“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city that compact together: Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD . . . Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”
When David penned those words, he was speaking expressly of his joy of going into the Temple of the Lord that stood in Jerusalem. Though that temple is not there for us to experience as he did, the gladness he described of going to the city of Jerusalem still is. There is a unique sense of joy that comes when a child of God, with a heart for His Word, stands within the gates of that same city, with the stones under his feet, and the Bible before his eyes, reading what David said, in the place that David said it. “Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.” – vs 2
As David penned these words under the superintendency of the hand of God, not only was he inscribing information he knew, he was describing the emotions that he felt. I will be the first to say to you that our faith does not rest upon our feelings; but upon the facts of God as He has revealed them to us in His Word. But I will also say that while we do not live by our feelings, we have to live with our feelings, and many times our feelings are not necessarily due to the whims of the flesh, but are products of the effects of our faith.
The Bible very often does two things: It tells us what to believe; and in many cases tells us how to feel. A couple of examples might be:
– “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God believe also in me” – Feelings produced by faith.
– “Make a joyful noise . . . ” – commanded seven times within the Psalms.
– “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted” – Feelings produced by faith
Throughout the scriptures God promises to solve painful emotions, or provide pleasant ones. For example, Psalm 116:3-4 – “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD . . .” or “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
The fact is that the Bible is full of emotions both positive and negative, and both fiercely connected to the effects, and practices of our faith. Sin, when it comes to it’s end produces death, and all that goes with it. Submission to the Word of God, the Son of God and the Spirit of God, when it comes to it’s end, produces a joy unspeakable and full of glory, and all that goes with it.
I said all of that to say this; in their rightful place, and rooted in their rightful source, emotions are not always only products of the flesh.
Now that being said, reading the Word of God is a great joy. Reading the Word of God in the place that the Word of God was written, looking at what the human author was looking at, walking the roads the events happened upon, latches hold of your faith, and ignites an emotion that can only be described as a blessing from God.
As David penned the 122 Psalm, he revealed his joy for being in the city of God’s choosing. The Bible says in Psalm 48:1, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness.” I can stand flatfooted and give personal testimony to say that it is wonderful to praise the Lord in the city of God.
I am looking forward to January 2013. If the Lord be willing I hope to return, and rejoice in that place once more. There are a number of things in the history of my life that given the opportunity, as everyone else, I would love to change. Erasing my time in Israel is not one of them. Going to Israel is a change worth making, only because the experience is a blessing worth having.