A rich expression this when one thinks of what God is and what the worshipper was!
How can it be that one who, by nature, dreads the very name of God, and whose only conception of Him is at the very best, but one of severity, can find his exceeding joy in Him?
Yet that such is the case there have been, and are, witnesses abundant.
The words themselves are taken from Psalm 43, and the sentence runs, “Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy.” The path to God is by the altar, and this must be carefully noted. The altar suggests worship, but not only so. It teaches sacrifice, and offerings, and approach by blood; for, in point of fact, there is no access to God at all save on that ground. Hence we read in Hebrews 10:19, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Of old, the High Priest dare never come to the typical most holy place but once a year, and, mark, “not without blood”; now the Christian has adequate title by “the blood of Jesus” to enter into the Holiest—the immediate presence of God—at all times! He has boldness, or liberty, to do so.
High our privilege—we who once were but “sinners of the Gentiles” and alienated in mind by wicked works! Purged from our myriad sins by the precious blood of Jesus the Son of God, we find ourselves at home in the divine presence in absolute peace and joy.
Oh! what wonderful virtue there must be in that blood, seeing that it forms our only but all-sufficient title to enter the Holiest! Other title there is none. Let us lay highest store by it; let us adore the Lamb of God for His all-atoning death and for the power of the Sacrifice which, through faith on our part, can take the vilest sinner from the greatest moral distance and fit him, then and there, for the Paradise of God. Could such a device have entered the brain of man? Never!
Then, how appalling, how mad the sin that would count that blood “a common thing,” and thus fling away the only hope and the greatest title that God could grant! Yet such is the folly of the day. Wonderful altar; precious stepping-stone to these glorious altitudes—“unto God my exceeding joy”!
Leaving the Psalms, what do we find in the New Testament but words very similar, though more explicit: “We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11).
The thought is the same; it is joy in God, not merely rejoicing in hope of His glory, but in God Himself, and thus on the solid, eternal basis of that which the Lord Jesus Christ has done. By it we have received the reconciliation—the kiss, the robe, the ring, the sandals—all tokens of our welcome and pardon and glad home-bringing, together with, the best of all endowments, the feast of the Father’s House itself, the heavenly Banqueting House of love and joy divine!
“God my exceeding joy”—words sweet and intelligible and true.
“We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” an experience known and enjoyed by all His own people, and to be better known when all that flesh obscures shall be gone for ever.
What clouds are dissipated by that altar! What a solution we find therein to the difficulties which sin has raised!
The veil is rent from top to bottom, God is revealed, the sinner is brought nigh; he is pardoned, blessed, redeemed, and, best of all, he can speak of God as his “exceeding joy.”
What a salvation! May we learn its depths and heights, and joys and glories, with increasing delight day by day.