GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
(Read Psalm 1)
If you are on the right path, God’s path, happiness will come. It cannot be otherwise.
The Hebrew word for “blessed” in Psalm 1 also means happy, whole, and full. Wherever it is used in the Old Testament, it always appears in the plural; literally, HAPPINESS-ES. When God blesses and gives happiness, He always does so in the plural—richly, abundantly, beyond measure.
God Wants You to Be Happy
When facing problems, we often conclude that God is not interested in our happiness; worse, that God is preventing our happiness. After all, if God cared about our happiness, He would give us this and prevent that. Yet, do we ever consider that God may not give us this or that precisely because He does want our happiness?
The psalmist wrote, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) Does this sound as if God wants us to be miserable? No. God wants our happiness. In a sense, He wrote that message in the blood of His Son and nailed it to the cross. And the type of happiness God wants for us is not the cheap, bargain-brand happiness peddled by the world, but all the happiness, wholeness, and fullness found in the biblical word blessed.
God’s Promise of Happiness Is for Everyone
“I guess I was never meant to be happy.” Have you ever said this? You’re not alone. Yet, such a bleak outlook on life is not compatible with the happy wisdom of Psalm 1. The first verse of this psalm does not say “happy is the rich man” or “happy is the Harvard man,” but rather “happy” (blessed) is the man—that is, happy is EVERYONE—who turns to God and follows His Happiness Plan.
Only God’s Way Leads to Happiness
Psalm 1 describes two very different approaches to happiness: that of the godly man, verses 1-3; that of the ungodly man, verses 4-5; and in verse 6 the inevitable outcome of each way: “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Only God’s way leads to happiness. Every other way, no matter how attractive or seemingly harmless or well-paved, will never result in happiness. If you are on the right path, God’s path, happiness will come. It cannot be otherwise.
At Times, Happiness Means Saying “No”
The world lives by the mantra, “Whatever makes you happy, man.” But Psalm 1 reminds us that saying “no” to some things is as essential as saying “yes” to others. “Happy (blessed) is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” (Psalm 1:1)
Listening to bad advice, visiting bad places, and keeping bad company will never bring happiness—only harm. To think otherwise is to jeopardize our happiness and endanger our faith. “Oh, c’mon. It’s only one little step down the Ungodly Path.” Yes, but according to Psalm 1, a step can lead to walking, walking to standing, standing to sitting, sitting to staying, and staying to perishing.
Happiness Comes from a Deep, Daily Study of Scripture
Of the happy man, Psalm 1 states: “He delights in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2) The word law in this verse refers to all of God’s Word, not simply the commandments. And the Hebrew word translated “meditates” literally means “to study while mumbling”; that is, talking to oneself while deeply contemplating the meaning of Scripture.
The deeper we dig into Scripture, the more treasures we unearth. The more treasures we unearth, the more blessed we are. The more blessed we are, the happier we will be.
Mark Weis is pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Lemmon, South Dakota.