You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalm 16:11
David certainly had a radically different view of God than we often do. For him, to know God was to know unsurpassable and everlasting joy. His pursuit of God was not fear-driven or duty-driven, though certainly a healthy fear of God and a correct sense of duty were foundational characteristics of his worship. However, the core of his intimacy with God was “fullness of joy”; it was the result of having known “the path of life”.
It makes me wonder. How often do we approach God as a chore, as some burdensome religious task that we do to ease our nibbling conscience. A few words of prayer, peppered with chewed up “worship” words. Maybe to get us in the “mood” a little, feel like we’ve been “spiritual” for the day. We’ve “felt”.
And yet, David tells us that in the presence of God there is “fullness of joy”. Fullness. Nothing lacking. Not the kind of fleeting, fast-expiring joy that we seek from the mundanity of our everyday life. Not the cheap thrills that we spend money and energy to experience on a daily basis. This is a deep, profound, and above all, everlasting joy that comes from an equally deep and profound intimacy with God. It’s the kind of joy that makes all others look hollow and disappointing. It’s the kind of joy that can lead us with a passion away from the quick and pointless thrills of habitual sin.
But: It’s not joy that David was after, and neither should we. We’re not called to go hard after joy; we’re called to go hard after God. Knowing Him more and more, we discover joy becomes an inescapable and indelible reality of our lives in Christ.