Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”
This encouraging command has been used in many generations of Sunday school teachings and sermons to challenge the saints. Of course, saints with a small “s” refers to those who have been sanctified. One commentary points out that the apostle Paul uses nearly half of the 74 appearances of the word “rejoice” in the New Testament in his epistles. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “rejoice” as: To experience joy and gladness in a high degree; to be exhilarated with lively and pleasurable sensations; to exult. When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn - Proverbs 29:2. I will rejoice in thy salvation - Psalm 9:14.
This simple statement in Philippians 4:4 (above) seems to summarize all of the other passages: “Rejoice [imperative command] in the Lord [the qualifier, or the ‘way’ to rejoice] always [in every circumstance and condition].” Joy is a godly thing. Because of our sinful condition, we cannot easily “rejoice in the Lord.” We can have fleeting moments of happiness and experiences that fill our hearts with delight and pleasure, but true joy—the ability to “rejoice”—only comes “in the Lord.”
A quick review from the “Songs” of Israel can help us grasp how the righteous rejoice:
Psalm 32:11“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”
Psalm 33:1“Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.”
Psalm 40:16“Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.”
Psalm 71;23“My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.”
Psalm 97:12“Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”
Joy and rejoicing from born-again believers produce emotion (gladness, cheering, praise, singing, thanks, etc.), but the object of the emotion is always the source of our joy—the Lord Jesus our Savior, King, and Creator.