“The Joy Was Heard Far Away”

And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages. Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate. And after them went Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah, and Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, and certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets: Zechariah… and his relatives, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David. And Ezra the scribe went before them… 

“The other choir of those who gave thanks went to the north, and I followed them with half of the people, on the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Gate of Yeshanah, and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. So both choirs of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me; and the priests with trumpets. And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.” Nehemiah 12:27-28,31-36,38-43

In the cacophony of everyday life we hear a lot of noise, from songbirds to sirens, from vehicles to machines to horns, from a workman’s shout to a mother’s chastisement to a crowd’s revelry. But how often do we hear joy? And what part might I have in bringing it to the mix, and fore?

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The dedication of the wall was a celebration of accomplishment in the face of opposition, of perseverance and commitment and hard work from people of all backgrounds and talents. It was a rejoicing in a humanly impossible work that God had brought about, a time of exalting Him who had done great things. As much as this well-ordered dedication was a beautiful procession ringing the city like a festal crown, it was also a natural uprising of music in every heart, sparkling with melody like multicolored jewels. Gratitude does that, gracing our places with visible, audible joy.

To be heard far away, our joy must abound nearby, welling up inside to overflow. How consistently do I rejoice in my Savior, and sing His praise? What selfish feelings and mental consternations dampen my joy in the Lord, and how will I exchange those for thankfulness? With whom do I connect to laud Him together? Joy seldom attends this dark world; what will I do to contribute it to my home and community? (Psalm 47:1; 96:1; Philippians 4:4)

LORD, may joy so fill my heart and life with ceaseless praise that others see, and hear, and taste its fruit, and glorify You. (Galatians 5:22)

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