Verse four of “Joy to the World” completes the biblical worldview contained in this Christmas hymn. This last verse is a dynamic testimony to the power of the gospel. The King:
who was anticipated in the first verse,
celebrated for his rule in the second verse,
and viewed as the Savior of this sin-cursed world in third,
now is praised for bringing a just judgment to the world.
Life often appears to be unfair and unjust. Will evil people prevail? Will the hard things in your life ever be resolved? Corruption and perversion are everywhere. The Holy Spirit says there is no need to despair at the apparent inequities of life! What wonderful peace flows from the reality that King Jesus rules with truth and grace. The awesome might of God is proclaimed. He will make the nations affirm that his righteousness.
Here is how Watts says it:
He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love…
Christ’s rule is one of wonder. This magnificent hymn intertwines God’s judgment and his love. Without God’s love, there would only be fear of judgment, and without God’s judgment, there would be no meaning to his love. Watts’ words show the beauty of Psalm 98 in this light. The psalmist proclaims that that reason for joy is that the King, Jesus Christ, will judge the world with righteousness and that each of us will be treated with equity. Here is the end of the Psalm:
Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
Life is hard and can seem horribly unfair. But our King will judge with equity, righteousness, and love. Things will be made right. No one will get away with anything. Payment will be exacted. But for God’s people there will be peace, as the angels proclaimed to the shepherds. The creation longs for the judgment of the King. The peoples of the earth will acknowledge the wonder of this judgment—some through cries of terror and others through cries of joy and gratitude.
So, there it is—a concise, powerful way to understand your world. You know the words! Christ is the longed-for King. He now rules all things, and that is good. Yes, there is sorrow and sin, but your King conquers the curse as far as it is found. And finally, because of his love for his Father, Christ’s sacrifice means that a righteous judgment results in joy for his people.
When you sing “Joy to the World” the next time, I pray the words will bring rich joy to you and your children. Truly, each day is a day to proclaim Joy to the World.