In this world there are sad songs, love songs and battle songs, but when it comes to singing of salvation the songs are songs of joy and gladness. David knew this when he wrote the lyrics and probably the music for Psalm 51. In it he sings,
Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (Psalm 51:12 NIV)
Salvation means joy, and joy means singing. Psalm 126 is speaking of release from physical captivity, but it is also a great picture of spiritual salvation.
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. (Psalm 126 NIV)
This is a song overflowing with joy. All of this joy comes from someplace, and that someplace is Heaven. The center of Heaven is God. He is the focus of everything in Heaven. If God were not joyful, Heaven would not be joyful. That is a reasoning statement; however, there are clear expressions of joy in Heaven for the same reasons we have joy on this earth—our repentance and salvation. This is described in Luke 15:7 and 10:
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent... In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (NIV)
A great expression of joy in Heaven is Zephaniah 3:17:
The Lord you God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (NIV)
We see here that God is with us, saves us, loves us and rejoices over us with singing. For God to rejoice over me with singing is almost beyond my comprehension. It is easy for me to sing with joy because of my salvation, but difficult for me to think that God is far happier than I am because of my salvation. My salvation is from God, and so is my joy. He is the source of both. I should not find it difficult if I realize that my joy comes from Him.
When St. Paul speaks of the fruit of the Spirit, he is telling us that the Holy Spirit is the source of joy.
God sings over us with joy, the Holy Spirit gives us joy, and the Lord Jesus Christ looked forward to the joy beyond the cross.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)
When we arrived in Moscow, Idaho, in the fall of 1971, we met a group of people who met every Wednesday evening to sing. They had been converted through a lay witness mission the preceding February. They had been singing ever since.
In this world there are two reasons for music. The first is the pleasure of listening to music or playing music or singing. The music causes pleasure. The second is that music is sung, played and listened to because joy was there before the music. In other words, joy caused the music. That is the way it is in Heaven, and that is the way it should be in the church on earth. Because we associate music with good feelings, we sometimes reverse the order. We have music in the church in order to cause pleasure, and then we think it is joy. That is not the same as singing that is caused by joy. Joy comes first from our salvation from the Holy Spirit and continues as we keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit by singing.
There are two major results of revival in the church. One is restitution and the other is joyful singing. Let us not forget the reason for joy and singing. This is what is sung about in Heaven:
And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshipped. (Revelation 5:9-14 NIV)
(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)