Lesson 1: Finding Lasting Happiness

Psalm 1:1-6

The book of Psalms is designed to focus our thoughts on God. The Hebrew word translated psalm (mizmôr, miz-more) means "praise." It signifies singing with the accompaniment of musical instruments (Psa. 150). Psalms has 150 chapters—more than any other book in the Bible. Psalms also has several authors. King David wrote about half of the psalms; King Solomon wrote Psalm 90; Asaph (Ay-saf), worship leader at the tabernacle, wrote about a dozen; and most of the others are anonymous.

The psalms are expressions of human feelings, ranging from great joy and happiness to deep sorrow and repentance. Some psalms tell us how to deal with sin and find spiritual renewal. Others teach us how to worship God. We will begin our "journey from despair to delight" in Psalm 1 by discovering some secrets for finding lasting happiness, the first of which is...

Avoid the path to unhappiness

1:1

The book of Psalms begins with the word blessed. The word translated blessed (esher, eh-sher) means "happy." But what is happiness? Many people think happiness is found in prosperity, possessions, pleasure, or prestige, but most never find happiness because they don't know what truth found in Ecclesiastes 3:11b?

 

The word translated world (ôlām, o-lawm) means "forever." This means our hearts can't be satisfied with possessions or achievements because those things are temporary. Therefore, nothing on this earth can give us lasting happiness because in every human heart there is a God-shaped vacuum only He can fill. Letting God fill that vacuum is the key to lasting happiness. To avoid the path to unhappiness, we must do three things:

1. Eliminate the counsel of the ungodly. If we want to be happy, we cannot walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Psa. 1:1a). The word ungodly doesn't mean atheists, bank robbers, or murderers, though it can include them. How does Psalm 10:4 describe the wicked?

 
 
 

A wicked person is anyone who leaves God out of their lives. Listening to the counsel of the ungodly begins a downward spiral because their counsel will be translated into actions. Therefore, to avoid the path to unhappiness, we must eliminate the counsel of the ungodly.

2. Vacate the lifestyle of sinners. The psalmist says we cannot stand in the way of sinners (1:1b). The word way means "manner of life" or "lifestyle." The word translated standeth (amad, ah-mod) means "to abide in." The word translated sinners literally means "criminals" or "offenders." So, participating in the lifestyle of those who break God's Law makes us spiritual criminals. If we listen to the counsel of the ungodly, breaking God's Law will become a part of our lifestyle. Therefore, we must be very careful about the friends we choose. Why according to 1 Corinthians 15:33?

 

This means bad communications, or associations, ruin our morals. That's the downward spiral of bad influence. This doesn't mean we are not to be friends with unbelievers. Jesus was called a friend of sinners (Mt 11:19), but He befriended them to lead them to holy lives. We should be friends with unbelievers but should not participate in their sinful lifestyles.

3. Decontaminate our witness. The Bible puts it like this: We will not sit in the seat of the scornful (Psa. 1:1c). The word seat refers to what we might call a professor's "chair" in a university or seminary. For example, what does Jesus say about the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:2?

 
 

Sitting in the seat of the scornful refers to teaching or encouraging others to sin as a way of mocking God. This means we shouldn't have anything in our lives that could encourage others to sin.

To find lasting happiness, avoid the path to unhappiness and second...

Adhere to God's Word

1:2-3

To adhere means to stick to or stay attached to. To adhere to God's Word, we must do two things:

1. Apply God's Word. The psalmist puts it like this: But his delight is in the law of the Lord (Psa. 1:2a). Some people read the Bible just to see how far they can go without crossing over the line to sin. They are looking for loopholes. But the person who delights in God's Word has an insatiable craving to know more about the Bible because he or she has a deep desire to please God. How does Jeremiah 15:16b describe what our reaction to God's Word should be?

 
 

Reading or hearing God's Word should be like eating your favorite food—a delight. Not only does a happy person delight in God's Word, but he or she also meditates day and night on it (1:2b). Meditating on God's Word is based on the same process as worrying. Worrying is taking a negative thought and thinking about it over and over. Meditating is taking a scripture and thinking about it over and over for the purpose of applying it to your life. When we apply God's Word by meditating on it, the next step is automatic.

2. Appropriate the power of God's Word. If we allow the power of God's Word to work in our lives, we will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season (1:3a-b). Just like a tree strengthened by a constant supply of water, we will be spiritually strengthened by the Word of God, and we will produce fruit. But what kind of fruit? When we appropriate the power of the Bible to our lives, the Holy Spirit produces what nine components of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23a?

1. LOVE 2. _______________ 3. PEACE
4. _______________ 5. _______________ 6. GOODNESS
7. _______________ 8. _______________ 9. _______________

The fruit of the Spirit is a word picture of Christ. Therefore, as we appropriate the power of God's Word in our lives, we become more like Him.

Also, our leaf does not wither (Psa. 1:3c). This means we don't burn-out spiritually. Serving God never becomes dull, dreary, or depressing. If we allow the power of God's Word to work in our lives, we will always be exciting, vivacious believers.

Finally, if we appropriate the power of God's Word in our lives, God promises that whatever we do shall prosper (1:3d). This doesn't mean we will get rich monetarily. How does Psalm 92:14 describe the righteous?

 
 

This means we will be exciting, fresh, and productive, even in old age. To find lasting happiness, we must avoid the path to unhappiness, adhere to God's Word, and third...

Appraise the end

1:4-6

This means we should keep the end in view. The end of the ungodly is not like that of the righteous because the ungodly... are like the chaff which the wind driveth away (1:4). Chaff refers to worthless husks of wheat or other grain that just blow away in the wind. A life without God has no eternal value; it is as worthless as chaff blown away in the wind.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment (1:5a). This means they cannot withstand the judgment of God. Revelation 21:8 lists the kinds of people who will have their place in the lake of fire. What two kinds of people head the list?

 

The fearful are those who are afraid to take their stand for Jesus Christ. The unbelieving refers to those who never place their faith in Christ. These two groups head God's list of horrible sinners.

In the end, sinners will not be allowed in the congregation of the righteous (Psa. 1:5b). On earth today sinners live among the righteous. However, at judgment they will discover they have no place with God's people in heaven. When Jesus returns at the end of time, His angels will gather all nations before Him. What will He then do, according to Matthew 25:32b?

 
 

The entire first psalm is summed up like this: For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish (1:6). Lasting happiness is found in believing God's promise: the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous. How does Psalm 34:15 amplify this statement?

 
 

This means we will never have to go through a problem alone.

To find lasting happiness, you must avoid the path to unhappiness, adhere to God's Word, and appraise the end.