Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I already knew where God would be leading me this morning. Thankfully, I woke up thinking the same thoughts!
It came down to this: the call to, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice,” cannot be fulfilled in our lives while we are ashamed of our heavenly Father, or afraid of letting people know we love him.
On the positive side, there is a sense in which rejoicing in the Lord involves boasting in the Lord. We cannot hide our joy in the Lord behind fear and shame of our Father, and we cannot rejoice in our Lord Jesus Christ without boasting of what he has done for us. This is certainly confirmed with Scriptures like this:
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
When God tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,”he is revealing a relationship in which he delights to practice steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, and he wants us to delight in him so that he can delight in giving us the desires of our hearts.
Rejoicing in the Lord requires that we do not boast in our own wisdom, but we rejoice that we understand and know God. It requires that we put off any boasting in our might, or our strength, or our abilities, and, instead, rejoice that we understand and know God. Instead of boasting in our wealth, albeit great or small, rejoicing in the Lord requires that we consider our greatest treasure that we understand and know God.
In contrast to our own wisdom, and our own might, and our own riches, we see our God, our heavenly Father, our big Brother, our Holy Spirit companion, who practice steadfast love that is beyond our wisdom. They practice justice that is beyond our strength. They practice righteousness that is beyond our riches.
God reveals the life in which he and his children share in the greatest joy. We cannot know the greatest joy when we rejoice and boast in something so small as our wisdom, our might, or our riches. Go up to the view of the International Space Station and find yourself, your wisdom, your might, and your riches on the map, so to speak. You will see nothing of yourself in the picture, and yet the whole earth is God’s footstool. The whole earth is the LORD’s. Everything in the earth belongs to our God.
It is interesting that, in the Psalm in which God calls us to delight ourselves in him so that he can give us the most joyful desires of our hearts, David began by saying, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!”
What I realize right away is that the two negative exhortations speak of a comprehensive conflict with delighting ourselves in the LORD. When we fret because of evildoers, we have such an exaggerated view of our enemies that we end up with a very small view of God. We cannot rejoice in the Lord and fret because of our enemies. We cannot rejoice in how powerful and mighty our heavenly Father is, and also fret about how dangerous evildoers are.
In fact, it is fitting that Paul’s positive exhortation to rejoice in the Lord leads into his negative exhortation, “do not be anxious about anything.” We cannot be anxious about evildoers, anxious about the evil day in which we live, anxious that we will not survive the bad things that are going on in the world, and also rejoice in the Lord at the same time.
It is interesting that, when we boast in our wisdom, we will fret when evil men do things we cannot understand, or scheme things beyond our ability to strategize a countermeasure. When our wisdom cannot figure out what to do, we will fret because of what evil people are doing.
On the other hand, when we rejoice that we understand and know God, we pray that wonderful prayer that God would strengthen us with power through his Spirit in our inner being, so that Jesus Christ would dwell in our innermost hearts by faith, so that we will have the power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the rich and full dimensions of the love of Jesus Christ, and to know that love that surpasses knowledge, so that God would fill us with all the fullness of his presence.
When our joy in understanding and knowing God is bolstered with our prayer to comprehend and know the love of Jesus Christ, there is nothing evil men can do to take us away from rejoicing in our God. The testimonies of those who suffered persecution, or saw that they were going to be martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ, is that they could not give up their boast in the Lord because their highest treasure was that they understood and knew the Lord.
To have that joyful boasting in God, something no one can take away from us, makes us fearless of our enemies. We may cringe at what they can do to us in bodily harm, in destruction of possessions, and meeting places, and homes, but we will not fear the evils of evil men because our joy, and our boasting, is that we understand and know God!
In particular, those who come to God through faith in Jesus Christ understand God to be our Father. We know him as our Father. We delight in this rich, radiant fellowship of grace, that God has made himself known to us. He has adopted us as his sons. He chose us and predestined us for adoption. We see the evil of the evil doers, and we marvel at God who practices steadfast love. We see the evils all around us, and the delight that wicked men have in their evil deeds, and we boast and rejoice in God’s justice that has so conspired to bring about our own justification, and will fully succeed at handing out justice against evildoers. We rejoice in him because we know that his justice will be exalted above the evil deeds of the world.
I see this in the revelation of Jesus’ return. The world will be filled with terror at his coming, calling on the rocks and mountains to cover them at sight of the wrath of God and the Lamb, and God will leave no stone unturned, so to speak, in meting out his justice to every person who does evil.
God’s word declares that, “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil.” It tells us that, at Jesus’ coming, “all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”God’s word describes the terror that evil people will experience at Jesus’ return as:
15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
This is why we are not to fret and worry over evildoers. This is why we are not to be anxious about the way that the world rises up against Yahweh and his anointed. Both old and new testaments tell us of the animosity of the world, the flesh, and the devil against our great and holy and mighty God. It never once tells us to fret about this. It never once tells us to worry about what evil people will do. It always directs us to rejoice in the Lord, to delight in the Lord, to boast in the Lord. We are to exult in the Lord God, our heavenly Father, our faithful and loving brother, and our gracious companion Spirit.
Not only does David tell us not to fret because of evildoers, but he also instructs us, “be not envious of wrongdoers!”  The two go hand in hand, like two sides of the same coin, but with different emotions attached.
One danger for us is to live in fear of our enemies. The other danger is that we become envious of our enemies. We can see how the wicked seem to prosper in situations where the righteous suffer. We can see how the wicked get promotions, while the righteous miss out, are demoted, lose their jobs or businesses because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and are even ostracized from employment. We can look at the prosperity of the wicked, and the misery of the righteous, and allow ourselves to envy what the wicked enjoy in this lifetime.
As David leads up to us delighting ourselves in Yahweh, and experiencing the true desires of our hearts, he must rule out any room we might give to envying the wicked. We cannot look at the success of the wicked in any beneficial, desirable, envious way, and then so delight ourselves in the Lord that we get the desires of our hearts.
If any of us realize that our fear of man, or our envy of the wicked, are keeping us from rejoicing, and delighting, and boasting in the Lord, do not look in the mirror for the solution. Turn to God, call out to him in faith, and ask him to bring you to both understand and know him, that he is God, that he is the Lord, and that he “practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.” It is his will for us to know him like this, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
When we truly accept that these are the things in which our heavenly Father delights, and that all these qualities are exercised towards all his children, we will begin to delight, and rejoice, and boast in who God is to us, and who we are to him.
And not only that, to help us call out to God about these things, he has given us Paul’s exemplary prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21 to encourage us along.
© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)
 Philippians 4:4
 Jeremiah 9:23-24
 Psalm 37:4
 Isaiah 66:1
 Psalm 24:1
 Psalm 37:1
 This includes continually rehashing what enemies of the past have done so that we are not renewing our minds with the transforming reminders of what God has done, is doing, and will do.
 Philippians 4:6
 Ephesians 3:14-19
 Matthew 13:44-46 illustrate the treasure of coming to understand and know Jesus Christ.
 Romans 2:9
 Matthew 24:30
 Revelation 6:15-17
 See Psalm 2:1-12
 Psalm 37:1
 I John 5:14