Psalm One is in many ways the introduction to all one hundred and fifty Psalms. In the first three verses we are introduced to the happiness of those who follow God and the next three verses reveal the misery of the wicked. David had danced on both sides of this coin and knew well of what he spoke.
1 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers,
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night,
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed translates the Hebrew word esher which has as its base meaning the idea of happiness or contentment. It is thus only in a right relationship with God that we may find actual happiness. It is important for us as Christians to remember that happiness is never the end game for a Christian. Happiness is always the byproduct of our Christian walk with God.
True happiness according to David is found in delight and meditation upon the law of the LORD. People reading the word law in this verse often believe that the role of a Christian is to meditate and delight on the Ten Commandments. But the law of the LORD is much bigger than that; it encompasses the entire Scripture. We are being told that if we really long to be happy then we only find the meaning of happiness in knowing God as revealed through His Word.
We live in a culture where happiness is hunted for and treated like a commodity. People say, “I only want to be happy,” and then strive for it through activity. Happiness as a commodity always lets us down because it never lasts. When we are young beauty is equated with happiness but add seventy years to those teen years and beauty becomes something deeper than toned bodies. But what would the cosmetic and plastic surgery industries do without people still holding on to the idea that happiness is found in beauty?
If we make happiness our god then we will never truly obtain it, but if we make God our God then happiness will always be the result. Why is this possible? Because a Christian “is like a tree planted by streams of water.” The roots of the tree go deep down into the water and in times of drought there is still water for that tree to live, have green leaves, and fruit in season.
A Christian has deep roots going into the Word of God and it is there that we receive our nourishment to survive the bad things life throws our way. Our strength, our joy, and our happiness doesn’t come from owning things, playing all the time, or even from each other. Real sustainable happiness is an inward experience that gives assurance that we are unconditionally loved regardless of where we stand “status wise” in this world.
When, like a tree by a river, we drink deep of the “living water,” we are nourished and prosper. There is no time to waste listening to the “counsel of the wicked” because they do not have happiness and can’t obtain it until they discover the grace, love, forgiveness and mercy of God.
Notice we can “stand” in the ways of sinners or “sit” in the seat of scoffers. Happiness is never found by doing things that are contrary to God’s will nor is it found in criticism and sarcasm. There is a path that a Christian will not stand on and a seat he will not sit in. Instead we should meditate upon the counsel found in Psalm 16:11, “Thou does show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for everyone.”
The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon I believe got it right when he wrote, “Man must have some delight, some supreme pleasure. His heart was never meant to be a vacuum. If not filled with the best things, it will be filled with the unworthy and disappointing.” We either fill our heart with the delight of knowing God or we fill it with scoffing, wickedness, and indifference. The former brings happiness and the latter brings disappointment. We can measure our delight in the LORD by simply asking ourselves how much we hunger for God.
Please don’t think I’m laying guilt on you if you are not spending long hours in the Bible and in prayer. That is not what I am saying at all. What I’m getting at is that true happiness comes from being in relationship with God, putting your whole trust in Him. A false happiness, or a fleeting happiness is the result of depending upon externals and material things for happiness.
It is, however, true that the more we yearn for God the more time we will spend with Him, but there is no formula for that. And it is true as well that the more time we spend pursuing happiness as a commodity the less time we will spend with God and His word.
Those people who put down roots into knowing God have two things happen to them. They yield fruit in season and have leaves that never wither. The person who finds their happiness in God bears the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) The fruit comes naturally because it is fed from the living water that soars up through the roots planted in the refreshing river and brings life to the tree. There is no striving for this fruit it is the natural result of the tree being planted by the river.
Brown and withered leaves are signs of death, but for the Christian the leaves never wither or lose their life. To know Jesus is to prosper because we have assurance in His wonderful promises. The prosperity mentioned in verse three is not about getting material riches because they never bring true happiness, but instead are about the riches that come from knowing Jesus as a personal friend.
One last thing, the word blessed (happiness) is plural in Hebrew and refers to a multitude of happiness that comes to us through so many avenues in God’s plan for our lives.
* All’s quiet in the front…really? Just because it’s hardly reported in the news these days doesn’t mean it’s not happening anymore. Many people around the globe are STILL experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death. They need our support and continuous prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet but you have to search for it