Psalm 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

Several writers, all smarter than I am, understand the river in verse 4 of Psalm 46 as the grace of God or as God Himself, and the city of God as the church. The point then is that God’s grace brings great joy to His people. The church is the habitation of God. Hard to argue with that.

But I also wonder if we could not understand the city of God as the dwelling place of God in heaven, and not just as the church. It seems legitimate to me to see in this Psalm the fact that the marvelous grace of God brings great rejoicing to all who dwell in heaven. Jesus taught that when one sinner repents there is great rejoicing in the presence of the angels in heaven. In the parable of the Good Shepherd Jesus concludes:

Luke 15:7 – Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

At the conclusion to the parable of the lost coin Jesus concludes:

Luke 15:10 – Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

And at the conclusion to the parable of the Prodigal Son Jesus closes the parable by having the father say to the embittered older son:

Luke 15:31-32 -“‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. [32] It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ “

Follow the progression of these three parables (which may all be just three different aspects of one parable). In the parable of the Good Shepherd Jesus says that there will be rejoicing in heaven. In the Lost Coin He says that there will be rejoicing before the angels. And in the Prodigal Son the father says “It was fitting to celebrate…”.

Who, in that parable is celebrating? Everyone except the older son. Who called for the celebration? Who is the most excited? Who is leading the way in rejoicing over the return of this wayward son? The father himself. When a sinner repents there is rejoicing in heaven, before the angels, by God Himself.

Back to Psalm 46. “There is a river” – the Gospel, “whose streams make glad the city of God” – The Gospel accomplishing what God guaranteed it would results in God Himself rejoicing. God rejoices over the victory, the power, the saving goodness of His work in saving sinners. God Himself rejoices when sinners repent. What a stunning thought this is!

Dear believer. Meditate on this astounding truth: God rejoices over the power of His Gospel. And God rejoices in the love of the Gospel. And God rejoices over the product of the Gospel – you. Your coming to faith in Christ and repentance has made Him glad. He has thrown a party. He has dressed you in the best robes in the household – His. And He will allow nothing or no one to detract from the celebration that your coming to Christ in faith should cause.

Then think of this: if this is how God responds when just one sinner repents, what must heaven be like every day when tens of thousands of lost people put their faith in Jesus Christ?

Now then – how can you not serve a God like that with everything you have? How can you not love that God with all your heart and soul and mind? May the fact that God is glad for you cause you to serve Him with great vigour today.