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Discovering True Happiness

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Introduction

The great test of man is his relationship to the “law of the Lord.” The godly man accepts it. The ungodly man spurns it.—Peter A. Steveson, Psalms.
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Psalm 1 is a fitting introduction for the Psalter in that it summarizes the two ways open to mankind, the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. It may be classified as a wisdom psalm because of its emphasis on these two ways of life, the use of the similes, the announcement of blessing, and the centrality of the Law for fulfillment in life. The motifs in this psalm recur again and again throughout the collection.

Charles Spurgeon said: “The matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some respects, as the text upon which the whole of the psalms make up a divine sermon.” —C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David
Is this true? Does God really want us to be happy? Absolutely! And this happiness is not temporary, but perpetual. The word translated blessed is plural in the original Hebrew. That is, it means perpetual blessings.
So how can I be happy, truly happy? is called a wisdom psalm because we learn that happiness results from our choice to follow God’s direction of life. In this psalm the writer sets forth two ways of two directions in life. One is the right way that leads to happiness, and the other is the wrong way that leads to misery.
What are the most common ways people seek happiness today? Why?

The Right Way

Psalm 1:1–3 AV 1873
1 Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
captures a fundamental teaching found in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament God teaches His people that one’s choice will determine both the direction and the outcome of your life.
Deuteronomy 30:19 AV 1873
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Matthew 7:13–14 AV 1873
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Choosing the Right Path

First, in we learn that happiness comes by choosing to walk on a righteous path. This determination is directly connected to other people. Each line in this verse tells us to avoid the wrong kinds of interpersonal relationships. Your friends make all the difference in your life.
Notice what the verse says: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly. Choosing the righteous path includes refusing advice from those who hold godless values and whose moral choices violate the laws of God.
Proverbs 14:7 AV 1873
7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, When thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.
Proverbs 14:7 AV 1873
7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, When thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.
prov 14:7
“The people we allow into our close inner circle of friendship will have our ears, and whoever has our ears has a gateway to our hearts.” ~Ponder the Path, Francie Taylor
Here is the quote I mentioned:
“The people we allow into our close inner circle of friendship will have our ears, and whoever has our ears has a gateway to our hearts.” ~Ponder the Path, Francie Taylor
The second line goes a stop further: “nor standeth in the way of sinners.” It is one thing to listen to wicked counsel. It is another to decisively side with that viewpoint. Instead, the happy person refuses to follow the worldly crowd. You don’t see him “hanging out” with those who pursue sin as a lifestyle.
The second line goes a stop further: “nor standeth in the way of sinners.” It is one thing to listen to wicked counsel. It is another to decisively side with that viewpoint. Instead, the happy person refuses to follow the worldly crowd. You don’t see him “hanging out” with those who pursue sin as a lifestyle.
Finally, he refuses to sin and associate with those whose conversations mock and curse God: “nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”If you want to be miserable, make your best friends those who are scornful, critical, and disrespectful.
These three verbs—walk, stand, and sit—show the slippery slope of evil. Evil is not passive. It is ever descending. The longer you go, the worse you get. A pattern of evil choices causes a downward spiral in character that leads to destruction.
The verbs walk, stand, and sit are common activities. The path we take is made up of dozens of ordinary choices every day. Discuss some of those everyday decisions you make, especially the ones involving other people ‘s advice or influence. Who influences you the most in these decisions? (Think especially about social media)
Proverbs 14:7
Proverbs 14:7 AV 1873
7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, When thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.

Hungering for God’s Word

Psalm 1:2 AV 1873
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; And in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Second, declares that happiness comes by developing a strong appetite for God’s Word. We learn to enjoy the Bible by nurturing the disciplined habit of meditation.
Meditation involves a 24/7— “day and night”—focus on the Scripture. This means seeking to understand the Bible’s meaning as well as its application to us personally. The Spirit of God makes the Word of God satisfying to the soul of man. Scripture is “sweeter than honey” () and “more to be desired are they than gold” ().
Joshua 1:7–8 AV 1873
7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
How do these verses help us understand biblical meditation?
In some contexts the word meditate can be translated growl or groan or moan. It conveys the idea of muttering. perhaps you know someone who walks around mumbling to himself. We tend to view such behavior as socially odd. But the reality is that all of us talk to ourselves inside our heads all the time. There is a mental discussion going on continuously. Some people simply express parts of their dialogue audibly. This mental conversation is meditation. God blesses us as we mull over His words day and night.
Psalm 119:9–16 AV 1873
9 BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, That I might not sin against thee. 12 Blessed art thou, O Lord: Teach me thy statutes. 13 With my lips have I declared All the judgments of thy mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate in thy precepts, And have respect unto thy ways. 16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
Ps. 119:
What does this passage teach?
The reason this way of life makes one so happy is that it fulfills the purpose for which we were created. God’s first command to man was to “be fruitful” (). describes the happy man as being “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season: his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (ps. 1:3)
Fruit bearing is the result of deep roots finding an abundant supply of nourishment from underground streams of water. God’s Word is an all-sufficient, eternal supply of empowering grace for all of life. Even during difficult, seemingly barren times, the Word will sustain life.
A fruitful life is a blessed life. So David states that God’s way to happiness is being separated from the world, saturated with the Word, and fruitful and successful in doing God’s will.
It is not coincidental that Jesus begins His Sermon on the Mount with a series of Beatitudes—statements that begin with the same word, blessed. This word means to flourish. Read to fill out the picture of what human flourishing looks like. Notice also that these characteristics are not what our culture typically seeks after.
Matthew 5:3–12 AV 1873
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The Wrong Way

Psalm 1:4–6 AV 1873
4 The ungodly are not so: But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
David goes on in verse 4 to contrast the way of the righteous with the way of the ungodly: “the ungodly are not so.” Spurgeon makes a powerful point when he notes that the Hebrew proposes a double negative: “‘Not so the ungodly, not so.’ Oh! how terrible is it to have a double negative put upon the promises! and yet thi sis just the condition of the ungodly.”
Ungodliness will never, never prosper! In the end ungodly people’s lives are deemed as “chaff.” In other words, they are worthless, lifeless, and useless. They will be driven away by the wind of God’s judgement. They will not dwell with the people of God in the congregation of the righteous ().
At the end of the passage, the psalmist sets forth two directions—the way of the righteous and the way of the ungodly; two decisions—to meditate on God’s Word or to listen to ungodly counsel; and two destinies—the righteous will enjoy God’s presence forever, but the ungodly will perish.
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