You have multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before you according to the joy in harvest…
This joy is used as a picture of the joy God designs for His Church.
I. OBSERVE A GREAT PRINCIPLE IN THE WORDS "BEFORE THEE." All true joy is "before God" — in His presence — with conscious reference to Him.
1. One use of harvest thanksgivings is to bring out this principle, to connect the gift of the harvest with the Giver.
2. All the joy of life is to be sanctified in the same way. Make it be "joy before God." Let it be deepened, purified, ennobled by the thought of the love that gave it, and the presence and sympathy of the Giver.
3. We learn from the same principle the limit of innocent joy. It must be "before God." Can you connect your pleasure with Him? Use this as a test.
II. THE PURPOSE OF GOD IS THAT HIS PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE JOY, DEEP, FULL, SATISFYING. You wish to be happy. God wishes it infinitely more than you do.
1. Are you happy? Yes? Because you have health, comforts, etc.? Is this all! Poor joy! Enough for animals, but not for immortal spirits. Not like the joy of harvest; no rest in it, no noble achievement, no permanence. God is not satisfied with this JOY for you.
2. Are you happy? No? Wishes unfulfilled, cares, bereavements, dissatisfaction with self, yam endeavours after goodness, sense of guilt, etc.? Your Saviour knows your sorrows, offers you joy.
3. Purpose accomplished in the final harvest. "Joy before Him"; the "rest"; the "well done"; the "evermore."
(F. Wynne, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.