God Gives the Key to Happiness
August 26-27, 2023
The book of Psalms continues the poetry section of your Bible and, as I mentioned, when we were going through the book of Job, Hebrew poetry is different than English poetry. English poetry rhymes in sound. Hebrew poetry rhymes in thought. For example, English poetry, as I mentioned before, is like roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you, and that is how poems work in English usually. That didn't rhyme but you get my idea. That poem does not sound poetic in French or German or something but you take a Hebrew poem and you can translate it into any language in the world and it will still beautifully be poetry because it rhymes in thought and not in sound.
All right. Now, David wrote most of the Psalms. Well, just under half of them. His worship leader, Asaph wrote 12. The descendants of Korah wrote 10. Solomon wrote 1 or 2. Moses wrote 1, Psalm 90. Some we do not know the author. In Hebrew, the book is called Tehillim, which means in Hebrew praise songs. Our English word Psalms comes out of the Greek translation, and it means songs of praise. Right away, you get a sense that is a book of songs to be sung. Exactly right. In fact, a lot of our modern praise songs are written on the words of some of the most beautiful of the Psalms because it is a book that is meant to be sung.
In fact, some of the songs say, for the instruments so and so, or for the worship leader, thus and so. You get a sense right away it is meant to be sung. This is so important because we were made by God to sing, and the soul resonates in the glory of God when we sing and worship. As the Psalms declare the worship of God, the soul resonates in the glory of God. Do you believe that there will be music in heaven? Oh, it will be glorious. Can you believe that there will be singing in heaven? Oh, the worship of heaven will be amazing.
It makes me think about when we gather at the church for a worship night. You guys are awesome because we will call worship night, the house is full and there is worship. There is amazing worship that is happening here because hearts are alive, and the glory of God is revealed. To me, that is the taste of heaven. That is what heaven will be in many ways. Glorious as we resonate in the glory of God. In fact, in the book of Revelation, it describes that when the Lamb of God takes the book out of the right hand of the Almighty, that the four living creatures and the 24 elders, they fall down before the Lamb, and they worship. They sing a new song. New song, glorious.
Can you just imagine when they sing, "Worthy art thou to take the book and to break its seals for you were slain, and you purchased with God with your blood, men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation and all the angels shout amen." The glory of God revealed in the resonating of worship. Now, Psalm 1, as we turn there, it captures one of the great themes really, not only that runs through the Psalms but really through the entire Word of God, that your soul can be alive. That you can choose the course of life and then you can find a happiness that resides deep in the soul.
Notice, for example, how the book begins, how the chapter begins. O, how blessed is the man? See, this word blessed, now, it's very important to understand, this is not the most commonly used word in Hebrew. There are two main Hebrew words that describe blessing, blessed. The main one is not this one. The main one is the word Barukh. In fact, almost all Hebrew prayers, except for the Shema, begin with the words Barukh ata Adonai. Blessing are thou O, Lord. Blessed. See, that's the word Barukh, and it's the most popular word but it's a very important word to understand.
When the Lord was speaking to Abraham, He said, "I will make you a great nation. I will bless you." See? "I will pour out to you a great blessing." Then He says, "I will make your name great and you will be a blessing." Same word, Baruch. Those who bless Israel will be blessed. Baruch. It is the pouring out. That is not the word here. The word here is the word esher, and it can be translated happy, although it's much, much deeper than that. It is the condition of the heart. It is the condition of the soul. It's much more than a momentary emotional moment of elation. No, it's much deeper than that.
It is the condition of the soul that is contented, that is at peace. There's a peace that passes understanding. The soul is right with God. God is doing a beautiful work on the soul. That is what He means by blessed. Esher. It's a deep, deep word. One of the deepest words in the Hebrew language. Now, it speaks to that many. Well, I would say all people want to be happy. We don't even need to do a show of hands. How many people want to be happy? Everybody wants to be happy because there's a longing for something. There's a deep longing for that soul to be that way, and so people want to be happy.
