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Summary: A study of joy vs. happiness and the scriptural support that joy is not subject to emotions or external stimuli.

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Scripture Ref: Psalm 71:23 (quickview)  Romans 15:13 (quickview) 

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 (quickview) , 7:6, 11:9 John 15:10-11 (quickview) , 16:24, 17:13

Proverbs 14:13 (quickview)  Psalm 16:8-11 (quickview) 

Job 20:5 (quickview)  Acts 2:28 (quickview) 

Other Ref: Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

New Bible Dictionary, 1996

The New Topical Textbook

1. Introduction

a. Read Psalm 71:23 (quickview) —I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have redeemed me. (NLT)

b. Inspired by this passage from the book of Psalms, at the age of 55 Dr. Henry J. Van Dyke, a Presbyterian minister, penned the words to a now-familiar, greatly loved hymn:

Joyful, joyful we adore Thee,

God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,

Opening to the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,

Drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness,

Fill us with the light of day.

c. Set to the music of Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the hymn swells with love and majesty in both word and music.

(1) Why didn’t Van Dyke write “Happy, happy, we adore thee?”

(2) Why don’t I feel happy every time I sing it.

d. Secular teachings have led us to believe the words “joy” and “happy” are interchangeable, when in fact, they are not.

e. I may not always be happy, which is subject to my emotions and external stimuli; but, I am always joyful in the Lord.

f. This morning, we will first study the difference between joy and happiness, and then we will study what the Bible has to say about joy.

2. Joy vs. Happy

a. Webster’s defines happy as:

(1) 1990 Collegiate Dictionary: (1) favored by luck or fortune—fortunate, (2) notably well adapted or fitting, (3) enjoying well-being and contentment—joyous.

(2) 1828 Dictionary: Being in the enjoyment of agreeable sensations from the possession of good; enjoying pleasure from the gratification of appetites or desires. The pleasurable sensations derived from the gratification of sensual appetites render a person temporarily happy; but he only can be esteemed really and permanently happy, who enjoys peace of mind in the favor of God. To be in any degree happy, we must be free from pain both of body and of mind; to be very happy, we must be in the enjoyment of lively sensations of pleasure, either of body or mind.

b. Webster’s defines joy as:

(1) 1990 Collegiate Dictionary: (1) the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires—delight, (2) a state of happiness or bliss.

(2) 1828 Dictionary: The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits. To rejoice; to be glad; to exult.

c. Are the two terms interchangeable? Perhaps by secular standards, but not by biblical standards. “Happy” is derived from the obsolete root word “hap,” which, according to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, meant “that which comes suddenly or unexpectedly; chance; fortune; accident; a casual event.”


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