I have seen a post in social media a couple times recently, with the headline reading something to the effect of: “I’m supposed to be happy.” I have yet to actually read through whatever it is that the post is about…an advertisement or a news article/report–I’m not even sure. But this post makes me think about our (humanity’s) desire for happiness. And it’s more than a desire, it can even seem to come across as a right: “It’s my RIGHT to be happy!”
The problem with happiness is that, in the usual sense of the word, it is fleeting. It comes and goes, and usually based on our circumstances. For example, I may be happy when I have an extra day off, but not happy when I have to go back to work. I’m happy when my spouse does what I want her to do, but not happy when things don’t go my way in the house. And on and on. But isn’t it my RIGHT to be happy? If so, I should just keep finding places/people/circumstances that make me happy, and get rid of/leave/run away from all those places/people/circumstances that don’t.
In Psalm 1, the psalmist says:
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
The original word for “blessed” can also be translated as “happy.” The one who flees from evil ways, who keeps their life in line with God’s ways, and who chooses to regularly spend time getting to know God through reading and meditating (focusing upon, thinking about intentionally) on His Word (the Bible) will be happy (blessed, or filled with joy). Or perhaps we can understand this more as a description of the person who is happy–a person who turns away from bad things (actions, intentions, thoughts, company, etc.) and focuses their attention upon God is happy.
This view of happiness, from the perspective of the person writing this psalm, should change our whole perspective on our lives and what it means to live out each day. Rather than seeking for all those situations/people/things that make me happy (and I think we know that sometimes what makes us “happy” isn’t really good for us) I should consider the way of living that God describes as the blessed/happy/joy-filled life. Does this description in Psalm 1 describe you? If not, consider what that means.
The psalmist finishes the psalm this way:
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
The life of the blessed/happy/joy-filled person is described, in verse 3, like a tree by streams of water (picture that tree you would climb up in as a kid, the one that was sturdy, strong, and full of life). But the person who seeks out ways which are contrary to the blessed/happy/joy-filled life described above is like chaff (the stalks from grain that has been picked, which blows away when the wind comes).
Life is short and, for followers of Christ, we have been given a purpose. Don’t waste another day living a chaff-life. Hear how Jesus describes the two ways of living out life and choose for yourself which way you will go:
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:46-49)
Chaff-living with no foundation OR Tree-life with a strong foundation: which will it be for you? I encourage you–read the Bible, pray, and take these words to heart: choose the “blessed” (happy, joy-filled) way!
I also thought I would share this video I made back in 2009 regarding Psalm 1. I hope it is helpful.