This Scripture in Psalm 16:11 is so very rich with knowledge. The above is only one third of it. The full verse is a three parter:
You make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence, there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand there are pleasures forever more.
I mentioned this Scripture once before in my study of God's Right Hand. I don't know what made me think of this verse again, but I noticed something in the second part. In God's presence is the FULLNESS of Joy. Joy is complete in God's presence. One is truly happy when one is before God. This idea fascinated me and I wondered if there were other verses like it or that could be tied back to it. So, I went on a hunt for Bible verses that talk about joy being full or joy in God's presence.
Using this text in Psalms 16:11 as our foundation for where Joy is found, let's get started!
Psalm 21:6 states: "For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence."
This chapter in Psalms is talking about the King rejoicing in the Lord's strength. I believe this entire Psalm is a prophecy of Christ as the King of kings, but also of His Church, as we are each kings and priests of God (1 Peter 2:9). But even here, it speaks of God's presence as our Joy. I just find this idea fascinating.
Psalm 84:2 says, "My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God."
It doesn't quite say that God's presence is our Joy, however, it's a bit more poetic in how it says it. Our longing is for the courts of the Lord. We faint for it. It's our hope, our place of rest. And when we are IN His courts, we sing for joy to the living God. We are fainting to get there because that is where Joy is -- in His presence. And even in our flesh, we sing for Joy to Him.
Now we have the famous verse in Nehemiah 8:10 that says the Joy of the Lord is our strength. I've always wondered how having Joy in God can be our strength. But we see from the Psalms that Joy is found in His presence. Therefore our Joy comes from being with Him. And that gives us strength, because nothing is impossible for our God (Luke 1:37).
Then we come to John 15:11, and the very words of Christ Himself. He says here that He's spoken these things so that His Joy may be in us and that it may be full. What is the fullness of Joy we learned from Psalm 16:11? God's presence. This goes beyond Yeshua merely "being with them" in the flesh. When the Holy Spirit indwells us at the moment we're born again, we literally have the living God inside our hearts. He makes us His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). His presence is within us! And because we have His presence with us at all times, our Joy is made full. Think about this for a moment. NO ONE could come into the presence of God in the Old Testament. That was reserved only for the high priest, and only once a year on Yom Kippur when they atoned for Israel's sins as a nation. The high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and come before the very presence of God. But Christ has given us a tremendous GIFT in God's presence, making each one of us priests of God! Not only are we allowed to come before Him in prayer, but He lives WITHIN us! Our hearts are now His Holy of Holies. Amazing. That is why His very presence is fullness of Joy. With Christ's atoning blood covering us, all of God's children can come before Him.
OOO a great verse! Yeshua tells us to ask anything in His name. When we do, our Joy is made full. Why? Because we come into the presence of God to pray to Him! This doesn't have anything to do with "being happy" because God "gave you the stuff you asked for". Our fullness of Joy comes from being with God and spending time with Him. The more we seek His presence, the more He grants our wishes, because His will becomes our will. And in that, our Joy is made full. I believe Christ was subtly telling us that our inheritance as sons and daughters of God isn't in our stuff or even in Heaven; our inheritance is God Himself! In His presence is where He created us to be. That is the only time we feel complete.
In Christ's High Priestly Prayer, He says in John 17:13: "But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves."
Having Yeshua's Joy fulfilled in us is His very presence within us. This is quite an eye-opening truth to realize. He wasn't merely talking about His Joy at being God or His Joy in general, but the Joy of His very presence in our hearts.
What is amazing about this little study of the fullness of Joy is the fact that Psalm 16:11 was preached in Peter's very first sermon! Peter used this Psalm to prove that David spoke of the Messiah in Acts 2:28. Here is the entire passage:
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
Therefore, we know we're on the right track applying the words of this Psalm to Christ's own words! The Apostle Peter even told us King David was thinking of Messiah when he wrote these words.
Finally, we come to Hebrews 12:2, one of the richest Scriptures in the Bible. Look at what it says. Christ went to the cross FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM. What Joy was that? The Joy of God's presence! We know from Nehemiah that the Joy of the Lord is our strength. It was Yeshua's strength as well. As He climbed that hill to go to His death, He was panting and fainting for the courts of the Lord, like Psalms 84:2 tells us. But He placed one foot in front of the other, enduring the cross, despite the shame, because He KNEW the Joy that was coming, the Joy of the Lord!
This is how we traverse all of life's troubles. Romans 8:18 tells us our present suffering is NOTHING compared to future glory. That includes the JOY of God's presence. The FULLNESS of Joy. Not just a part, not just a shadow. Not some, not a little, but ALL of Joy is complete in Him. Christ found His strength in looking toward this Joy. Paul tells us to do the same. And we can tap into that Joy any time we wish when we pray!
This means that even when we're at our lowest point, even when we're dragging ourselves through the mud, when we feel like down is up, when we cry out to God for the pain that surrounds us, that His Joy, His presence, is our strength. Not only being with Him, but knowing that one day, we will stand before Him in Glory, and our Joy will be complete. We have this fullness even now, as the Spirit of Yeshua dwells within our hearts.
And it is because of this beautiful promise that we press on, we climb the hill, and we face our cross, despite the shame, knowing the Joy that's set before us. In Yeshua's name.