Whenever we explore the Scriptures to gain understanding and grow closer to God, we endeavor to hold three key things in perspective:
- what it says about the person and character of God
- what the surrounding context and other Scriptures say
- some ways we can apply it to our lives
Finally, we will always end our contemplation with prayer, humbly seeking understanding and wisdom from the Holy Spirit in relationship to the passage.
We encourage you to read along and answer these questions for yourself. If you would like suggestions on study tools for further exploration, you can find some study aids at the bottom of this post.
Let’s dive in!
For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
What does this passage say about the person and character of God?
This entire chapter is full of great and amazing things about God. What we are zeroing in on from this verse in particular is that God leads us in peace and ushers us out in joy and celebration because of all He has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. This one verse illustrates how God’s powerful generation of joy and peace in our lives cascades onto creation, resulting in the addition of nature’s chorus! God tells us something else about who He is in this passage, if we are careful to observe it: God cares about us so much that He wants us to have joy and peace, He personally wants to lead us there so He brings us to peace and produces joy through His work in our lives.
What is the surrounding context for this passage?
In the NIV Bible, this chapter is titled “Invitation to the Thirsty” and begins by acknowledging that there are some who hunger and thirst for more of Almighty God, inviting us to come “get” more of Him! How do we “get” more of God? We seek Him. When we come to Him and listen we get more of Him. To get more of God, we have to put life on “pause” and sit still and quietly with Him. There is so much about God that we don’t understand, but He gives all of Himself to us. Life is wrapped up in Him. The final verses leading up to verse 12 talk about the very thoughts and words of God being bigger and deeper and more powerful than we can comprehend. The climax occurs when we bring our “thirst” to God. What is the result? Our joy comes bursting forth, we have great peace, and our satisfaction with Him is so great, even the trees and mountains will burst forth in praise for the Lord.
How does this verse apply to our lives?
Think of a spring-fed river that goes on farther than you can see. Neither the river’s origin nor its end can be seen. This river provides refreshing water to drink and gives life to everything around it. Life “in the moment” at the river’s edge is imperceivable, but the powerful results of this river are easily identifiable. God masterfully uses images to which we can relate when He explains things to us. We know what it’s like to be thirsty. Our bodies know what it’s like to drink refreshing water. The image or experience of being in the midst of vegetation around a flourishing river or spring is satisfying to enjoy. This is what God and His Word are like – expressive, refreshing and flourishing.
When I rid myself of the distractions of worry and instead listen to the Word of God that never returns void (it always accomplishes His purpose), I will have peace and be filled with joy. I’ve noticed that when I start and fill my day with the Word and seeking the mind of God, that His Spirit leads me to rest and into joy. I’m able to see creation around me. Do you? Doesn’t it look like it’s all praising God? The trees lift their branches way up as if toward heaven. The mountains stand tall and strong as if displaying their allegiance to Almighty God. Everything seems to “sing” a chorus that there is none other worthy of recognition or power or glory. The hills are sound waves against the horizon, offered to God in praise of His glory. What a beautiful, wonderful, powerful God He is!
Lord God, maker of heaven and earth – and me! I give you glory, and all my adoration is for you. Thank you for giving me your joy and peace. You perfectly provide everything I need, even in ways that I may not understand. Thank you for your Word that never returns void. Instead, your Word leads me always into joy, peace, and reconciliation, and shows me Who You are. You are a great God. No one is good like You, God, and You deserve all glory and praise! Please help me, Lord, to perceive all of creation praising You. Let nothing in all creation out-praise me!