Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend. 1 Chronicles 27:33
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)
These are two verses that seem strange to put together. But that is what I felt the Lord doing recently. What could these verses have in common I wondered.
The first verse comes after a long list of King David’s royal officials and their important responsibilities. One was in charge of the king’s storehouses, one was in charge of the field workers who farmed the land, one the vineyards, another the olive and sycamore trees. There were officials in charge of the cattle and the other livestock, the king’s property, the king’s sons, and Ahithophel the king’s adviser.
And then at the end it says, “Hushai was the king’s friend.” As a performance-oriented person, tempted to salvation by works, that jarred me. Just his friend. The word for friend used here is a Hebrew word which means friend, companion, intimate. It comes from the verb form which means to be a special friend. But still, just a friend.
So, what does that have to do with joy and peace in believing? I decided to look into the meaning of the Greek word for joy used in Romans 15:13 and I was pretty shocked.
The Greek word is chara (χαρά). It means “cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight.” The verb form is chairo which means “calmly happy” according to Strong’s i.
This surprised me because I’ve always thought of joy as expressed like David dancing with all his might – singing songs at the top of my lungs, jumping and clapping and dancing.
Joy always has seemed like a doing thing to me, even something I had to manufacture, some kind of outward expression. Certainly not calm delight.
There is another Greek word for joy or rejoice, agalliao (ἀγαλλιάω). And that one does mean “jumping for joy.” It is the word that Mary used in her song of praise: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices (jumps for joy) in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47).
But the joy expressed in Romans 15:13 is a different kind of joy. It’s a believing, firm, standing on the Rock, I know-it-in-my-knower kind of joy. So, it makes sense to me for this calm delight to be paired with peace. Peace is the Greek word eirene (εἰρήνη). It means, among other things, the “tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God.”
According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament peace is, in its widest sense, the “normal state of all things.” Wow, I love that! Peace is what is supposed to be the normal state of all things, but especially between me and God. It is peace of soul. “Peace of soul is meant in Rom. 15:13, although this peace is possible only through the saving work of God which restores our normal state … it is a positive state inseparably connected with joy and faith.”
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 4:25-5:2
Let not your hearts be troubled (agitated, troubled, anxious, distressed, take away your calmness of mind). Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1 (ESV)
But what does all of this have to do with being a friend of God? It’s the “doing something” thing again. The salvation by works thing. All of King David’s royal officials had works they did. But Hushai was “just” the king’s friend. I see now that there is no “just” about it in God’s mind.
The miraculous thing is that God wants us all to be called the King’s friend. I believe it is His ultimate goal and passion.
I don’t know about you, but the command to be joyful has been accompanied by a certain amount of guilt for me. I am not always happy and jumpy and clappy. I get weighed down with the effects of sin and the oppression and sorrow in this world. But I know – I know – that I am the King’s friend. Calmly delighted and happy, tranquilly assured of my salvation through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Because of what Jesus did on the cross, being the special friend of God, having peace with God, is my normal state. And that is joy.
I have called you friends … John 15:15
You too can be God’s friend – Salvation
i Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Image copyright Jack Bair