“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
“Joy to the World, the Lord Is Come!”
(Please read Psalm 96:10-13 and Luke 2:8-14)
This song by the great Isaac Watts first appeared in a book he published, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, in 1719. Some writers think he based the song on Psalm 98, but we tend to agree with others who conclude that he found his inspiration in the Psalm 96 verses cited above. And although the account in Luke 2 does not say the angels “sang,” it seems reasonable to conclude that that is exactly what the “host of heaven” did when they brought “good news of great joy” to the shepherds on that wondrous night.
So Psalm 96 seems to be happy anticipation of the coming of the Savior to the earth. The psalmist calls for the universal proclamation that God is king, and the world will be established under the reign of God, who will judge all people righteously. Thus the angels over Bethlehem heralded the kingdom of Jesus, or Immanuel, “God with us.” And now Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, rules over both heaven and earth, which is cause for joy in both realms. Psalm 96 figuratively attributes rejoicing even to inanimate objects — the sea and the fields and everything in them, and all the trees of the forest.
We get the picture. Not since the creation, when “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7, NIV), had there been such occasion for celebration and happiness. This is a good thing to remember today as we think on the birth of Jesus.