*The Supreme Happiness of Believers Whose Lives Obey God’s Word (Psalm 119:1-8)*
/Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on September 21, 2008/
I want you to please take God’s wonderful Word and turn to Psalm 119 and our text this morning is the first 8 verses.
Last week we introduced ourselves to this chapter, that I am calling “the Grand Canyon of Scripture’s Greatness and Sufficiency” and if you weren’t here last week, I would encourage you to get that message to orient yourself to the series we will be doing on this incredible psalm that I pray will change all our lives in some way.
I am excited and hope you’ll catch it as we study this psalm verse-by-verse, one stanza each week, through the end of this year and the start of next year.
If you see the heading “Aleph” in your Bible before v. 1, as we said before, that means each verse in the original language for v. 1-8 began with that same first letter of the Hebrew alphabet all the way down.
Next week we’ll look at the stanza of vv.
9-16, which has the heading “Beth” (and each of those verses began with that letter in the Hebrew text).
As most of you are also aware, essentially every line in this psalm refers to Scripture by one of many synonyms (law, testimony, precepts, statutes, etc.).
*1* How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the Lord.
2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all /their /heart.
3 They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.
4 You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep /them /diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.
7 I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
8 I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!
Happiness is the universal longing and desire of men and women in any culture in any age.
Our country’s Declaration of Independence said near the beginning: “We hold these truths to be *self-evident*, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed *by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights*, that among these are Life, Liberty and the *pursuit of Happiness*.”
A self-evident God-given unalienable right to pursue happiness is part of the very founding and fabric of our society.
As you’re well aware, though, modern Americans pursue happiness in all the wrong places apart from God’s instruction [it should be noted that many of the founders of our nation rightly understood that the pursuit of happiness was to be found in God and His Word].
Unfortunately, fallen man thinks happiness will come with the right wealth, or possessions, or respect, or the power to do what they want without constraints, or to find love that is unconditional.
But in our sin-saturated world, sin-soaked, sin-sick world, much mere human happiness is short-lived, elusive, and sin manages to mess with even the best this life has.
This psalm is not /against/ happiness.
This /book/ is not against happiness.
In fact, it is written to increase our happiness, and to gives us true happiness, or as the word “blessed” in v. 1 can even be translated: “supremely happy.”
Not to be confused with the natural happiness of this world (dependent on what’s /happening/), this is an other-worldly supernatural joy in any circumstance, a joy in and from our Lord who says “These things I have spoken to you, that *my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full*” (Jn 15:11).
/“These things we write you *that our joy may be full”*/ (1Jn 1:4).
Full joy ~/ happiness is possible, this psalm tells us from the get-go, and this is where it is found, in this book.
And the psalmist knows it firsthand, as we read many different expressions of a man happy in God and His Word (if you prefer other words, they’re also here):
*Delighting* in the Word (v.
*Loving* the Word with passion (v.
God’s Word is the great *joy* of his heart (v.
He *rejoices* at God’s Word (v.
He’s more happy in God’s Word than gold or riches, etc.
The first two lines of Psalm 119 reiterate that this blessed (literally “happy” state) is to be found and pursued in God and His Word.
*TITLE: The Supreme Happiness of Believers Whose Lives Obey God’s Word*
The Double Blessing of an Obedient Lifestyle (v.
2. The Duty of an Obedient Lifestyle (v.
3. The Determination of an Obedient Lifestyle (v.
/First, the Double Blessing of an Obedient Lifestyle /(v.
You’ll notice the word “lifestyle” in each of the points today.
That’s because the language of this stanza is about life patterns:
- the root words for walk (/halak /) and way (/derek/), common OT metaphors for the pathways of life appear 5x here
- In these 8 opening verses, there are also six occurrences of terms emphasizing obedience (hence “obedient lifestyle”)
- Those who know and study the Hebrew say the clear theme ‘of these introductory verses reveals itself to be life-style obedience … similar to the relationship of Ps 1 to the rest of the Psalter; there is an introductory emphasis upon life-style obedience’
*BLESSED* – first word in v. 1 in the orig.
