Scripture mentions joy many times and as we study the “joy” passages, we see many different facets or aspects. What is joy? According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, there are a number of Hebrew and Greek words used for joy in Scripture.
The most often used word is Strong’s Hebrew 8057 , simchah, which means joy, gladness, mirth. There are 95 occurrences of simchah or a variation used. There is a lot of noisy and vigorous celebration associated with simchah. Consider the following examples.
- Numbers 10:10 “Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month. And blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind the LORD your God of his covenant with you. I am the LORD your God.”
- 1 Sam 18:6 “When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.”
- 1 Kings 1:40 “And all the people followed Solomon into Jerusalem, playing flutes and shouting for joy. The celebration was so joyous and noisy that the earth shook with the sound.”
Joy is meant to fill us and overflow to others. We see this in the two occurrences of Strong’s Hebrew 2304, chedvah.
- 1 Chron. 15:27 “Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling.”
- Nehemiah 8:10 “And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
At times we are to rejoice with vigor and even with reverent awe and trembling before our sovereign King, as we see in some of the 46 occurrences of Strong’s Hebrew gil and its variants. The word gil can also mean “whirl” or “spin around”.
- Psalm 2:11 “Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling.”
- Psalm 16:9 “No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.”
- Psalm 48:11 “Let the people on Mount Zion rejoice. Let all the towns of Judah be glad because of your justice.”
The Greek word chara (Strong’s 5479) is used 59 times in the New Testament.
- Matt 2:10 “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!”
- Luke 15:10 “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
- James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, …”
When are we to rejoice and be filled with joy? When we recall the greatness of YHVH (Is. 12:6), in our love for one another (Philemon 1:7), before Yeshua returns (1 Pet. 1:8-9), when we are persecuted (James 1:2-3; Heb 12:2), when we hope and trust in YHVH (Rom 15:13, when we speak face-to-face (2 John 1:12) and when Yeshua returns (John 16:22). In other words, we are to be joyful at all times and in all circumstances (Phil 4:4).
As we embark on Sukkot, we are commanded to rejoice and be filled with joy (Deut 16:14-15). We remember YHVH with the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness and we celebrate YHVH dwelling with us now through His Holy Spirit. Yeshua has promised to never leave us or forsake us and He will return to us soon to reign over us. Our Father’s glory will once again be present in Jerusalem. We will see YHVH face to face (1 Cor 13:12). We have much cause to rejoice. Chag Sameach (from simchah) Sukkot!