Psalm 14:7b “When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!”
David does not say “IF God restores the fortunes of his people…” He emphatically says “WHEN.” There was no question in his mind that someday the Lord would come and save his people. It was only a matter of time.
And David had good reason for such firm confidence. The whole history of his people is an object lesson in God’s faithfulness. Time and time again the Lord came to the rescue. He restored their fortunes by leading them out of Egypt, leading them out of the wilderness, defeating their enemies in the promised land. David himself had been God’s tool to defeat Goliath, defeat the Philistines, and give his people a settled peace. David’s faith in God’s great and future salvation was firm.
What is our faith this Christmas season? Is it that big fat red guy? Is it in some vague spirit of the holidays?
Or is it in the promises of Scripture and the Savior who has come? We look back on salvation accomplished, not in future hope like King David. Note how God is inviting us to trust him as he appears to us in Bethlehem. This is not the thunder and lightning and booming voices and smoke and clouds with which he appeared at Mount Sinai. This is God so loving us that he joins us in all our human poverty and weakness. This is God as a little human baby. And what could be more appealing, more approachable, and more lovable than a little baby? When we understand what really happened at Christmas, its message leads us to trust in God all the more.
People who believe that Jesus is God come to live in our world, to rescue us from sin, to deliver us from our troubles, and to take us to heaven can’t be “ho-hum” about Christmas, can they? Think of the joy it gave the shepherds, who ran through Bethlehem telling others; or Mary, Zechariah, or Simeon, who were moved to compose spontaneous songs of praise about God’s goodness in keeping his promise; or the magi, who traveled hundreds of miles to worship him.
The rejoicing and gladness of which David speaks describe a joy that infects a person’s whole heart, mind, and soul, a joy which wants to express itself vigorously throughout our whole bodies and lives. You can smile, and even laugh, this Christmas season. It’s okay. You can sing the Advent and Christmas hymns at the top of your lungs. No one will mind, even if you do sing a little off key. You can go all out in your decorating, and you can feast and celebrate without feeling guilty, because God has sent us a Savior, and that gives us joy.