1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice ever more.…
The apostle commendeth unto us three virtues, of greater price than the three presents the Magi brought unto Christ: the first is, "Rejoice evermore"; the second is, "Pray without ceasing"; the third, "In everything give thanks." All three are of one last, and are the things which one saith all men do, yet scarce one doeth them as he should; therefore the apostle, to show us how we should do them, doth put "continually" unto them, as though continuance were the perfection of all virtues.
I. THE COMMAND TO REJOICE. It is not an indifferent thing to rejoice, but we are commanded to rejoice, to show that we break a commandment if we rejoice not. Oh, what a comfort is this — when the Comforter Himself commands us to rejoice! God was wont to say, "Repent," and not "rejoice," because some men rejoice too much; but here God commandeth to rejoice, as though some men did not rejoice enough; therefore you must understand to whom He speaketh. In the Psalms it is said, "Let the saints be glad"; not, Let the wicked be glad: and in Isaiah God saith, "Comfort ye My people"; not, Comfort Mine enemies. He who would have us holy as He is holy, would have us joyful as He is joyful; He who would have us do His will on earth as angels do it in heaven, would have us rejoice on earth as angels rejoice in heaven; He who hath ordained us to the kingdom of saints, would have us rejoice that we have such a kingdom to receive; therefore Christ saith to His disciples, "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
II. THE COMMAND TO PRAY. As Elisha would not prophesy until the musician came, and while the musician played he prophesied, so when the heart rejoiceth in God, then it is fittest to call upon God.
1. It is such a pleasant thing that Paul joineth, "pray without ceasing" with "rejoice evermore," to show that no man hath such joy as he who is often talking with God by prayer; as if he should say, If thou have the skill to pray continually, it will make thee rejoice continually; for in God's company is nothing but joy and gladness of heart.
2. It is such a sweet thing, above other things that we do for God, that in Revelation the prayers of the saints are called "incense," because, when they ascend to heaven, God smelleth a sweet savour in them. Moreover, what a profitable thing unceasing prayer is! It doeth more good than alms; for with mine alms I help but three or four needy individuals, but with my prayers I aid thousands.
3. It is a powerful and victorious thing. As all Samson's strength lay in his hair, so all our strength lieth in ceaseless prayer. Many have learned more by praying than they could by reading, and done that by prayer they could not do by Counsel; therefore one saith that he who can pray continually can do all things and always, because, like Jacob, he can overcome God, who helpeth him; and he who can overcome God can overcome Satan too, who trieth his uttermost to hinder all things.
III. THE COMMAND TO PRAISE. What will we give to God if we will not afford Him thanks? What will we do for God if we will not praise Him? It is the least we can give and do, and it is all we can give and do. Shall the birds sing unto God, which is all they can do, and not they for whom God created birds? What a fool is he which will fight, and travel, and watch for himself, and will not speak for himself in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in his heart unto God! God requires the sacrifice of praise from us as He did from the Jews. Therefore let us not say, God will not hear us. God Himself says, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me; and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God."
Parallel VersesKJV: Rejoice evermore.
WEB: Rejoice always.