It’s an exclamation of happiness, so some translations have “/How /blessed” or even “/O how /blessed” – an emphatic expression.
One paraphrase has “/How rewarding/ is the life” or it could be “/what supreme happiness”/!
This is a deep divine delight, a godly God-given happiness, a deep-seated joy from God to those in relationship with Him, whose chief goal is to glorify God and also to enjoy Him (incl. in His Word).
Verse 2 also begins with the same word.
It is repeated for emphasis – there is a double blessing on those who walk in the law of the Lord.
They are doubly blessed.
But notice verse 2 tells us it is a wholehearted seeking.
Not half-hearted begrudging passion-less religion.
This psalm will often speak of how the whole heart and affections and delight for God and His Word are what cause him to meditate on Scripture which he loves supremely and rejoices in.
These first two verses have been likened to two door-keepers that welcome us to this psalm, and they really summarize the dominant message of Psalm 119 – that there is a supreme happiness (not to confused with superficial happiness of unbelievers), there’s a /joy of the Lord/ that is the strength of those who love and live the Word.
These blessed ones in Psalm 119 are introduced as undefiled or blameless, and that word “blameless” is used of those who like Job avoid or shun evil.
Their way is God’s perfect way, not the world’s way.
With that in mind, listen to how the first two verses of the entire book of Psalms begins:
Psalm 1:1-2 How *blessed* [/first word in entire book of Psalms/] is the man
*who does not walk* in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path [*/way /*/– same word as in Ps 119:1/] of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2But his delight is in the *law of the Lord* [/also used in Ps 119:1/],
And in His *law* he meditates day and night.
This is how the entire book of Psalms begins, with this first word “blessed” or “supremely happy.”
Psalm 1 states the truth negatively, while Psalm 119 states it positively, but it is the same essential truth that both begin with: happiness ~/ blessedness is here!
This very word “happy” or “blessed” is not only the first word of the Psalms, and this great Psalm, it is also how the first sermon of Jesus begins in the New Testament, with this same first word /blessed /in the original language, a word for supreme happiness:
*Matthew 5:3 “/Blessed /are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”*
This clearly transcends the normal usage of happiness.
Most of our world would think it is those rich in material things who are happy – Jesus says it is the poor in spiritual things who are supremely happy.
This word for spiritually poor is literally a poverty when it comes to spiritual value or accomplishments.
Jesus is talking of those who not only are, but recognize they are spiritually destitute, spiritually bankrupt, lowly spiritual beggars who are so pathetic and helpless that they can’t even work, their only hope is for the kindness of others to give to their empty hands.
The world would say the key to a happy and fulfilled life is a high self-esteem and thinking highly of yourself – Jesus says it starts with thinking lowly of yourself spiritually in light of who you are and who God is.
It’s realizing you have nothing and are nothing apart from His grace, your best righteous deeds are filthy rags to God.
You have nothing to bring, nothing to offer, all you can do is beg for Someone else to give what you don’t have.
Jesus is saying, “that is the only type of person who is going to heaven” (the v. can literally read “/theirs and theirs alone is the kingdom of heaven/”).
It’s only those who recognize their lack of accomplishment or value or goodness or effort of their own.
No one will be in heaven who has not come to that place of self-emptied repentant faith.
Jesus goes on to say, the blessed, the supremely happy ones, are those who mourn over their sin, and who are humble, and who hunger and thirst for a righteousness they do not have.
That’s what marks those who are going to heaven, who will inherit the new earth, who will see God, who will be in the kingdom, and so on.
The double-blessing is repeated in multiple ways by Christ.
The first word of the gospel is the same as the first word in the book of psalms, the worship book of Israel.
It is the first word in Psalm 119, which extols the blessedness of God’s Word, and in every case this supreme happiness can only be found in those who have experienced the salvation of God and His divine blessedness.
Psalm 32 also has the same first word and further develops why we have such supreme happiness, and it is again spiritual in nature, not material possessions.
I want you to notice that the first two verses of Psalm 32 begin with the same word as the first 2 verses of Ps. 119, pronouncing a twofold happiness, a double blessedness
\\ Psalm 32:1-2 (NASB95)