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Happy is the man who.....

Blessed is the man who (1a) walks not in the (1b) counsel of the (1c) wicked, nor (2a) stands in the (2b) way of (2c) sinners, nor (3a) sits in the (3b) seat of (3c) scoffers; but his delight is in the teaching of the LORD, and on his teaching he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Psalm 1: 1-4
 
Happiness in this world is elusive.... When folk aim for happiness they seemingly achieve unhappiness – and that quite quickly.

Today – in Jersey – could a short poem, written at least 3,000 years ago, help us to be truly happy? Take a look at Psalm 1 above from the Christian Bible. This Psalm was first of all preserved by the Jews in their Holy Scriptures – the Hebrew Bible.

Like many gems of literature, the Psalm starts with some negatives and follows that with positive instruction – about blessedness, about happiness.

The negatives are progressive. To be happy is not doing three things: not (1a) walking in a certain way; not (2a) standing in a certain path; not (3a) sitting in a certain place. In life I start to (1a) walk in a particular way. Then I find myself (2a) standing with a certain type of people. My life then becomes (3a) seated in a certain place. That’s my life.

 
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‘Life is not a solo but a chorus. We live in relationships from cradle to grave.’ (Anon.)
Starting out in life, why do I walk in one particular way and not in another? It’s because of (1b) “counsel”, isn’t it? Advice. I doubt that there was ever a time in the lives of human beings when there have been so many voices to listen to – all giving (1b) advice. In the early 20th century radio and film were in their infancy. TV broadcasts post-date WW2. The World Wide Web is a creature of this century. Facebook is even more recent. All give counsel. Whose (1b) advice is best – for my happiness?

Having taken advice (and having rejected other counsel) I find myself on a certain (2b) way. This pathway, this road is the one on which I’ve chosen to travel. On this (2b) road are the others who see things as I now have chosen to see them. My way – my conduct, my lifestyle – will continue like this.

Now, today, therefore, I’m resident in a certain (3b) seat. Around me in this cinema of life – in this my only reality - are others enjoying the same things as I do. Others seats, other possibilities used to be available but they don’t interest me anymore. It’s now too much effort to change my (3b) seat.

Whoa. Deep down, I’m actually unhappy. Why?

The Psalmist speaks. It all started when I decided to follow the advice of the (1c) wicked. When I had “enemies” – even at school – someone advised me to get one over on them. No one counselled me to do what Jesus taught – to love my enemies, to do good to those who hate me, to pray for those who harm me. I began to put “me” first.

Embarking on my life in a certain way was easy. I was even popular with all my friends – my (1b) counsellors. Then I found that, on my (2b) roadway, folk on that particular roadway were all (2c) “sinners”. I was standing with them in seeking the very best for myself.

After all that, the matter is now settled. I’m (3a) seated in the (3b) seat of (3c) scoffers. Scoffers? Yes, mockers. But what are we all laughing at? And why is our laughter so unhappy?

 
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‘This life is all the heaven the non-Christian has; and all the hell the Christian ever sees.’ (Anon.)
Having dealt with the negative - how not to be happy - the Psalmist proceeds with the positive. Happy is the man, he writes, whose “delight is in the teaching of the LORD, and on his teaching he meditates day and night.”

In AD 30, Jesus was given the title “LORD”. On his entry into Jerusalem in the final week before his execution, “the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!”

What exactly is the teaching of the LORD Jesus Christ? His teaching isn’t just what he said – it’s his whole life and death and resurrection which is so informative – so full of delight. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

He’s constantly being scoffed at – by the progressively unhappy.

 
Sinner Syvret

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