In fact, nine years ago, I think it was, there was a song that came out that was so popular. It was called Happy by Pharrell Williams. Anybody remember the song? It was a song that made people happy. "Tap along if you feel." It just makes you want to be happy. "If you feel." It's such a happy song. Well, why did people resonate with that? It was number one pretty much in every nation of the world for months. Why? Because people want to be happy. It's a longing, deep desire because most people are not happy. In fact, many surveys, polls have been conducted that show that most people, many people are quite unhappy. They're unhappy with their jobs. They're unhappy with a lot in life. They're unhappy with their life.
At the same time though, the polls and surveys reveal that they haven't thought, they have some ideas as to what would make them happy. "Oh, if I just had enough money. If I just had the job that would create the income stream, thus. If I could just buy a house." A lot of single people think, "Oh, if I could just be married, it would solve all my problems." Oh, there must be married people in the house. In the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
See, in other words, the founding fathers established this nation on the principle that you're guaranteed the right to pursue happiness. Guaranteed the right to pursue it but they don't tell you where to find it. You know why? Because, and this is such a very important point, happiness cannot be found by pursuing it. Happiness cannot be found by pursuing it. See, the problem is that people believe that they can find happiness by what they have or what they do or by pursuing the American dream. "If I could just achieve the American dream, then I would be happy."
See, the problem with the American dream is that as soon as you have it, it's out of date. Well, except for clothes. They have a tendency to come back in 30 years. Although a word of caution, you know those skinny jeans that are so cool today? Yes, they're not going to fit in 30 years. I'm just saying. Then there'll be muffin top jeans. I'm just saying. Happiness cannot be found by pursuing it because happiness is found by pursuing God, and happiness is the result of finding God.
I. Happy is the One Who Does Not Do
It's a much deeper word than just happy. It is the soul that is right with God, there's a peace that passes understanding that God is doing a beautiful work on the soul. That's blessed. That's esher. Let's read it. Psalm 1. We'll read the whole of the Psalm starting in verse one, "Oh, how blessed is the man who does not do." He starts out by saying the negative, "Oh, how blessed you'll be if you do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers." But his delight, "Oh, how blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of God." You might say, "The word of God."
In His law, he meditates day and night. Then it shows the result of that soul that delights in such, "He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water." You might say, "By living water." "Which yields its fruit in its season, its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he prospers." The wicked are not like that. They're not so. They're like chaff, which the wind drives away. "Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the day of judgment. Sinners will not stand in the assembly of the righteous, for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." Notice how He begins or how He ends. "There is a way of the righteous, and there is the way of the wicked." There is a path of life and there's a path of death.
See, this is a tremendously important theme for us. Let's go back and see how God would reveal these principles through our lives. Notice how He begins, "Happy is the one who does not do." See, you'll find happiness in what you do not do. In other words, one of the best ways to solve problems is to prevent them from happening the first place. God wants to keep you from these troubles. You might even reverse this and say, "Miserable is the one who does these things. Happy is the one who does not do."
Over and over, God contrasts the different paths, then He calls you to choose. Choose. There are certain matters in life in which you have a choice. Deuteronomy, "I set before you life and death, now choose." Of course, He then says, "I love you. I want you to choose life, but there is a choice." There are certain matters by which you have choosing.
Now, certainly, there are some things in life you do not choose. Troubles that come seemingly out of nowhere, you had nothing to do with them at all. I understand that. For example, maybe you read in the news some weeks ago about this woman in Texas who was riding her lawnmower in the backyard, minding her own business, mowing her lawn when a snake literally fell from the sky and wrapped itself around her arm. Anybody read this in the news? It's an amazing story. She's minding her own business in the backyard, mowing her lawn. Snake falls from the sky, wraps itself around her arm, and she is of course trying to get it off of her arm, but it won't let go, and it's trying to strike her in the face. She's got glasses on. She's trying to shake this and it won't let go.
Now, you think that's bad enough, oh, but then a hawk comes swooping down and lands on her arm trying to wrap the snake off of her arm. Now she's trying to get both of them off her arm. The snake is trying to bite the hawk and her, and the whole thing finally ends when the hawk snatches the snake and flies off with it. She was minding her own business. Then she runs to her husband. He's in the front yard and she gives him an amazing story of what amazing things happened. Then, of course, they run to the emergency room. By the way, she was fine. The story ended well with her. I should tell you, the end of the snake was not so good, but that's the end of the story.
