A Barbaric Yelp

Trygve and Kristen Johnson

READ : Isaiah 61:8-11

My whole being shall exult in my God. (v. 10)

In the movie Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams plays the role of Mr. Keating, a charismatic teacher. He was determined to teach his students that literature and poetry possess the things we stay alive for: beauty, passion, and truth. In one scene, he takes a shy and awkward student, petrified of speaking and even more terrified of revealing what’s really inside, and has him stand in front of the class to read a poem. The student balks. But Mr. Keating does not let up. He gets in his face and says, “Give me a yelp.” The student yips. “That’s not a yelp,” he says. “Are you a man or an amoeba? I want to hear a barbaric yelp.” In frustration, the student gives a passionate cry from the deep place: “YELP!”

A barbaric yelp is what Isaiah calls for when he writes, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God.” Our whole being! Everything in us praising God! Isaiah anticipates a day when salvation is established and the result is a people who exult in God with their total being. Advent is a season where we prepare for the salvation day by practicing a yelp or two.


God, as salvation comes to us in the incarnation let us exult in you.