Scripture Claims to Make Us Happy

October 31, 2017

The very first word of the very first Psalm is blessed. The Hebrew origin of our English word blessed sounds something like Asher (the name, incidentally, we chose for our firstborn son!) and it means happy. That first Psalm claims that the one whose “delight is in the law* of the Lord” and the one who continually “meditates” on that law is happy. Vv1-2

That same claim is everywhere in the Psalter. Psalm 119 opens this way:

Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in His ways! Ps 119:1-3

From Psalm 1 and Psalm 119 we see that the choice to delight in God’s words is also necessarily the choice to believe and obey those words.

I remember getting lost driving through Detroit shortly after moving to the downriver suburbs. This was in 2004, so pre iPhone days. I had no GPS, no Siri and the road map atlas in the the glove compartment was very little comfort to my panicking mind. I was new to the area; I was young, white, and ignorant. Other than its being dubbed the Motor City, I knew only two things about Detroit. I knew about the race riots of the 60’s and the ongoing racial tensions since, and I knew how in recent years Detroit had distinguished itself as being the murder capitol of the country. So there I was–low on gas, very much lost and very much afraid. When I finally found an exit for I 94, it was like coming home. I relaxed, I laughed, and I thanked God. I was so happy to be on the right path once again. My delight in that moment is a little like the delight we find in the truth of God’s Word after lingering long in the darkness and deceitfulness of sin. When we read Scripture with belief and obedience we experience a spiritual homecoming. Our paths are once again straight and the way forward is clear. This delight is not the self-satisfaction of moral superiority, but it’s the soul-satisfying delight found only in sweet communion with God our Father and in living the life He designed us to live. True happiness–or the blessed life–is found when we encounter God in his Word, believe what he says and in faith obey it.

Maybe you don’t yet have the faith to believe and obey. And so consider another claim the Scriptures make–a claim to create faith and to grow it. Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ.” The New Year is almost upon us. In this new year, pick up the Bible, begin to read and test the claims it makes.

 

 

*The law in the Psalms is referring to the Torah, which includes the Pentateuch or the first five books of the OT Scriptures, or it can simply be a reference to the Mosaic law. Since the NT writers themselves equate their writings with Scripture, we can extend the meaning of the Psalmist’s law to include all of God’s instructions–including the rest of the OT and all of the New. Therefore, what the Psalmists says about the law is applicable to the entirety of Scripture.

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