns this form of merry making. In the O. T. there are a lot of bible passages that bear record of this sinful way of becoming merry. Let’s read 1 Sam. 25:36a, “36 Now Abigail went to Nabal {Abigail was the wife of Nabal}, and there he was, holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk…”

(2) Turn to 1 Kings 21:7-10. This passage tells of King Ahab becoming extremely sad because Naboth would not sell or trade him Naboth’s vineyard. Ahab becomes sullen and stretches across his bed and will not eat. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel tells Ahab to be cheerful because she is going to have false accusations made against Naboth and have him killed. Jezebel tells Ahab that will give him reason to be cheerful. Certainly, we all know that we don’t want to do anything like this to become cheerful or merry. Let’s read 1 Kings 21:7-10, “7 Then Jezebel his wife said to him, “You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”8 And she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth. 9 She wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth with high honor among the people; 10 and seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, “You have blasphemed God and the king.” Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die.” This horrible deed was carried out and Ahab and Jezebel were made cheerful. How sad!

(3) Turn to Luke 12:19-21. In this parable Jesus tells a rich farmer that had bumper crops and was going to tear down his old barns and build bigger barns and have a merry time. God spoke out to him and told him that he was going to die and his soul would pay the price for his selfishness. Let’s read Luke 12:19-21, “19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

1) Jesus makes this parable apply to everyone who tries to find cheerfulness and merry making in the wrong ways.

2) There are many other examples in the bible that illustrate the wrong way to find cheerfulness and happiness, but these examples should be enough warn against being cheerful while doing sinful things.

5. Let’s now look a few passages that illustrate the kind of cheerfulness that God approves of.

(1) Turn to Proverbs 15:13. This passage teaches that being “merry” and “cheerful” within our inner man will be expressed by smiles and our outward expressions. This verse also teaches that an unhappy person will live a miserable life. Let’s read Proverbs 15:13, “13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”

(2) Drop down to the last part of Proverbs 15:15, “…But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” This reminds us that a scripturally cheerful person can be cheerful in prison as well as in a palace. Inwardly, the cheerful person looks on the positive side of life. When this person, figuratively, receives lemons, he doesn’t just think about how sour a lemon is, he quickly turns sour situations into good tasting lemon aid.

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