A. Do not walk in the counsel of the wicked
See, in other words, yes, there are troubles. You had no part in choosing them at all. But there are other matters you can choose, and did choose. God is saying, "In the course of this life, I want you to set the course by the choosing of life." Miserable is the one who does this. Happy, blessed, contented, the soul is made alive in the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. See, people with this kind of soul are marked by what they do not to do.
Now, somebody might read this verse and say, "Man, there's so much negativity here." Yes, you're right, because there's power in it. See, God is laying a foundational understanding of life, that what you say no to is just as important as what you're saying yes to. Must learn the power of saying no to those things which will bring misery to your life. Happy is the one who says no.
Here's an illustration. Imagine an athlete in training, and then you ask them, "Oh, what do you eat?" They'll tell you they'll eat all manner of healthy things, but that's only half of the story. See, you ask them, "Oh, what is your eating regimen?" They'll say, "Oh, I eat vegetables, and healthy proteins, and complex grains. Then right before bed, I have a tub of ice cream and a half a chocolate cake." You'll never hear them say that because what you say no to is just as important as what you say yes to.
Do not walk in the counsel of the wicked. Beware of the counsel, the advice of the ungodly. Oh, there is so much of our culture today that wants to speak that ungodly counsel into your life. There's so much noise today. In fact, let me even say further that there is a great battle being waged today in our modern time and culture. There's a great battle and they are desperately wanting to speak into the lives, especially of children because they know that they are vulnerable. If they can speak these ungodly words, the culture is trying to get a hold of children when they are young, knowing that it will set the course of their life. Many lives are being destroyed today because of the voices of the counsel of the ungodly. I say being destroyed because that's where the path leads.
B. Do not stand in the path of sinners
Miserable is the one who walks in this path. God is saying to you, "How blessed are you who do not walk in such counsel." But notice in the next phrase, "Nor do they stand in the path of sinners." This is the key, God's key to happiness. A deep-seated joyful happiness. Notice that there's a progression here. Those who walk in the counsel of the ungodly will soon find themselves standing in the path of sinners. You might say standing in the path with sinners. In other words, those who listen to the counsel of the ungodly will soon find themselves standing with them. In other words, be careful who you choose as your associates. Be careful who you hang with.
Paul wrote this in 1st Corinthians 15:33, "Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good character." We know this is true. You might call it peer pressure. The influence of the culture of the peers, of the associates, their ungodly counsel will transform. You are becoming like them. That's the power of peer pleasure. Children particularly are vulnerable to it because their character is not yet made solid. They're growing, but they're vulnerable, and so they're easily influenced.
That's why when we were raising our kids, as many of you know, we raised five kids, and peer pressure is a tremendous force in their lives. When opportunity arose, I try to say to them, "Look, when it comes to peer pressure, you be the pressure. You pressure them to that which is godly and right. Don't let them pressure you into that which will bring your path towards misery."
Jesus is wonderful, the greatest of examples in this. Jesus was called the friend of sinners. The Jewish leaders would accuse Him, "You sit in their house. You have dinner. You are friends with the worst of the worst of the worst publicans and sinners." Yes, it's true, Jesus understood, of course, that they are sinners who need to be reconciled to God, but you can be sure Jesus was far too strong to be influenced by them.
C. Do not sit in the seat of scoffers
No, he wanted them to come out of that. He was far too strong. Those who are walking in the council of the ungodly are being weakened. Weakened by that council and soon find themselves standing within the path of sinners. Then he says, "And do not sit in the seat of scoffers." See, oh, how happy, oh, how blessed the soul that is made alive in the one who does not sit in the seat of those who scoff. Again, notice the progression.
This is the person who's gone from walking in ungodly counsel to standing in the path with sinners, and now they're sitting in the seat of scoffers. They're scuffing themselves. They've been completely transformed now. They are scoffers. Oh, there are so many mockers and scoffers today. It's trending in our society. You might say it's going viral. This he's describing is the person who's joined them. They sit in the seat. This is not the way that leads to life. That's what the Psalm is saying.
