Joy in the Bible
In the Old Testament, joy is closely related to victory over one’s enemies. It is also associated with religious acts and feasts, such as sacrifices in Psa 27:6 and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (2 Chr 30; Ezra 6). “Joy” also occurs frequently in songs of praise, most frequently in the book of Psalms (1 Chr 16; Pss 20; 33; 47). The prophets speak of joy, both its being taken away on account of exile (Ezek 24:25; Joel 1:12) and of the joy that will return when the people are restored (Isa 35:10; Jer 31:13).
In the New Testament, “joy” is still used for victory, as shown by the disciples returning with joy since even the evil spirits listened to them (Luke 10:17). However, the victory focuses more on salvation (Luke 15:7)—the presence of Christ, the bridegroom, gives reason for joy (John 3:29). In the New Testament letters, joy is a desired attribute of Christians. Paul expressed frequently the joy he had regarding the salvation of those he was writing to and prayed that they might be full of joy.
Luke recounts in his Nativity story that angels visited some shepherds watching their sheep, and the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid!…. I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior…has been born today in Bethlehem.” Luke 2:10,11.