“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (ESV) Psalm 16.11From David King
What are those moments when you feel as if you will burst with joy? For me, with the sun streaming in the window as I type, I feel a bubbling start in my spirit. It’s a bit like watching milk being heated. It starts with just a few bubbles – eventually they meet in a circle around the pan – then some big bubbles appear – and before you know it you are snatching the pan off the cooker as the milk bubbles over.
This is a picture of the joy of which the psalmist speaks in Psalm 16. It is an extravagant joy, an eternal joy, a fullness of joy. It’s that last phrase which really resonates with me (the NIV has it as “fill me with joy”). To be full means to lack nothing. To be full means that there is no part of me that isn’t filled with joy. Here’s the rub: we know joy, but we’ve never known this fullness of joy.
Where is this joy and how do we find it?
David in this psalm tells us that it is found in the Lord. It is in his presence that we are filled with joy. It is at his right hand that we know pleasures forever more. I had a glimpse of this joy the other day when I was weighed down with cares and concerns and felt the pressure of my responsibilities. As I was walking along, light suddenly broke upon me. Not actual physical light, but the light of realising that all my Lord asks of me is to be faithful with what he has given me – that he is the one who carries the responsibilities. It was like light breaking through the window and filling the room.
One of the ways to find this joy is to move from the things we enjoy to the one who is joy. This is the practice of taking the things which give us pleasure and moving through them to God. So, when we enjoy the pleasure of a lovely meal, we can move through the meal to the one who gave that meal to us: “Thank you Lord for this food, thank you that you have given me taste buds to savour it, thank you that you have turned such an essential need into a great pleasure to be enjoyed. How wonderful you are, that you daily give me moments of pleasure and joy – what a joyful and exuberant Lord you are!”
Ultimately though, David tells us that this joy is found in the Lord’s path of life. It is in the faithful following after his word that we will move past the transitory pleasures of this life to the eternal fullness of pleasure and joy that is found in the Lord. There is no other way. To choose another path will lead to pleasures that turn to dust in our mouths, but to choose his path (with all of its challenges) is to find a pleasure that bubbles up and bubbles up until it overflows.