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
Other Ref: Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
New Bible Dictionary, 1996
The New Topical Textbook
a. Read Psalm 71:23—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.”
d. The New Bible Dictionary says this about joy: In both the OT and the NT, joy is consistently the mark both individually of the believer and corporately of the church. It is a quality, and not simply an emotion, grounded upon God himself and indeed derived from him, which characterizes the Christian’s life on earth, and also anticipates eschatologically the joy of being with Christ for ever in the kingdom of heaven.
e. Our joy and our source of joy is not the result of a chance happening, but rather a divine plan put into motion before time began.
f. The Bible makes strong distinctions between the joy of the wicked (happiness) and the joy of the righteous.
g. Let’s look at both.
3. Joy of the Wicked
a. Is derived from earthly pleasures
(1) Read Ecclesiastes 2:10-11—I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
(a) Solomon searched to find something worthwhile to do. He even experimented, though deliberately and with restraint, not blindly or in uncontrolled excess with sensual indulgence and with what he would otherwise have characterized as a foolish or frivolous lifestyle.
(b) He denied himself nothing through which pleasure might be gained.
(c) The richest and most powerful man who had ever lived in Jerusalem, he surrounded himself with pleasureful objects such as magnificent buildings and vineyards, luxuriant gardens and parks, numerous slaves who were available to serve him, musicians to meet his aesthetic needs, and a large harem to satisfy his physical desires.