“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (Psalm 1:1)
Psalm 1 opens the Book of Psalms by plainly stating what it is in life that brings true happiness. The word translated here as blessed may more accurately be rendered as happy, as versions such as the Christian Standard Bible read. We see here in the NASB the word How preceding blessed because the term in the original is emphatic or stressed. “How very happy is the man…” might be a good way to open the verse and the entire Book of Psalms itself.
Ask most people what leads to pure happiness and it is doubtful that many will tell you that joy is found in obedience to the precepts of God. But that is exactly what the Psalmist is saying. Rather than counseling us, as the world does, to “go with the flow”, “make friends and be popular”, or “do your best to fit in”, we are told the opposite. The happy man does none of these things but separates himself from the actions of those who are in rebellion against God. Joy and happiness are not to be found in the noisy, crowded bars and nightclubs or at the parties of the rich and famous, but in quiet meditation upon the Word of God.
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)
The law of the Lord is not something with which the happy man is burdened, but it is something wherein he delights. Jesus told His followers to take up His yoke, for it is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Those who believe that obeying God is restrictive and that the Bible doesn’t allow Christians to have fun could not be more mistaken. Life and joy can only be truly found through living by the principles of God’s Word.
“And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.” (Luke 15:13)
The prodigal son of whom Jesus told thought that true happiness was to be found away from his father and by living according to his own desires. He believed that his father’s rules were restrictive and supposed that freedom from the father’s house would bring him joy and pleasure. But it did not. Celebration and rejoicing in our Lord’s parable does not come when the young son heads off to the distant country, but when he returns home (Luke 15:32).
[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]