The Secret of Happiness
Psalm 1 tells us that the secret of happiness lies in how we treat and respond to the law, or the Word. But does this just mean the commands of God? Psalm 119, the longest psalm, could be called an expanded version of Psalm 1. Here the psalmist seems to be worshiping God’s law. “I lift up my hands to thy Word.” Is he worshiping the Bible? No. If you look deeply, you will see that the Word is Jesus. The law is Jesus. The Bible, in essence, is Jesus. When we immerse ourselves in His Word, when we choose to walk in the light of His way, we are walking with Him, we are keeping the way pure between ourselves and Him, we are sinking our roots down—not into our circumstances, but into God Himself. And this is the secret of happiness in the sweet times and in the wilderness times.
If you pursue happiness, you will get neither righteousness nor happiness. But if you pursue righteousness, as Psalm 1 shows us how to do, you will get happiness thrown in.
Psalm 1 is so familiar it is easy to miss its blessing—so slow down, ask the Lord for a fresh vision, and when you see, respond in obedience. You will experience a deep happiness. The word “blessed” implies the deepest happiness—a joy despite circumstances, a satisfaction in being loved, and a fulfillment in finding meaning. That happens when you understand and respond to Jesus—so there is nothing between you and Him. Can you imagine, for example, what would happen to your soul today if when you are tempted to lie or gossip or be lazy you instead chose to put your roots deep into Jesus? Can you even imagine the joy that would begin to slowly well up in you, filling you to overflowing?
Each day, read Psalm 1, asking the Lord to give you fresh insight.
1. Read Psalm 1 as an overview. Using your right brain, picture the contrasting images of a tree planted by the water, and the chaff, or the tumbling tumbleweed blowing in the wind. They contrast two ways of life.
A. Though some might see the chaff as being “freer” than the tree, what is miserable about being chaff?
B. Meditate on the image of the tree planted by the living water. Why would this person be able to experience life and joy even in when the circumstances of life are dry and difficult?
C. Find a translation or paraphrase of Psalm 1:3-4 that brings these two pictures alive for you.
2. Meditate on Psalm 1:1-2.
A. Who is the person who is blessed, or the person who experiences the deepest happiness? What does he not do? What does he do?
B. What are some ways you could delight in the Word better, could contemplate better, could sink your roots down deeper?
3. It is one thing to know in our hearts what is right and quite another to respond to it. I know God hates lies and deceptions, yet I am still tempted to make myself look better to someone with an exaggeration or deception. I also know God wants me to enjoy food, but in moderation. Yet I am still tempted to eat past being satisfied. The idols of my heart in those situations are approval and comfort. Is that who I want as my gods? If I choose them, I will be as miserable as the chaff. But if instead, I choose to allow Jesus to usurp those deceptive gods, I may feel a momentary loss, but then I will feel joy welling up.
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