This is not the way that leads to blessing, this happiness. Oh, how miserable is the one who pursues such things. It will destroy the thief. Jesus says, "Come. The enemy of your soul has come to steal, to kill, and destroy. That's what God is trying to save you from. Do not go down this path. It's the path of misery." Let me give you a very extreme example, if you don't mind. The God of sexuality is a terrible master that will destroy. It steals, it kills, it destroys, but God will bless your marriage in wonderful ways.
You see the path, the God of drugs and alcohol will destroy everything. It will take your life, it will take your money, it will take your position. It will destroy and destroy. If sex could truly satisfy the soul, well, then prostitutes would be the happiest people on earth, but they are most certainly not. If alcohol could truly satisfy the soul, then alcoholics would be the happiest people on earth, but they are not. God is saying, "Oh, how blessed, how happy, how content of soul are those who do not walk in these things."
II. Happy is the One Who Delights in God
Then the Psalm poetically shifts in verse 2, "Happy is the one who delights in God," is the great summary of the poetic shift. "Oh, how happy," He says, "is the one who delights in the law of the Lord." You might say the word of God. Notice his perspective on the word of God. He delights in it. He delights in it. It's not a drudgery. Oh, he delights. This is the one who sees that the one who gave that word is the one who wants to pour life into you, and he uses the word of God to do it. You delight in it. It's not a drudgery. You delight in it.
Many, many Christians have heard, many pastors have said many, many times, "Oh, how important it is to dwell in the word of God." Don't just dwell in it with drudgery. Okay, fine. The pastor has said, "It's important to be in the word of God." "Okay, fine. I guess I got to do-- it's the new Christian law. I guess I got to do this to please God. Okay, fine. I'll read it. Oh, how blessed is the man who walked in the Council of the Wicked. Okay, fine. I've done it." No, he says he delights in it. He delights in it. He delights in it.
In fact, he goes on to say, and in that law, he meditates. He thinks, he meditates day and night upon it. The word, meditate here in the Hebrew, suggests like a muttering or a repeating to oneself under your breath. In other words, you're considering it deeply. You are chewing on them, you might say. You're like, they're good to the taste. Sometimes you do that when you're eating. "Mm-hmm, that's good." You're repeating the words. You're slowing down to consider how good they are.
Psalm 19:8-10, "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoice in heart. They are sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Oh, how good they taste. Oh, how sweet they are." You know, though, the word of God is filled with the treasure of God. I was thinking about when we were in the book of Leviticus, I remember, in fact, I was at a pastor's gathering, and I was sitting with a pastor I'd never met, and we're getting to know each other. He said, "Oh, you're in Calvary Chapel." I said, "Yes."
He said, "So you do the Calvary Chapel thing?" Yes. That means go through the whole Bible. He said, "So all of it?" I go, "Yes, all of it." "You teach even through Leviticus?" "Like that." "Like Leviticus?" I go, "Oh, yes." Oh, there is so much in the book of Leviticus. I remember when maybe some of you remember when we were in the book of Leviticus and I would say, "I'm excited to announce that we're getting in the book of Leviticus today,” and everybody would start clapping.
That's how strange of a church this is. What? Yes, we're delighting in it because there's great treasure. We were just in the book of Job. Oh, many people, they don't want to study the book of Job. It's a very heavy book. Oh, what treasures we found. Anybody with us in the book of Job? Oh, what treasures we found. Because we considered it deeply. You meditate on it. I remembered some years ago teaching a class of new believers.
People could ask questions and someone asked, "Do Christians meditate like in the Eastern religions?" I said, "Well," and I referenced Psalm 1. "Well, there is, of course, the idea of meditating in the Christian life, but it's not like the Eastern religions. In Eastern religions, the idea of meditation is to empty one's mind, empty of all thoughts, empty one's mind of all thoughts, so that they can become one with the universe.
