Many of us have heard the good and bad seasons in life compared to hills and valleys, or the ebb and flow of the ocean, a gentle up-and-down that rolls peacefully along.
But the highs and lows can also be as extreme as a roller coaster, swooping fast and low and then to terrifying, wild heights only to catapult in an entirely new direction.
From a simple shepherd to the famed slayer of the giant Goliath, from beloved by the king to the target of that same ruler’s mad, murderous jealousy, David understood how quickly life could change. He knew deep despair and fervent bliss, sometimes in the very same season.
That’s perhaps why David’s words in Psalm 30:5, about the joy that comes in the morning, resonate so strongly. But what does that mean, exactly? How does joy come in the morning?
What Does ‘Joy Comes in the Morning’ Mean?
The phrase comes from one of the many psalms penned by David, who was not only king of Israel, but a poet, lyricist, and musician known for his close relationship with and constant dependence upon God. Psalm 30 is a psalm of gratitude.
Here, David thanks God both for healing and for saving him from ruin, death, and despair. David faced many struggles in his life, from years spent on the run from King Saul to his great sin with Bathsheba and the death of their firstborn, and in this Psalm, we don’t know which ruin David is referring to.
But as David writes in 30:1-2, God lifted him “out of the depths” and healed him, and for that great blessing, David celebrates.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:4-5).
What he’s meaning here is that while difficulty (and darkness) does occur for a season, we can take comfort in the knowledge that this season will pass, and light will return.
Just as night eventually fades away when the sun rises, and day turns to night when the sun sets, so too do our trials and tribulations in life. Much like Ecclesiastes 3 expresses, there is indeed a time for everything, “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (4).
Why Do We Experience Weeping and Joy?
Joy is hope in the Lord and is experienced when we are in connection with God. But sin separates us from God. Sin isn’t just “doing something wrong” but is a direct offense against God, an attack, and it creates a wall of division between us and our Father.
Struggles often follow sin. Like children whose parents are working hard to get us back on track, often we are challenged with struggles to help us get in alignment with God and learn to depend upon Him once again.
Other times we experience struggles through no fault of our own. For example, a hurricane or other natural disaster might come sweeping across the land, wreaking havoc upon our home or causing death and destruction, leaving us in the depths of our sorrow.
In some ways, our life on earth is much like that time of darkness and weeping. As Jesus told His disciples in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
There are seasons, periods of darkness, in our lives when we suffer and struggle. During these times, weeping often does “stay for the night,” as the psalm explains. We do “have trouble,” as Jesus notes.
But that time of weeping is not forever. Joy does indeed come next. Sometimes, that “nighttime” of weeping lasts for the remainder of our earthly days, and we experience the “morning” in heaven.
That is, the joy we experience comes after our human bodies have died and we are reunited with Jesus in heaven in the reward of eternal salvation — this is the joy we receive.
Other times, the nighttime of weeping is a span of days or months or even years that eventually goes away and we again experience a time of joy during our earthly lives.
But make no mistake: that suffering is never designed to happen forever. It occurs for a finite period of time, then passes away.
Joy is a promise we can cling to.
How Does Joy Come in the Morning?
The Hebrew word used in Psalm 30:5 for joy is rinnah, and this is a celebratory word. According to the New American Standard Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, rinnah is translated as a ringing cry of proclamation, joy, and praise.
This isn’t some docile, complacent feeling of joy but one of exuberance and passion, the kind of joy you shout earnestly from the mountaintop.
When our time of darkness has passed, that is indeed how joy emerges — like the slow but vibrant gleam we see as the sun appears to surface from the horizon.
How Does This Relate to Jesus?
While the birth of Jesus isn’t specifically described until the gospel accounts in the New Testament, scholars are quick to remind us that Jesus is woven throughout the Bible, in Genesis, and in every book in the New Testament.
In fact, Psalm 30:5 offers a glimpse of the resurrection and hope we have in Jesus, our savior and Messiah.
And we see many parallels between this verse and the account of what happened to Jesus’ disciples immediately after the crucifixion. Jesus told His disciples that He would be killed and then would rise again, but they didn’t believe Him.
And when He died on the cross, they were devastated. Not only did they seem to expect He’d somehow escape this torturous death at the hands of His enemies, but His death seemed to indicate He was just a human being after all.
They must have wondered if they were mistaken about His divinity. Certainly, at the least, they were confused and plummeted into despair. Now what? What should they do next?
But on Easter morning, the tomb was empty. Jesus had indeed conquered death. Joy did indeed follow the darkness. And when Jesus appeared to them not long after this, they rejoiced, blown away by the knowledge that all Christ had promised was fulfilled.
As the Apostle Paul writes in his first letter to the early church in Corinth,
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).
And as the Apostle Peter writes,
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials (1 Peter 1:3-6).
So, take heart: suffering is a given. Weeping does occur, for our earth is decidedly not heaven. But as the Apostle John encourages us in 1 John 2:8, “the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” Our suffering is finite, and Jesus embodies that joy that comes in the morning.
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Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.