1. Wherein lies the key to true happiness?
a. We live in a time where boredom, depression and other forms of
unhappiness are rampant
b. Is there some basic principle which determines success in finding
2. The Book of Psalms with its very first psalm shares with us a key
principle that can ensure true happiness...
a. Notice the very first word of the first psalm - "Blessed..."
1) The word in Hebrew denotes the idea of "happiness"
2) The actual force of the Hebrew could be translated "O how
very happy is the man..."
b. Therefore this psalm describes "The Truly Happy Man"
3. In this lesson, we shall...
a. Take a close look at the first psalm
b. Seek to glean the principles necessary for one to truly be happy
[The psalm itself can be divided into three sections. The first section
I. THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS MAN
A. WE ARE TOLD OF HIS CHARACTER (1-2)
1. Described first from a NEGATIVE point of view - Ps 1:1
a. There is value in negative commands or statements
1) For so much that destroys happiness is the fruit of
2) We ought to appreciate the value of negative commands
a) They keep us from going astray
b) They protect from harm and misery
-- Like restraining walls along a cliff, they keep us
from getting hurt
b. Therefore it is said that the truly happy man:
1) "Walks not in the counsel of the ungodly"
a) He does not take their counsel as to how to live
b) He does not follow the advice of those who are sinful
2) "Nor stands in the path of sinners"
a) He does not linger where sinners are known to go
b) For the temptation to go with them would be great
3) "Nor sits in the seat of the scornful"
a) He does not join himself with those who ridicule and
mock those trying to do right
b) Which sinners often do to fortify their conduct and
defend their actions
c. Notice the example of Hebrew poetry in this verse
1) Hebrew poetry stressed "thought rhyme" rather than "word
a) Where the thoughts are somehow related rather than
just the words
b) Such thought rhyme was often expressed in various
forms of "parallelism" (e.g., synonymous, 1:2;
2) Here we find an example of "progressive parallelism"
(walk, stand, sit)
d. This verse may be taken to describe the journey one takes
1) First, one going along with a crowd
2) Then, taking a stand with the crowd
3) Finally, reaching a point where sinning is not enough,
mockery is added
2. His character from a POSITIVE perspective - Ps 1:2
a. "His delight is in the law of the Lord"
1) The source of his joy and happiness is the Word of God!
2) It is truly his "delight" - cf. Ps 119:16,24,35,47,70,
77,92,174; Jer 15:16-17
3) He preferred it over the counsel of the ungodly!
b. Therefore, "in His law he meditates day and night"
1) The word meditate means to "moan, hum, utter, speak,
a) The picture is one of a man reading and re-reading
half aloud to himself
b) Another word might be "ponder"
2) This he does with God's word "day and night"
a) Not implying a monk-like existence
b) But a concerted interest which goes beyond a casual
3) What it means is that this is something...
a) He does habitually
b) He takes time to do - setting apart portions of each
c) He does both day and night
B. WE ARE TOLD OF HIS PROSPERITY (3)
1. "He shall be like a tree"
a. This figure of speech is often used in Scripture to
describe the righteous - e.g., Ps 92:12-15; Jer 17:5-8
b. It had special significance to those living in arid
climates (like Palestine)
2. "Planted by rivers of water"
a. A picture describing a person whose life is rooted in God's
b. From which one receives constant nourishment
3. "That brings forth fruit in its season"
a. Depicting a life which yields something worthwhile
b. Providing blessings to himself and others
4. "Whose leaf also shall not wither"
a. A tree with roots near a river is not likely to be affected
in times of drought
b. So adverse conditions do not affect the fruitfulness of one
whose strength comes from God's word!
5. "Whatever he does shall prosper"
a. The figure of the tree is now left behind
b. This is a general rule, exceptions may occur for reasons
which only God knows
c. But a life of piety will generally be blessed by prosperity
1) For piety will heed God's directions for success in life
2) And piety will heed God's warnings concerning things
that waste life
[Such is the character and prosperity of the righteous man; he is truly
happy and a blessing to others because he abides in the Word of God. He also becomes a monument to God's faithfulness and the value of living by His word.
What of those who do not delight in the Word of God, who do not receive the nourishment found in it? In the next two verses we are shown...]
II. THE CONDITION OF THE UNRIGHTEOUS
A. THEY ARE NOTHING LIKE THE RIGHTEOUS (4)
1. The phrase "The ungodly are not so" is more emphatic in the
a. Literally, "Not so, are the ungodly!"
b. Emphasizing that the wicked are not like the righteous
2. The contrast as illustrated by the Psalmist
a. He does not even describe them as withering trees
1) But rather as "chaff which the wind drives away"
2) Alluding to chaff blown away from wheat as it is tossed
into the air
b. The illustration describes a bleak existence
1) Their life is one of futility (ending in eternal
separation from God)
2) Their life is no substantial value, either to be blown
away and not found, or to be burned (cf. Mt 3:12)
B. THEIR SORRY CONDITION PORTENDS NO GOOD END
1. "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment"
a. I understand this may be a Hebraism (Hebrew idiom)
1) Meaning that the wicked "shall not be able to maintain
2) i.e., obliged to sit or fall down in shame when
convicted of their guilt
b. The Final Judgment appears to be under consideration
2. "Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous"
a. i.e., in all places where the righteous are assembled, they
will have no place:
1) E.g., where they assemble to worship God
2) E.g., where they meet as His friends
3) E.g., where they together participate in His favor
b. But especially, in the last day, when the righteous...
1) ...shall be gathered together to receive their reward
2) ...shall be assembled together in heaven
...the sinner has no place!
[The psalm concerning "The Truly Happy Man" ends with...]
III. A FINAL CONTRAST BETWEEN THE TWO "WAYS"
A. THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS (6a)
1. The Lord "knows" the way of the righteous
2. The word "knows" suggests interest in, and care for, the
-- One could say: "God himself goes with such a person throughout
his or her life"
B. THE WAY OF THE UNGODLY (6b)
1. The way of the ungodly person "shall perish"
2. I.e., shall tend toward ruin
-- His path becomes less defined until it loses itself (like a
trail that leads into a swamp)
1. Is not the end described for the ungodly a true description of those
who go through life bored, depressed, or otherwise unhappy?
a. Their lives are listless
b. With no sense of purpose or direction, gradually unraveling
2. Why is this so? Because they...
a. Heed the counsel of the ungodly!
b. Do not meditate upon the Word of the Lord!
3. If we desire to be "The Truly Happy Man"...
a. Standing strong like well-nourished tree, bearing fruit at all
b. With the Lord always at our side
-- Then the key is to delight and meditate in the Word of the Lord,
and not heed the counsel of sinners!
4. In whose counsel do you delight? That found in God's word, or that
provided by the ungodly in this world? If you seek true happiness,
let the Lord be your counselor, and His word your guide!