Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Keep me and guard me as the pupil of Your eye, hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”
Calm Me, My God
“Calm me, my God, and keep me calm,
While these hot breezes blow;
Be like the night-dew’s cooling balm
Upon earth’s fevered brow!
Calm me, my God, and keep me calm,
Soft resting on Thy breast;
Soothe me with holy hymn and psalm,
And bid my spirit rest.
Calm me, my God, and keep me calm
Let Thine outstretched wing
Be like the shade of Elim’s palm
Beside her desert-spring.
Yes, keep me calm, though loud and rude
The sounds my ear that greet,
Calm in the closets solitude,
Calm in the bustling street;
Calm as the ray of sun or star
Which storms assail in vain,
Moving unruffled through earth’s war,
The eternal calm to gain.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) are the men and women.”
“Oh, The Blessedness!”
Psalm 1 Part 2
“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
C. S. Lewis
What does it mean to me to be happily blessed by my heavenly Father?
How would I define the word “blessed” or “happy” as found in Psalm 1:1?
“The heart is rich when it is content, and it is always content when its desires are fixed on God. Nothing can bring greater happiness than doing God’s will for the love of God.”
Nigel Febres Cordero-Munzo
“When the dream in our heart is one that God has planted there, a strange happiness flows into us. At that moment all of the spiritual resources of the universe are released to help us. Our praying is then at one with the will of God and becomes a channel for the Creator’s always joyous, triumphant purposes for us and our world.”
There is nothing more exciting in my personal Bible study than to recognize how passages of Scripture written in the Old Testament share an identical theme as Jesus’ words in the New Testament. This is why Psalm 1 holds so much intrigue for me.
Beginning with the very first word found in Psalm 1: 1, it is as if the reader is abruptly halted by a reference from the New Testament which mirrors David’s words that begin Psalm 1. As Pastor Susan Johnson points out, “Psalm1 is a gentle and confident wisdom psalm, with its own shape, imagery, and meaning…for Psalm 1 opens with a benevolent word to the wise… a beatitude (with) the description of what it means to be happy or blessed. It is at once both promise and counsel. ‘Happy are those who’ is a formulaic meditation that promises happiness to anyone who heeds its advice.”
If we turn to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 5, referred to as “The Sermon On The Mount,” we’ll find the repetitive phrase: “’Blessed (happy, to be envied, and prosperous – with life-joy and satisfaction is God’s favor and salvation, regardless of outward conditions,’” spoken by our Lord 9 times in a row. If these particular words were important enough for David to begin the Psalms with them and for Jesus to call our attention to them over and over again, I believe it would do us well to spend a few moments uncovering the reason the word “blessed” calls out for our attention.
Pastor and evangelist John Wesley made this declaration: “There is no happiness out of God.” I happen to believe that the Psalmist David, better than most people, understood how messy and destructive life can get when anyone tries to live in their own power. No wealth, no women, and no winning could provide David with a peaceful and content heart. As W. T. Purkiser so vividly describes, “Searching for true happiness in the context of a godless life is like looking for a needle in a haystack that doesn’t have any.” In other words, apart from God, all my human efforts are futile. But as Christian theologian Blaise Pascal reminds us, “Happiness is neither within us only, or without us; it is the union of ourselves with God.” As Jesus Himself told His followers on the night before His death, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15: 5, Amplified Bible). The dictionary tells us that the word “nothing” means “no thing.” It indicates insignificance and obscurity. It is as if there was no existence at all. I think it is fair to say that when Jesus uses the word “nothing,” He is telling us that no lasting happiness and no lasting blessedness will come our way if we cut the connection with Him.
It is this truth which Pastor Leah Horton expands on in her commentary on Psalm 1. She observes that the “beatitude that has been intentionally placed at the beginning of the book of Psalms makes an audacious claim. There are two ways, it affirms, in which humans can choose to shape their lives. One of those ways leads to life and flourishing, the other to insignificance and death.” It appears to be a life that is “something” or a life that is “nothing.”
I’d like to add that if we are willing to dig deeper into the word “blessed” we will find that this particular Hebrew word “esher” or the partner word “ashar” assist us in finding that the meaning to “blessed,” used in the widest sense, means “to be level, to be right, to go forward with honesty. If we combine these definitions together we could say, “Oh, how blessed, how straight and level the honest behavior of the person who moves forward in their life in the pathway of God’s guiding hand.”
Professor Ismael Garcia provides a depth of enlightenment which I appreciate in his commentary on Psalm 1:
“This brief but theologically rich psalm proclaims the beatitude: blessed or happy are those who find delight in meditating day and night on the law of the Lord. This blessing unveils the two purposes of the psalm…First, through poems, songs, prayers, stories, and, yes, laws the Psalter instructs us about God’s nature and purpose, the way God relates to us, and the way we ought to relate to God…Secondly, Psalm 1 presents its own instruction. It proceeds by establishing a radical contrast between the righteous and the wicked…The issue is not whether one obeys or disobeys moral laws, but whether or not one makes God and God’s reign the center of one’s life. The righteous are those open to, dependent on, and trusting of the presence of God and the realization of God’s reign. The wicked follow a different way. They are a law to themselves, living by their own wit, cunning, and self-determination. Being their own judge, they find themselves to be justified in doing whatever they do. In affirming their (independence) they cannot but deny the sovereignty of God.”
Simply put, contained within the word “blessed” is the joyous thought that when I accept God as the ruler of my life, I will find eternal happiness that starts on this earth and will never come to an end for all eternity - no matter how many trials I face on my journey home. As the beatitude of Psalm 1 begins, “Blessed!” In the comforting words penned by Horatio Bonar in 1861: “O love of God, our shield and stay through all the perils of our way! Eternal love, in Thee we rest, forever safe, forever blest.” Or as David wrote: “Oh, the blessedness!”
“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and gave us everlasting consolation and encouragement and well-founded hope through His grace, comfort and encourage your hearts and strengthen them steadfastly and keep them unswerving in every good work and word.”
II Thessalonians 1:16,17
“The love of the Lord Jesus draw you to Himself, the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in His service, the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.”
(Based on an original prayer by William Temple)
“Sow holiness and reap happiness.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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