That's the goal of such meditation. In order to empty, empty, empty, empty, they would repeat the sound of the universe. You know what the sound of the universe is? I hear the sound of universe. They would repeat the sound to empty, empty, empty. I said, "The Christian idea of meditation is not to empty. It is the exact opposite. It is to fill, to fill, to fill. See, to meditate by filling your heart and your mind with the very thoughts and words, filling the pages of your Bible so that you can delight in the one who made the universe.
We don't want to become one with the universe. We delight in the one who made it. Amen. Let's get to the Lord praise. That's where glory is. Amen. See, when you're delighting in the word of God, you're delighting in Him who sent it, and now your soul is content, there's peace. God is doing a beautiful work on the soul. The result, He describes next, "You will be like a tree planted by living water. A tree planted by streams of water is strong. Its roots run deep. They've found a source of life that fills and nourishes every branch.
They reach out with their roots and they draw into them. They draw that water into their soul, and that's why they're happy, contented, joyful. The beautiful work of God is glorious because they've reached deeply and they've drawn into that. Notice that the tree is planted there. See, in other words, it's not going anywhere. See, I love that picture right there. Oh, I have found my source of life. I have found that which brings my soul joy. My soul is contented. There is a peace that passes understanding. God is doing a beautiful work on my soul, and I'm not going anywhere.
A. You will be like a tree planted by living water
There is nothing that would satisfy my soul like this water. Nothing. It's the steadfastness to drink from the water is what brings that life. It will be like a tree planted by living water. My wife loves palm trees. We've collected them. We've got six palm trees in the front of our yards, three in the back, and so we look like California and people. The palm trees that are doing the best are the ones planted by the water, by the pond. It's like, oh, they love the water and they're vibrant. Because notice what it says. They will be like a tree planted by streams of water and they will yield their fruit.
B. You will yield fruit in season
Yes, that's it. You will yield fruit in season. See, the tree that's full of life brings forth fruit. God made the tree to bring forth fruit. God even expects the tree to bear fruit, that which comes out. Because you've been drinking, because you've been receiving that life, God expects there for something to come from you. Notice, John 15:4-5, Jesus here says, "He who abides in me," there is that abiding, that steadfast drawing from that water, "He who abides in me and I in him, he is the one who bears much fruit."
Apart from me, you can do nothing. See, the result of abiding, the result of being a tree planted by living water is that fruit comes out of your life because it's the result of what came into your life. Notice, Luke 6:45, love quoting the Lord here on this because it's such a deep truth. Jesus said, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart will bring forth what is good."
The good man out of the good treasure, see, will bring forth from that good treasure. You draw in, you delight in the word of God, your roots run deep and you draw from that life, and your soul is filled with the joy of the Lord. A peace that passes understanding, the beautiful work of God is resonating in your soul. That is the good treasure of your heart. Well, what's going to come out is what is filling the heart, the glory.
Notice that it yields its fruit in season. In other words, it does take time. There's a maturing process that comes from abiding. See, stay steadfast, abiding. Stay there and you'll see step by step verse by verse, day by day your soul is going to be increasing because you're just continually drinking from that, you're drawing from that and day by day, see, it doesn't happen all at once.
I say that because a prison doesn't come to faith in Christ one day, and then they walk in the maturity of it the next. No, there is an abiding, so patiently waiting for that soul. God will bring that life, then you'll see it will yield its fruit, it ripens. Now, I love that He uses the word fruit to describe the godly result of your life.
Fruit is good. It's tasty. It's a blessing. It's sweet. Have you ever been around someone who is refreshing? It's just a delight to be with him. You are so encouraged just being around them. It is like you want to say, what is it with you? Well, that is describing a Psalm 1 kind of person right there. Their soul is filled with the joy of the Lord, peace that passes understanding, their God is doing a beautiful work in their soul.
What is it that comes out of them is refreshing. It's the fruit of refreshing. It's good. What is it with you? God wants you to be like that. That's why God wants you to be and me, all of us. That is that work. "I want your soul to be like this, that you're filled and overflowing. Your soul finds the joy of the Lord, the peace that passes understanding, that God is doing such a beautiful work of glory that that fruit which is the result of your life is sweet."
