THE STREGTH OF JOY.
From Great Texts of the BibleEdited by Glenn PeaseThe joy of the Lord is your strength. eh. viii. 10.I reading the Holy Scriptures, or hearing them read in theservices of the Church, we fail to notice one outstanding featurecommon both to the Old Testament and to the ew, and that is theextraordinary frequency with which we meet with short sentenceswhich arrest our attention, and challenge our admiration alike bythe simplicity of the words employed, and by the profundity of the thought expressed. Of no other literature of any age or of any country can this be said in equal degree, and even our oft-quoted poets, with Shakespeare immeasurably the foremost of them all, pale into insignificance before the Bible as the greatestmine that the world has ever known of priceless gems of pregnantand beautiful thought. Such a sentence is the text. It standsout as one of perhaps the first five or six most striking sentencesin the whole Bible. Had ehemiah left us no other message than just this one utterance, his name would still stand high among thegreat names of the human race, who through the wizardry of felicitous phrase have enriched all succeeding ages by the powerof an inspiring thought.1. Some forty thousand of the Jews had returned from theBabylonian captivity. They had built their little temple amidthe ruins of Jerusalem, and resumed the worship of the Lord shouse. But they were few, oppressed, and in great misery. Theygroaned under the tyranny of the Persian satraps. The neighboring Samaritans plundered their barns and fields. Their citywas as yet undefended by fortified gates, and fell an easy prey tothe troops of banditti who scoured the desolate country. " Thecity was large and great : but the people were few therein, andthe houses were not builded." They complained in their prayerthat they were slaves in the land given to their fathers. Theysaid, " It yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hastset over us because of our sins ; also they have dominion over ourbodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in greatdistress." In their distress they turned to Jehovah. Theyhungered to hear the Divine Law, which many of them had neverheard, copies being so scarce with them and life so hard. Theymet in the street before the Water-Gate ; and Ezra, the scribe,brought out the Law and read it to them, and gave them the sense,and caused them to understand the meaning. As they listened,they wept. The contrast between what they had been, and whatthey were, was too much for them. Once a great nation prosper