PSALM 1: HOW DO I FIND TRUE HAPPINESS?

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Happy are those
    who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
    or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
    planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
    and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
4 The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.
PSALM 1, NRSV

When you read the Psalms, you ought to hear them aloud. Wait, the whole Bible was originally read aloud! So, always consider reading the word aloud to one another in families, groups, and congregations.

So we start Psalms today. We'll be here for many weeks and go through them and learn about them, but more we'll experience them.

Maybe you came to this blog today because the title asked, "How do I find true happiness?" Yes, Psalm 1 addresses genuine happiness in life and the binary path. We try to avoid binary options these days, seeking a unitive and not divisive path. But at the beginning of the Psalms, there is a clear binary choice: happy is the person who does not listen to counsel of evil people. Happy is the person who does not follow the example of people who hate people and God. 

The person who loves Torah (the Hebrew word for the law or teachings of God), who thinks about them day and night is like a tree planted by a river and produces fruit.

On the other hand, the choice of evil people is not like that. The psalmist compares them to chaff, that blows away and is useless. The person who does not seek or listen to God's word, who follows the example of the wicked will not escape God's punishment. 

If this frightens you, know this: God knows the way of the righteous but destroys the evil people. Does that mean if I am not happy I must be wicked? No. When you don't feel happy, there could be many causes, including relational, emotional, psychological, and choices we make. 

What is clear is that we can do one thing to seek true happiness. Seek the word, the counsel, the life of the Lord. In this we are promised happiness. Pursue this and a deep happiness starts to emerge in your life over time. It's not a selfish happiness or one that seeks selfish ends, but a happiness that is born of learning that oneness, unity with God is the goal of all life.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” 
― Frederick BuechnerWishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

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Greg Taylor

Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.

 
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