Everyone wants to be happy. It’s the human condition. However, things in life are not always conducive to happiness, and we find ourselves looking forward to things that we expect will make us happy.  We have some temporary spurts of happiness in life, but something always seems to come along to interrupt that experience. Other than some brief encounters, we often think of happiness as something that we’ll experience in the future when some circumstance changes. We will be happy when we graduate. We will be happy when we get married, buy that house, get that job, new car, big screen TV, etc. When we get those things, we always need something else to fulfill our happiness. What if I told you lasting happiness could be yours right now? Most people would say, “yes, I want that.”

Psalm one explains that it’s available to us. The first verse of this Psalm says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” The Greek and the Hebrew words for “Blessed” may also be translated as “Happy.” One dictionary defines the word this way, “pertaining to being happy, with the implication of enjoying favorable circumstances.”[1] In his commentary on the Psalms, Futato says, “The first word of the psalm is a key word that runs through the Psalter from beginning to end.” He adds, “The Psalms are about how to experience this profound happiness.”[2] Jesus seems to echo this when he preaches the beatitudes in Matthew chapter five. Eight times in as many verses, Jesus gives his listeners instructions on how to live a happy life. In this Psalm, we see that there are only three things we need to do. First, don’t take bad advice. Second, don’t commit any sins. Third, don’t have a bad attitude toward the affairs in your life.

The problem is that we’ve all taken lousy advice. We can’t overcome sinful habits in our lives, and when we do, we grow prideful, which is also a sin. We often wake up with bad attitudes in the morning. We can’t do it! But Jesus is “the man.” Contrary to some translations of Psalm 1:1, the verse talks about “the man” singular. There aren’t any righteous people apart from Jesus, no, not one! He has fulfilled the requirements of happiness on our behalf. He is our righteousness. He is our justification, and through faith in Him, we can experience the joys of the life described by the Psalmist. I like the way one web blogger explains this. He writes, “Psalm 1 is about a man. Not people in general, or even a person in general, but a man. A specific man. Although a few recent translations have attempted gender neutral language for this Psalm (either with a singular ‘one’ or a plural ‘they’), the original specifically uses the word for a man. And yet the contrast is with the ungodly, the sinners, and the scornful in the plural. It’s one man by himself on one side, versus all the ungodly on the other side.”[3]

[1] Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. 1996. In Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., 1:301. New York: United Bible Societies.

[2] Futato, Mark D. 2009. “The Book of Psalms.” In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 7: The Book of Psalms, The Book of Proverbs, 31. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[3] https://www.apostolictheology.org/2020/06/psalm-1-blessed-is-jesus-righteous-man.html