The Secret of Happiness
Mr. Jerry Clark of McMinnville, Tenn., continues to provide us with practical instruction in this his ninth of fifteen studies on Psalms 120-134.
A song of the goings-up:
1. O the blessings of everyone fearing the LORD,
of the one walking in His ways.
2. The labor of your hands you shall surely eat.
O, your blessings! And the good which shall come to you.
3. Your wife shall be as a fruitful vine
Inside your house,
Yours sons shall be as olive plants
around your table.
4. Behold, THIS is the way a man fearing the LORD
shall be blessed:
5. The LORD shall bless you out of Zion:
that you may see the good of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
6. And that you may see your grandsons.
Peace be upon Israel!
The one common goal which unites all people is the search for happiness. The Bible assures us that true happiness is entirely dependent upon our relationship to God and the degree to which we are enjoying His fellowship and the blessings which derive from that fellowship. Psalm 128 deals with this very subject by describing the blessings of God and how they may be obtained.
The Nature Of God’s Blessings
Ordinarily, when we think of the blessings of God, we tend to list them individually (“Count your many blessings, name them one by one…”).
This psalm deals with the two basic types of blessings enjoyed by God’s people, each of which is signified by a different word.
In Part I (vv. 1-3), we have the word ‘esher, a word which refers first to the sense of well-being (happiness) and then to well-being itself (health, prosperity).
In Part II (vv. 4-6), we have the word barak, a word which also has a double significance. It may refer either to words which we speak blessing or praising someone or to acts which are done bringing good to others (cf. Eph. 1:3 where the Greek equivalent eulogetos is used in both senses).
This contrast between ‘esher and barak serves to highlight the difference between two types of blessings — subjective and objective, happiness from God and help from God — and reveals the essential relationship which exists between attitudes and actions.
The one who fears God is, first of all, happy because he has a right relationship with his Maker. He has “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) and enjoys a subjective happiness because of it. In addition, this right relationship with God corrects and transforms the man’s relationships with himself, his work (v. 2) and his family (v. 3) so that ALL these things become, in turn, a further source of blessing (subjective happiness) to him as well.
The man who is “happy” — having the right attitude and response to life — reacts positively to his work and, consequently, his work —because he truly works at it, giving it his best — is fruitful and blesses him.
It is an obvious truism that a field which is neglected will produce no fruit — and hence no blessing — for its owner, but a field on which labor is earnestly bestowed will produce and repay the laborer to a greater degree than the labor exerted in the first place.
In the same way, a family that is “neglected,” or where situations and problems are reacted to in a negative manner, will produce no blessings, but a family where we ourselves respond to every word or action in a consistently Christ-like manner will in turn repay us thirty, sixty or one hundredfold in blessings, multiplying our original happiness.
Matthew 5:3-12 illustrates this truth by demonstrating that true happiness is found not in pleasant outward circumstances but in character, a right attitude toward God, self, circumstances and others which transforms every area of our everyday lives.
While happiness is not dependent upon circumstances, objective blessings (those which come from “without”) do form a very real aspect of the blessings of God. The second section of the psalm reveals that a person who fears God makes it possible for God to bless his life objectively: that is, through various actions which give him further opportunity for the enjoyment of the blessings he already possesses. The wrong attitude toward God ties His hands so that He is not able to act toward us in blessing but must rather act by chastening. This chastening, of course, is no less a sign of His love than outward blessings (Heb. 12:5, 6) and ultimately works toward our good by bringing us back to Him.
Nevertheless, the maintenance of fellowship with God does make it possible for Him to bless us with “good things” (v. 5: not always temporal) and the opportunity to enjoy these good things. For example, the peace and opportunity which much of the Western world has enjoyed to preach the gospel for many years now is itself an objective blessing from God (cf. v. 6).
The Secret Of God’s Blessings
Recognizing that we need the blessings of God in our lives, the obvious question is, how do we obtain such blessings? The answer is given:
The man who fears the LORD,
walking in His ways, is blessed (‘esher): v. 1.
The man who fears the LORD is blessed (barak): v.4.
Here the word for fear is yare’, not the slavish fear which results in fleeing from God (see Gen. 3:10) but the reverent attitude which recognizes God as the source of all life (so that we owe our initial existence to Him), as the source of all power (so that we owe our continual sustenance to Him), and the source of all blessing (so that we owe our happiness to Him) and, therefore, acts accordingly. This attitude of reverent awe results, if genuine, in proper actions, walking as God would have us to walk.
Christ also states: “If ye love me (attitude), keep my commandments (actions)” (John 14:15). Love and fear are not contradictory, but complementary. Fear is recognition of God’s true being and nature which must be responded to by bowing to God as supreme (in all things: this means accepting His will, including His provision for our salvation in Jesus Christ). This submission will then result in love FOR God and His paths, so that we too walk “in His ways.”
This proper attitude of “fear” corrects and purifies our every attitude and action so that WE are happy. We build families who react similarly to God and a nation composed of such families constitutes a nation which God can bless (cf. Psa. 33:12a) .
As believers, our happiness is not dependent upon what we have or what we can do, but upon our relationship to God and our continuing attitude (fellowship) toward Him.
Does our attitude produce happiness in our lives? Does it bring out the best in others? Does it make it possible for God to bless us daily by the manifestation of the blessings we have in Christ? If so, then we are truly “happy and blessed” of God!