Everyone wants to be happy. I’m not sure the Bible guarantees that happiness is to be the common experience of the Lord’s people, as certain measures of sadness are inevitable in a sad and sinful world.
There are some other words that more appropriately describe the gift or promised blessings of God for his people who trust him. The first that comes to mind is “contented” – a peaceful state of rest and confidence in the Father through all things.
So, we need to find the happy condition of a sufficient, trusting state of contentment by steady faith in the Lord’s care of us. But how do we get there? What does this happy person look like?
Here are four descriptions …
Negatively Stated – There is a certain way the happy person does not behave. Look at verse one and especially follow the verbs …
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
Notice how the verbs show a growing trend of comfort with the pathways of those who don’t follow God – from walking, to standing, to sitting. We are much affected by whom we choose to spend our time. Even as we need friendship relationships with people who don’t know the Lord, toward the goal of bringing them to Christ, our bulk of energy and commitment needs to be with God’s people.
Positively Stated – So the flip side is to describe what a contended person does do to get to this blessed state…
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
Rather than spending his down time hanging out with the scoffing element and being negatively impacted by useless values and attitudes, the happy person is steadily and frequently delighting and meditating on God’s Word. This does not mean that all free time is given over to it, but it means that there is a pattern and plan to learn and grow. As well, there is a steady commitment to look for God and truth in all the situations of life. This takes some commitment, work, and time; it does not come as an automatic add-on with the membership card and welcome envelope.
Illustratively Stated – The writer gives us one of the great pictures in all of Scripture to help us understand how a peaceful person maintains his or her faith …
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
I think of this Psalm every time I ride Maryland Route 66 (Mapleville Road) as it goes north from the interchange at I70 and on up to Smithsburg. The route is through the valley of Beaver Creek. All along that stream are gigantic trees, many of them sycamores. They obviously thrive because it is readily apparent that their roots are in the water and a steady supply of moisture. And not far away, there are trees in the middle of fields and on hillsides. These trees are generally not so large or healthy, as their nourishment has to come from the storms which come and go with irregular patterns. The fruitful tree by the stream is the picture of success.
Stated as a Contrast – Once more, the writer gives an opposite picture, again from the arena of agriculture …
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand 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 destruction.
Growing up next to my grandfather’s gristmill, it was always obvious which days the farmers brought in their grain crops to be sold and stored in his large bins. There was a shaking process of metal grates moving in opposite directions with the kernels falling through hole after hole, while the surrounding worthless chaff materials were blow out of the mill by fans – where the wind would catch this cloud of dust and blow it away from the building. It looked as if the mill was caught in a fire cloud of dust.
So the wicked are not being fruitful, they have no roots into anything that will last for eternity, and sadly their end is destruction. If you are following Christ, don’t be stupid and be like that!
Final Thought – It is again evident why we chose this passage as illustrative of our second theme – the centrality of knowing God’s Word. So are you prospering with contentment? What kind of tree are you? Fruitful? Are your roots into a stream of Scripture other than dependence upon the Sunday morning teaching and classes? Though we have many people bearing fruit on large trees by the streams of a faithful life, too many at TSF don’t choose to appropriate the vast array of resources we present. Neither do they take initiative on other days of the week to have their roots in the right place.
It is the leadership’s vision to see a church family that is truly hungry for and dependent upon the Scriptures, for it is the only way to succeed … to find happy contentment.