Holiness and Happiness
Psa. 128:1 Happy is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways.
Psa. 128:2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
Psa. 128:3 ¶ Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Psa. 128:4 Thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the LORD.
Psa. 128:5 ¶ The LORD bless you from Zion.
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
Psa. 128:6 May you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!
This is a Psalm which declares the results of a life lived in humble reverence before God. Henry tells us, “Only those who are truly holy, are truly happy.” God’s desire is to set women and men free from the things of the world which entangle them in such a way that it makes it nearly impossible to be truly happy. Being set free from the bondage of this world means that we can enjoy the freedoms and happiness brought to us from the Lord.
It’s a bit dangerous to tread in this direction as I recognize that there are many dear Christian friends these days who are suffering. I know those who are battling cancer and others who are struggling with the loss of their child and somehow this Psalm may seem inadequate in all circumstances. At the same time I think of the friend with whom I spoke last evening who has experienced the transformational power of the Holy Spirit in her life and she is living a new life.
For those who are entrapped by the things of this world, the snare becomes so tight that often one becomes unaware of the place into which they have been drawn. Alcoholism and drug abuse can eat away at a life and yet the person can be deceived into believing that they are okay and can manage all the things happening around them. They fail to see the loss of work and the destruction of personal relationships. This is what sin does — it drags one down and yet fools one into believing that this is the good life!
The fear of the LORD brings about something completely different. A clear mind focused on God also brings with it a good work ethic. One can get up in the morning and produce a day of labor, one which can bring satisfaction to the heart and soul. It feels good to earn that paycheck and not waste it!
Your spouse will flourish because they will be able to trust you. You will actually work at your marriage, choosing to love your spouse! You won’t spend money behind your spouse’s back on things that only feel the greedy place in your own soul. Your spouse will love and trust you and simply do things because they love you — not expecting anything in return.
Having a clear mind means that you see and respond to the needs of your children. They are not ignored in favor of your nasty habits. Your desire is for them to do well and flourish — and they do because their parents are together engaged in their lives. It is in this way that those who have chosen to be married will be blessed.
Let’s return a moment to Henry’s comment, “Only those who are truly holy, are truly happy.” God’s desire is not for us to live sad and boring lives. God’s desire is for us to enjoy the true joy and happiness that comes as a result of putting God first in our lives. It will save us from much heartache and the ugly baggage that are the result of living life in the world. Being happy is not being on a drunk binge with your friends in which you wake up the next morning in your own vomit, having lost your spouse and children. This leaves a deep and enduring pain in your soul which may be numbed by the activities in which you engage, but will never replace the true joy and happiness which may be experienced by living in relationship to the one true God. Happiness and holiness truly are related.
Lord, may I seek to live in the center of your will and presence today in all things. Amen.