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;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
I was incredulous as I stooped to pick it up from my doorstep – a package that threatened to undermine a foundational principle in my childhood instruction. I was taught from a very young age, “Money cannot buy happiness.” Yet, there on my front porch was a brown cardboard box emblazoned with #HAPPINESS GUARANTEED in bold blue letters across its side. Not only had my daughter managed to buy happiness, but UPS delivered it right to our door, and it came with a money-back guarantee!
This is what you might call, “marketing run amuck.” We can overlook partisan claims that one’s product is number one; I used to shout that at my high school’s basketball games and knew full well it was not true. We have come to expect the promise of, “satisfaction guaranteed.” We also suspect that the guarantee is for those who find satisfaction in surviving the customer service gauntlet. But happiness guaranteed? What a ridiculous claim for what essentially falls under the general category of stuff.
The psalmist is not a marketer. He is not God’s sales agent or public relations director. He is more like a spiritual fiduciary. He is telling us what is valuable and will be profitable for us in the long term. He has our best interests in mind. He also warns us of what will bring us to certain ruin.
“Blessed is the man….” This beginning phrase in the very first psalm of the book of Psalms, holds out the promise of blessedness to those who heed its counsel. In contrast to the ridiculous claim of happiness secured through stuff, here is the very reasonable claim of blessedness secured through our Creator. Our secular society has robbed itself of many blessings; chief among those is purposefulness. One only finds purpose in design; if there was no intelligent design, there is no real purpose. God created us all for a purpose, so there is the very real possibility of finding and fulfilling that purpose. Those who do so are blessed.
The initial statements are negative. We are told what the blessed man does not do. This is because the blessed man is uncharacteristic of the typical man. Many take the comfortable way, the convenient way, or the popular way. Yet, this man knows with certainty that he has taken the only way that brings true and lasting happiness. He knows because he relies on the testimony of God. As Christians, we must be just as certain and unapologetic in the assertion that faith in Christ is the only way to finding eternal bliss. For that is what Jesus claimed, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)