Friday, May 2, 2008

Thoughts on Psalm 1: Blessedness is qualified happiness



"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." (Psalm 1:1)

While it is true that happiness can be inserted in the place of the word blessed in the text, we must be careful to qualify the word happiness. Many who enjoy the world's sinful pleasures do so because it does bring happiness to them, however, it doesn't go to say that they are blessed. There is then a great gulf fixed between the broad and generic use of the word happy and the specific use of the word bless, or blessed. Jay Adams in his book on counseling observes that happiness relates to happening. Obviously, we may readily attest to that as a true statement. When things are happening, we are happy, and when things aren't happening, then in a way, we aren't happy.

But what about "blessings?" First, what do we mean by "blessing?" Second, where do they stem from? A blessing is a goodness or kindness bestowed upon us by God. God is so good to us that he blesses us with what are called temporal blessings, or physical blessings. These are blessings (bestowed kindness) that stem from His gracious self, that are physical in nature. James 1:17 puts it this way: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Among the temporal blessings we have food, clothing, children, etc. The Lord is so good to all of mankind that He blesses them with temporal blessings regardless of their attitude towards Him. God is indeed gracious (see Matt. 5:45). Ought not the goodness of God lead us to repentance? Yes it should! Then there are spiritual blessings. Salvation, of course, being the primary gift to lost sinners. Accompanying Salvation, we have regeneration, reconciliation, adoption, sanctification, the forgiveness of sins, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His power, the heavenly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ which is His intercession and advocacy, and His abiding presence in our hearts by faith, and on and on. If you are a genuine born again believer, you are indeed a blessed person.

When we think of blessings and happiness, let us not forget it is the source that makes the difference. Happiness is derived from happenings (circumstantial) and blessings come from our gracious God. In the words of Thomas Ken, whose image is on the top left, (1674): "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." Indeed, may God be praised!

2 comments:

Nicholas Z. Cardot said...

Great post. The world really does base their level of happiness on the circumstances and the events taking place in and around their lives. If things are going well, they are happy. If not...well the opposite. As Christians we have physical and spiritual blessing just like you said that can keep us filled with joy and a way that the world will never know. Thanks for posting this!

Bill Hardecker said...

Thanks for commenting Nick.