Scripture contains nearly five hundred passages that deal with the subject of joy, rejoicing, and happiness. King Solomon was praised by the Queen of Sheba upon her visit to Israel. Having heard of King Solomon and the God of Israel, she traveled from her country to gain a first-hand view of the grandeur and blessings bestowed on Solomon. “When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan — with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold and precious stones — she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; “Nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her” (1 Kings 10:1-3 NIV).
The nation, under the king’s leadership, was functioning as God intended, as a witness to surrounding and even far away nations concerning the one true God, the pre-incarnate Christ, and the Creator God. It was impossible to hide the joy that permeated Solomon’s kingdom and palace courts. “How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness” (1 Kings 10:8-9 NIV).
King David, Solomon’s father, had secured the peace and boundaries of Israel through his military conquests and victories. But of greater significance was the spiritual legacy imparted to Solomon as David’s son. "The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: 'When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth” (2 Sam 23:2-4 NIV). Israel was fulfilling her role as God’s servant nation in disseminating the knowledge of the one true God. The happiness evident in Solomon’s court was a reflection of the inner spiritual qualities of righteousness and justice.
A more dismal scene would exist a thousand years later in the same nation. Israel had abandoned God’s Word for the external display of religiosity. It was at this time that Messiah, the God of Israel manifested in the flesh, faced the injustice, meaningless rituals and traditions imposed on the nation by its religious leaders. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matt 23:27-28 NIV).
Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men” (Mark 7:6-8 NIV). The result was the rejection of Jesus as the Savior and Messiah. But that sad state of affairs did not deter Christ from going to the Cross and paying the sin debt of Israel and of all humanity. He would fulfill the Father’s Plan … “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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb 12:2b-3 NIV).