for there was joy in Israel 1 Chronicles 12:40 (Hebrew World)
Joy – “Joy is not a theological category in the teachings of most religions and it is never discussed in handbooks of theology. Those who are overwhelmed by spiritual solemnity and are unable to forget that faith lives in a constant state of tension between ignominious death and eternal life find it difficult to comprehend the Jewish conception. Even within Judaism the teaching that joy lies in the very heart of worship, that it is a prerequisite for piety, is a scandal to the dullards and a stumbling block to the bigots.”
What more can be said? Should we recall that Yeshua does not greet the women who come to the garden tomb with “Shalom” but rather with “Chairete.” [April 11, 2004] Should we reflect on James famous statement, “Count it all joy when . . .”? Do we need to remember the number of times Paul speaks of joy? Yes, it’s true, this passage is about the joy of Israel when David is finally crowned king of the entire country, but joy is the watchword of true Hebraic faith. It is the essence of our relationship with the Father and the substance of our message to the world. Without joy, religion is just another way of plodding through the day. If joy is absent from life, life is absent from being.
Simhah is not a feeling. It is the reality, experience and manifestation of overwhelming gladness. It’s not simply an inward emotional state. Joy delivers actions. Singing, dancing, shouting, offering praises, prayer, feasting and celebration. Joy is the flow of worship and service. In fact, God expects us to exhibit joy as we involve ourselves in His redemptive work. That should give us pause. If joy is the essence of my relationship with the Father, why does it seem so absent in the lives of many who call themselves His children? If joy is to characterize our worship and our work, then why do so many of us drag ourselves through the day, hating what we have to do to make ends meet? The Hebrew imagery of joy is captured in a wedding celebration. That’s the kind of rapturous exuberance we are expected to display before God! That’s what we bring to the Sabbath, to prayer, to His festivals. This is the age of joy, the time of rejoicing.
If you’re like me, reading these words produces melancholy. Yes, we know it’s supposed to be like this. We are supposed to be flooded with joy. But somehow life saps us of that divine vitality. We catch only glimpses of joyful reality. We experience only moments of bliss. And we think, “Well, that’s just the way life is in this broken world.” No! That’s not the way life is. That’s the way we have allowed it to become. If the Lord of hosts expects His people to live with joy, then that is the reality of our experience. Once again we are listening to that inner voice instead of the external word of the Father. If He runs to greet us as we return to Him, and prepares the finest banquet to celebrate our recovery, why do we withhold what is His – our joy? Get up and dance! Eat! Sing! Love life! Be joyful! That’s an order. :)
Topical Index: joy, simhah, 1 Chronicles 12:40, chairete
 Abraham Heschel, A Passion for the Truth, pp. 51-52.