Study 1 THE SECRET OF TRUE HAPPINESS
(Scripture Portion: Psalm 1)
In this series of studies we have selected ten psalms out of the 150 contained in the Book of Psalms, and we shall seek to discover their message. These will thus be, in the title of our series: Meditations in the Psalms.
Psalm 1 forms an introduction to the whole psalter. It shows us the secret of true happiness – and who does not want to learn that secret? There is an idea abroad that God does not want us to be happy. This, of course, is the Devil’s lie, though unfortunately even some Christians half believe it. But God wants us to be happy. See how the psalm opens: “Blessed is the man… ”, which translated literally reads: “Oh, the blessedness of the man …”; it means that the blessing of God will be upon the good man described in this psalm - look up Proverbs 10:22. Surely that is enough - “wealth …no trouble”! Compare Matthew 5:1-12. God wants us to be happy and in this psalm He gives us a picture of the happy man and then tells us why he is happy.
1. GOD’S PICTURE OF THE HAPPY MAN
If we ask, What is the blessed, or happy, man like? verse 3 tells us. “He is like… ”, and then follows a seven-fold description of the godly man, the believer, the Christian. We introduce these characteristics by the seven key-words so helpfully suggested by the late Dr W. Graham Scroggie.
- 1. Vitality: “a tree… ” This denotes life, and the happy man, the true Christian, has received a new life (John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:1), a divine life (2 Peter 1:4).
- 2. Security: “a tree planted …” This suggests a carefully chosen tree, cared for and cultivated. The life of the happy man is secure in Christ (Colossians 3:3) - and John 10:28!
- 3. Capacity: “planted by streams of water… ” What does a tree need most? Moisture. Is there sufficient? Yes - “rivers” (KJV)! In Christ the happy man has all that he needs for time and eternity - look up Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 2:9-10.
- 4. Fertility: “which yields its fruit …” The happy man is fruitful - he brings forth the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). See also John 15:16.
- 5. Propriety: “fruit in season… ” How wonderful this is! This man brings forth the right fruit at the right time; that is, patience in suffering, faith in trial, joy in prosperity, etc.
- 6. Perpetuity: “whose leaf does not wither… ” The new life received by the happy man is eternal life (John 3:15), and his fruit abides (John 15:16). Look up 2 Corinthians 5:1 and 1 John 2:17.
- 7. Prosperity: “Whatever he does prospers.” This is the sum of all the other six. Compare Genesis 24:1 and Romans 8:28.
2. THE SECRET OF THE HAPPY MAN’S HAPPINESS
Is there a secret? Yes! It is clearly stated, first negatively and then positively, in verses 1 and 2. It is a four-fold secret:
- 1. Repentance. This is implied in verse 1 by the three words “not”, “or”, “or”. All have sinned (Romans 3:23), but the happy man has repented of his sin. Repentance is “a change of mind that leads to a change of action” (Isaiah 55:7). So it must be complete – a turning from the counsel of the wicked, from the way of sinners and from sitting with the mockers. (Notice, before we leave verse 1, three names for the unhappy man; also, the subtle progression of sin - “walking…standing…sitting.”)
- 2. Faith. This is indicated in verse 2. This man is now happy because he has turned from verse 1 to verse 2; from sin to God, to Christ; to the will, the word and the way of the Lord. He is now a man of faith. But he is also a man of:
- 3. Obedience. “His delight is in the law of the Lord”; therefore he is a man of obedience, and faith plus obedience brings true happiness.
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
- 4. Communion. Verse 2 tells us that this man is made and kept happy because he meditates day and night in the Word of God. This speaks of true fellowship with God - which is the fourth and final secret of true happiness.
So, to anyone who is seeking true happiness, here are the steps: Repentance, Faith, Obedience and Communion. This concludes our study – but the psalm does not finish there. Notice:
3. THE SOLEMN PATH AND PROSPECT OF THE UNHAPPY MAN
Unbelievers are described as the wicked (verses 1, 4, 5), sinners (verses 1 and 5), and mockers (verse 1). Notice that:
- 1. The path, the position and the prospect of the unbeliever is quite different from that of the believer (verse 4).
- 2. The unbeliever is like “chaff” – no life, no vitality, no fruitfulness, no security, no stability – no value (verse 4).
- 3. The unbeliever will be condemned in the Judgment (verse 5).
- 4. The unbeliever will be separated from the believer (verse 5).
- 5. The unbeliever will perish (verse 6; John 3:16).
Are you happy, or unhappy? Blessed, or un-blessed? Have you passed from death to life and entered into true happiness? If not, read “The Secret of the Happy Man’s Happiness” again, and make each of the four steps your own.