<< Desiring God’s Word (Intro to Psalm 119)
It is a universal truth that all people, without exception, want to be happy. But the problem is, we define happiness wrongly or in a very limited way. We pursue our happiness in the things that bring only temporal pleasure, but in the end do not really satisfy our soul.
We do that because we want to do things our way. We want to be free from Someone who dictates us and wants to control our life. We don’t want that. We want to be “captain of our soul.” But that path does not guarantee true and lasting happiness; it guarantees only deep misery.
The first verse of Psalm 119, however, delineates the only path that brings true and lasting happiness – the path of living according to God’s Word:
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!
To be “blessed” is to be in a state of true happiness. This is real bliss, pleasure, and delight. Those who are in this position are most enviable. There is nothing in life more important than to be in this state of blessedness. Every person in his right mind wants this one.
But not all get this because of their negative attitude toward God’s law. Sin, which John the apostle describes as “lawlessness” (1 John 3:4), never brings true happiness. Never. Only those whose life is conformed to the Word of God live a life of true happiness.
The psalmist tells us that there is a necessary connection between true happiness and our attitude toward God’s law. The first psalm also starts with the same “blessed” note:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2).
Of course, for most people “the law” and “happiness” are mutually exclusive. They think of laws as limiting their freedom to do the things they want. Children think of their parents’ list of dos and don’ts as “joy-killers.” That is because we think of happiness as doing whatever we want to do, whatever we think will bring us pleasure.
But that is not how the psalmist defines happiness. Happiness is doing the things that God wants us to do. It is desiring what God desires for us to do.
God’s commands are not “joy-killers.” They are joy-producing. In fact, only by living according to God’s law do we find true and lasting joy. Nothing else in life matters than living a life that is blameless before God. So we must live with all our might not primarily to get what we want, but to pursue what God wants for us.
He gave us his law not to burden us but to make us happy. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Of course we cannot on our own obey his law, and this seems to be so much of a burden for us. As much as we want to be blameless, we can’t, we just can’t. We are sinners. That is why God sent Jesus his Son to live a blameless and righteous life for us, and to die in our place for our sins. For what purpose? To uphold God’s law and justice and to bring us back again to the state of bliss which the first man and woman enjoyed in the Garden.
So we make every effort to conform our life to God’s law not to purchase true happiness, but because it was already purchased for us by Jesus Christ. That’s the blessedness of the Christian life.
God presents us with two paths for this journey called life. One path brings everlasting happiness. The other only misery disguised as fleeting pleasures. May the Holy Spirit grant us enough wisdom to choose the right path and stay in it all the days of our life.