How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.Psalm 1:1
‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness‘ is a well known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. But what is exactly is happiness? Type that question into google and you will get a lot of interesting answers…
Here are but a few…
The Word blessed, as we find at the start of Psalm 1, is often translated ‘happy.’ But it doesn’t quite mean the same thing. To bless is to confer or invoke divine favour.
There is a sense that God blesses everyone, everywhere. Theologians talk about the common grace of God given to makind and His lovingkindness toward all that He has made:
..for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.Matthew 5:45
The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.Psalm 145:9
But verses like Psalm 1: 1 throw up interesting questions. They seem to suggest that God specifically loves to bless particular people.
Is this purely an Old Testament idea based on law? Is blessing conditional, i.e. based on my behaviour? If so, what do I have to do to be blessed?
In the New Testament, we find Jesus using the same type of language in the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes, often nicknamed the ‘BE-ATTITUDES,’ might shed a bit more light on the matter. Perhaps the emphasis isn’t so much on what I do, but about my state of being – what’s going on inside my heart.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth…and so on.Matthew 5:3-12
Jesus shows us that God loves to bless, not our religious performance or good works, but certain inner heart attitudes.
Psalm 1 is no different really. It makes the basic distinction between those who delight in God’s law (God’s word and ways) and those who don’t. It’s not about performance, it’s a heart thing.
It’s wonderful to realise that when we receive Christ, by grace, through faith, it’s like having a heart transplant. We become a new creation! All our passions and desires completely change. These words in Ezekiel were a prophetic declaration of what the death and resurrection of Jesus would bring about for those who believe:
And I shall give them one heart and put a new spirit within them. And I shall take out their heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.Ezekiel 11:19-20