We’re a nation founded upon the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Ask almost any person what they want out of life, and they will reply, “I want to be happy.” And yet for a people bent on pursuing happiness, we’re not doing so well. Many try to find happiness in love and marriage, but the divorce rate shows that we’re not finding happiness there. Couples hope that having a family will bring them happiness, but often their children cause them more pain than pleasure. Others try to find happiness in a career or in recreational activities. Many try to deaden their pain with alcohol or drugs, but few would admit that they’ve found lasting happiness.
Psalm 1 shows us that to live happily ever after, we must build our lives on God and His Word. The first verse begins with “blessed,” which in Hebrew is a plural of intensity and stems from a verb meaning to go on or advance. If you want to advance to the fullest measure of happiness, the psalmist is going to tell you how.
What NOT To Do (Verse 1)
It’s significant that he begins by telling us some things that the happy person does not do. True happiness is not found in a life that leaves God out and rejects His ways as revealed in His Word.
Walk in the counsel of the ungodly. This refers to a person who lives his life based upon the world’s wisdom. The word “ungodly” comes from a Hebrew word meaning loose or out of joint. It refers to a person who doesn’t take God seriously and thus disregards God’s Word.
Stand in the path of sinners. The path of sinners refers to their way of life or behavior. To stand in the path of sinners means involvement with sinners in their sinful behavior. The word “sinners” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to miss the mark. It refers to deviating from the standard of God as revealed in His Word.
Sit in the seat of scoffers. Scoffers have rejected God and His Word. They now seek to justify themselves by openly deriding that which they’ve rejected. Invariably, scoffers have cast off the Bible because they don’t want God interfering in their sinful lifestyles.
Note the downward progression in the life of sin. There are degrees of departure from God. First, you walk—you’re still moving, but now in the wrong direction. Then, you stand—you’re lingering in sin. Finally, you sit—you’re at ease in the company of scoffers.
What TO Do (Verse 2)
True happiness is found in a life built on God and His Word. Perhaps many of us do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. But how many can say that we delight in the Word of God and meditate on it continually?
What does it mean to delight in God’s Word? The word is used in the Old Testament (Genesis 34:19; Esther 2:14) of a man delighting in a woman. The Bible is God’s love letter to you. You’re reading the counsel of a loving, all-wise Heavenly Father as to how you should live. His commandments are for your blessing and good. It should be no more of a duty to spend time in God’s Word than it is for a young man to spend time conversing with an attractive woman.
We are responsible not only to delight in God’s Word, but also to meditate on it continually. To meditate means to think about what the Word says and how it applies to all of life. Meditation is to reading what digestion is to eating: chewing on it, letting it become part of you. The only way for a person to reject the counsel of the ungodly which bombards him from every side is to be continually meditating on, thinking about, chewing on in his mind, the Word of God and how it applies to life.
The Result: A Blessed Life (Verse 3)
The psalmist describes the person who delights in God’s Word as a tree planted by streams of water. This is a tree that has been deliberately cultivated, surrounded by canals so that its roots have a continual supply of water. It is solid and able to withstand drought or storms. It is fruitful and has continual evidence of life and vitality. There’s a truly happy person: the person God blesses with His prosperity, no matter what circumstances of life he finds himself in. God is not promising financial prosperity here, but rather soul prosperity. God’s servants may be poor in this world’s goods and afflicted by many trials, but they are rich toward God (Luke 12:21), which is true prosperity.
A Blessed Eternity (Verses 4-6)
Perhaps, if you were honest, you’d admit that you question the truthfulness of Psalm 1. You may know people—glamorous, powerful, exciting people—who leave God out of their lives and who seem to be genuinely happy and prosperous. What about that? The psalmist goes on to show that true happiness is only found in a life that takes eternity into account.
God says, “Those who leave Me out of their lives are like chaff.” They have no substance. They may be great before men, but before God they will be blown away like chaff in the final judgment. Their case won’t hold up in God’s court. They won’t be in heaven, where those who have been made righteous through faith in Christ will be assembled. Even though it may not look like it at times, “the Lord knows [is intimately acquainted with] the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” The wicked will be condemned to eternal punishment in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).
The Word of God declares that you are not an accident. You are here as the creation of God, made in His image, designed to find true happiness in Him and in His Word. But, due to your rebellion, as seen in your running your own life rather than in submitting to Christ as Lord, you are alienated from God. He could rightfully judge you, but because of His love and mercy, He sent Jesus Christ to die in your place on the cross. You must turn from your rebellion, trust in Him and accept the pardon He offers. If you will do that and then build your life on God and His Word, you will live happily ever after, both now and throughout eternity!
—Steven J. Cole
In Biblical terms, to be blessed means to be rightly related to God so that your life is fulfilled and you experience deep, personal satisfaction. It’s important to know that this sort of happiness is not related to our circumstances. And it doesn’t come simply by seeking for it. You find happiness not by seeking it, but by doing certain things (and not doing other things). The blessing comes as a side benefit of the choices we make. —Ray Pritchard