The Pursuit of Happiness

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), July 6

images“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 scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he mediates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).

A passion to know God through meditating on His Word. Happiness. The two go hand in hand. The one who meditates on God through His Word “is like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither” (Psalm 1:3).

Six of the Psalms begin with the words, “Blessed [or “How happy…”] is the man . . .” (Ps. 1; 32; 41; 112; 119; 128). And at least eight other Psalms describe the man who is blessed or happy (2:12; 32:12; 34:8; 40:4; 84:4-5, 12; 89:15; 94:12; 106:3). In each of these psalms the Word of God plays a central role in this “blessed” or “happy” man’s life.

The writer of Psalm 1 understands that genuine happiness is found in aligning himself with God, HIs Word, and His purposes for his life—not in seeking his own way. These verses reveal several truths about happiness:

  • To delight in the Word of God is to delight in God Himself. To obey His instructions is to drink from the fountain of life—the “tree planted by the rivers of water”—and experience spiritual vitality.
  • Genuine happiness is a state of the heart—spiritual vitality—not the state of the emotions. Therefore, emotions are not reliable gauges of happiness. The peace that permeates the heart and mind set upon God and His word surpass emotional happiness.
  • The man who listens to the advice of the wicked may find temporary happiness as he indulges the demands of the flesh, but that initial emotional “high” soon rots the soul and leads to death—“the way of the ungodly shall perish” (1:6b).
  • The battle for men’s souls has not changed since the garden of Eden. The forbidden “thing” that the world promises to bring happiness (obtaining what the eyes see and what the appetite wants, and living independently of God and His Word) “brings forth its fruit in its season”. It always promises what it cannot deliver—peace and joy— but, it only produces fear, shame, guilt, and eventually, death.
  • The wicked, more often than not, outnumber the righteous. Therefore, it is a battle to resist the current of public opinion and appropriate God’s Word instead.

The enemy is an illusionist—transforming evil into good by falsely advertising happiness, the majority as right, and making good appear boring and unfulfilling. Delighting in the Word day and night enables the righteous to detect the enemy behind the illusion—and run.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Ps. 1; 2; 10; 33; 71; 91):

What does Psalm 2 reveal about human nature and how good government should work?
What does Psalm 10 reveal about wicked men? How should righteous people respond to those who are wicked?
Describe the contrast between the wicked in Psalm 10 and the righteous in Psalm 33, Psalm 71 and Psalm 91?