The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. (Psalm 24:10, NASB)
Perhaps my favorite Christmas hymn is Isaac Watts’s majestic “Joy to the World!” set to Handel’s regal strain:
Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King.
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing!
I’ve often wondered, though, how did this hymn, with these lyrics, end up in our Christmas playlist? It sounds more like a proclamation of Christ’s second coming than a celebration of His birth. How does the incarnation of the divine Son of God relate to the redemption of the physical creation itself?
David brings these ideas together beautifully in Psalm 24, giving us insight into the profound theology of “Joy to the World!” That Psalm begins with the foundational confession that the earth—and all it contains—belongs to the Lord, both “the world, and those who dwell in it” (24:1). In light of this truth, Isaac Watts could write:
Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy.
Psalm 24 reflects not only on God as Creator (Psalm 24:1–2) but also on God as Savior (24:3–6). It reminds us of the critical truth that righteousness comes not from our own works, but “from the God of salvation” (24:5).
Yet both God as Creator of the world and God as Savior of His people find their fulfillment in God as mighty King (24:7–10). Though David didn’t have a name for this One who would enter through the ancient gates after conquering in battle, we know today that the King of glory, who is also the Lord of hosts, is none other than Jesus. By His incarnation and birth in Bethlehem—as God and man—He eternally united both heaven and earth and gives salvation to everyone who receives Him. Therefore, we sing those rousing words at Christmas: “Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing.”