It's good. It blesses. It's ripe. It's good. It's tasty. It's like a cold watermelon on a hot day. Oh, it's good. God wants you to be like that. That's the result of God doing something glorious. It's like a peach ripening on the tree that's so juicy, it runs down your face. Oh, it's so good. That's the result of your soul, the joy of the Lord.
Notice Galatians chapter 5:22-23. He describes the fruit of the spirit. That is to say the result of the spirit of the living God abiding, that is the presence of God abiding that it brings forth a fruit. Notice, the fruit of the spirit is love. When you've been dwelling and delighting in the love of God, the love of God is filling your soul so that the result of it is that love is what comes out of you.
You drink from bitter water and your soul is bitter, and then bitterness is going to come out of you. When you're delighting in the Lord and your soul is filled with joy, God is doing a beautiful work, that's what comes out. The fruit of the spirit is love and joy is an extra, right when joy of the Lord, that's what's going to come out of you. God is saying that is the result of your soul.
We're not to be the Christian e-whores of the day. "Oh, how are you?" "I'm fine. My soul is sad." No, look, I'm not speaking of just walking around in some kind of false elation. I'm not speaking of that at all. What I'm speaking to is a deep, settled peace. Deeply settled Joy. I've had all manner of trouble in my life, but God has walked with me through every one of them and my soul is at peace. God is filling.
God is doing a work that is glorious and I want more of that, the joy of the Lord, even in the midst of many troubles because there's a deep settled peace, that's blessedness. Patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. These things are what comes forth because you have been abiding. Notice then he says, "And in whatever he does, he prospers."
C. In whatever he does, he prospers
Now, this is not prosperity gospel at all. That's not at all what he is saying here. What is he saying? Well, do you know the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea? You might say, yes, the Dead Sea's dead. Right, but why? Well, the Sea of Galilee is alive because it brings the headwaters of the Jordan into it, but then it pours forth from it, the Jordan River.
It brings into it life, fresh living water, but it brings forth out of it the Jordan River. It's alive. The Dead Sea, do you know that there is much fresh water flowing into the Dead Sea? There is a lot of fresh water flowing into the Dead Sea, but it's dead because it receives and never gives. Me, I need, I need. Me, I take, I take, I take. I must have. Me, I need, I need, I need.
Never blesses. Never gives. The one who receives living water finds his soul, contented gloriously at peace and then gives it. It refreshes. When that happens, God will entrust with you more and give you more and give you more and build and give you more and strengthen and give you more. Well, Matthew 6:33. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."
Seek first. Now, this is not a trite verse, this is not just a saying, this is a deep understanding of great truth. I know this is true. I'm telling you this is a deep word. Drink from it deeply. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and He will add, and He will add, and He will add, and He will add because your soul is full and overflowing. Then He finishes the song by describing the end result of the path that you choose.
Every path has an end, choose well. The wicked are like chaff which the wind drives away. They cannot stand on the day of judgment. Sinners will not stand in the assembly of the righteous. They're like chaff, which the wind blows away, but the Lord knows the way of the righteous. In other words, there comes a time of choosing. You'll never regret planting your life by streams of living water.
You will never regret delighting your soul in the living God because there's nothing that compares to it. You'll never regret the joy of the Lord. You'll never regret a soul that is made beautiful by the glory of God. You never regret that because it bears life. Choose well.
"Father, we thank you, for you set before us a wonderful understanding of life, blessed life." Church how many will say to the Lord today, "I want a soul like that. I want to be planted by streams of living water. I want to bear the fruit of it. I want my soul to be at peace. I wanted the joy of the Lord. I want a peace that passes understanding. I want God to do a beautiful work that is glorious. I want a life like that. I want a soul like that. I want to be planted by streams of water. I want that all my life."
Church, would you say that to the Lord by simply just raising your hand to the Lord? I want to just declare it to you. "God, I declare it to you now, I'm asking for this, that my soul would be filled and overflowing, that others around me would even be blessed because of what comes forth out of my life. I want that. Thank you for offering it to me. Thank you for showing it to me. I want that. I take hold of it. Do that in me Lord in Jesus' name," and everyone said can we get the Lord praise and glory and honor? Amen.