An Instruction Manual for Happiness

// Meditation on Psalm 1 //

1 How happy is the one who does not
 walk in the advice of the wicked
 or stand in the pathway with sinners
 or sit in the company of mockers!
 2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
 and he meditates on it day and night.
 3 He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams
 that bears its fruit in its season
 and whose leaf does not wither.
 Whatever he does prospers.
 4 The wicked are not like this;
 instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment,
 nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
 but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

//

Friendship. Money. Sports. Sex. Tacos.

If there is one thing that is most basic about all human beings, is it not this: We all pursue happiness. It’s a natural craving. We cannot escape it, and we all feed this hunger with many things (Including… especially… with all the above).

This Psalm acknowledges that and gives us an instruction manual to be happy:

//

(1:1) “How happy” – The author could have simply said something along the lines of “The one who does good is happy” and that would have been true enough.

But it’s interesting to notice the use of ‘how’ to emphasize that it’s not just simple happiness that a person experiences, but an overwhelming reality of joy. How happy is that person! It cannot be fully described. It overflows.

(1:2) “Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.” — I think this is the anchor of the entire passage.
How is this person so happy? How does he prosper in all he does? (1:3), how does he not drift away like the wicked (1:4), how does he have confidence the Lord watches over him? (1:6). Because his very being delights in the Word of the Lord.

Instead of following the advice, the path, and the company of the people and culture around him (1:1), who promise happiness, he follows the Instruction of God.

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It’s also important to note how the wicked’s fate ends. They are blown away like chaff (1:4) . If indeed there is a God who wrote a book to be read by His followers then we know that there is indeed an instruction manual for this world. He created the world and left us not to follow our own way. This world is always changing. Different worldviews, opinions, and values are pulling our hearts each and every way. And every generation and culture that is born has a different one.

They all ultimately blow away because they are secondary, they are stuck in time, they are transient. The worldviews that hold the most truth hold on for the longest time. But ultimately any worldview created on this dusty ground will return to dust and be carried away by the slightest of breezes. And those who held on to those values will be blown away along with them, like a fleck of dust in the wind.

It is not so for the words of eternal God. He and His words will stand timelessly like an anchor in spacetime, unmoving to the tides of this world. Those who grip onto it’s contours will remain for eternity.

The Mystery of God

When I was younger I was enamored with the mystery of God. I wanted to have profound and intense spiritual emotions and experiences. And I think this was a good but imbalanced approach to relating to God. God is indeed mysterious, His Spirit cannot be tamed, and His love takes many forms. But the Christian life is not all about mysterious spiritual experiences, there are things we can know. And things we can act upon.

God has laid out some very practical ways to live a good life and to be a genuine spiritual person. One of them is this: To delight in God’s Word and to meditate on it day and night. You may find that as you do that, you will find greater pleasure in everyday things like work, leisure, and definitely eating tacos.

An overflow of the reading of His instruction manual is overflowing happiness, comfort in God’s oversight and presence, and prosperity as defined by God.
It’s so clear and helpful, but so hard. Cultivate a love for God’s Word, read it every day, and think about it all the time. That is the way to happiness.
It is for sure more than this, but it is definitely not less.

//

Father, grow in me a deep love for this book you have written. I know it is a book with ordinary words. Yet you, God, wrote it and you give the content its’ power. Lead me to find you in the pages. Anchor me in your ways. Help me to store its’ words in my heart. Holy Spirit teach me and mold me by its’ instruction. Help me to love and cherish you in your Son, Jesus, day by day. Amen.

//

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