The very first word we read in the book of Psalms is blessed. The Hebrew here is ’ešer (H835), a masculine noun meaning a person’s state of bliss. It’s never used of God, rather always of people, and is exclamatory in emphasis, as in “O the bliss of . . .” Most of its forty-four appearances are appropriately in the poetry of Psalms and Proverbs.
It is extremely significant that the Septuagint translates ’ešer using the Greek makarios, which our Lord used nine times in the Beatitudes (Mat_5:3-11). Many Bible teachers say this word just means “happy,” which is always circumstantial. It actually speaks of the far deeper idea of an inward contentedness not affected by circumstances (Php_4:11-13).
Of the many occurrences of ’ešer, one that immediately strikes us is Psa_1:1 : “Blessed is the man,” where the unknown psalmist distinguishes two lifestyles (February 23), one that is blessed and one that is not. We find in Psa_1:1-3 three realities that produce genuine bliss and contentment:
First, a path that is holy. In three distinct statements, the psalmist outlines holiness. The holy person first does not stroll with the “ungodly” (rāšā‘, H7563) people. He doesn’t associate with, listen to, or join those who are guilty before God and transgressors of His Law. Second, the holy person does not stand with sinners. Way is derek (February 23), a marked-out pattern of life, and “standeth” is ‘āmaḏ (H5975), which figuratively indicates living somewhere, standing, remaining there (e.g., Exo_8:22, dwell). The holy life, then, is one that does not remain in sin (1Jn_3:9, where “commit” is present tense, to “continually habitually commit sin”). Third, the holy person does not sit with the “scornful” (liys, H3887) person, that is, one who boasts, scoffs, mocks, and derides, as in showing or expressing utter contempt, in this case for the things of God.
Second, blessedness comes from a passion for Scripture. The blissful and contented person is one who takes delight (February 29) in God’s Word and his meditation (January 6) on it is the rule of life and his daily priority.
Third, blessedness comes from a prosperity dependent upon God. The image of sitting by a river is a graphic one, picturing nourishment, growth, fruitfulness, and much more. While “prosperity teachers” promise monetary riches, true prosperity is found in the spiritual riches we have in Christ (Eph_1:3-23).
Scriptures for Study: Read the following verses, noting what else brings bliss and true contentedness: Psa_2:12; Psa_32:1-2; Psa_112:1; Psa_119:1-2; Psa_127:4-5; Pro_3:13 (“happy”); Pro_8:32.
WILL DIVINE RECIPROCATION MAKE YOU HAPPY?
William A. Dillard
Parson to Person
Some questions are so important that one must know the answers. One question to which I refer is resounded in Holy Writ, but it is also penned quite pointedly in the lyrics of a classic hymn. “What will you do with Jesus, neutral you cannot be. One day your heart will be asking, ‘what will He do with me.’” Could there be a more relevant and pressing question on a greater number of people than this? Jesus plainly declared that those who deny Him, He will deny before the Father. Matt. 10:33.
Jesus needs to be in the forefront of life. Think about this incident. “And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: “The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.” John 12:20-21. It occurs to this writer that the wholesale rejection of organized religion by the majority of our nation’s population is partly due to the obscurity of Jesus. Please consider:
* Great edifices with stained glass windows and air conditioned environment are pointed to with pride, but where is Jesus?
* Social programs designed to busy one abound, but where is Jesus?
* The determination to present a non-offensive religion a lost society may keep the pews warm and the coffers full, but where is Jesus?
* Pulpits may be ablaze with educated homilies, but where is Jesus?
Strong witnessing and preaching about Jesus is needed! Men must know they are lost without Him, and that His sweet grace is freely offered to them for the trusting.
Consider the contrast of long ago with today’s society. Zacchaeus was so excited about the possibility of seeing Jesus that he climbed a tree to do it. Believers were so excited over the prospect of bringing a palsied man to Jesus that they cut a large hole in the roof of the house where He was. Multitudes followed Jesus to hear Him, and to witness His works without regard for food or lodging.
Today, people are so complacent about Jesus they are more likely to go fishing or to visit relatives than to meet with Him for worship. They will avoid any discussion of the need of salvation among their fellows for fear of being considered a radical. Often church meetings are esteemed so unimportant that members will look for excuses to be absent. Is the power of God diminished, or have we faked people into the church who are incapable of spiritual appreciation and excitement?
These things may be easily dismissed by nominal, worldly-minded “Christians,” but judgment flies toward earth on swift wings. Dear friends, “What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be! One day your heart will be asking: ‘What will He do with me?’” Will you be happy with reciprocation?
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