How are you doing as we come to the end of 2020? Worn out with lockdown fatigue? Maybe you are enjoying a little relief because you made it to the end of the year in one piece. You may be struggling with some depression – or even PTSD – over what has happened to you, your family, or your business since last February. As we approach the end of 2020 you may be looking toward 2021 with deep anxiety, or outright fear. This last year was not just “another year.” When we look back, we realize that we are living in a world that is very different than a year ago. It is amazing how quickly things have changed! We are all wrestling with the question, “Is this the new normal?” Whether it is, or not (“not” is my hope) – I wish all of you a very happy 2021!
Unfortunately, wishing something does not make it happen – so let’s pair my wish for you with some wisdom from God Himself. We can find this wisdom in His Word – the Bible.
The Old Testament contains different genres, or kinds, of literature. Some of it is history, other parts contain prophecy. Parts of it are written in prose, other parts in poetry. There is another genre that is found throughout the Old Testament and is mostly found in the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. These writings are known as “Wisdom Literature.” Wisdom literature is there to teach us to see the world as it really is. It helps us to view our daily lives from God’s perspective, not our own. That is why real wisdom starts with the “fear of the Lord” (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33).
One of the signs that indicate you are heading into wisdom territory is the word “Blessed.” It is the Hebrew word esher and means “How happy!” It indicates a condition, or a state of being. It is found in expressions like “Blessed is the man,” “Blessed is the nation,” “Blessed is he,” or “Blessed are they” which are usually followed by something that person(s) did, found, or received.
So the purpose of this wisdom is to teach us how to live a happy life in this world, as corrupt, depressing, and changeable as it is. Happiness comes from wisdom because wisdom teaches us to live in a way that harmonizes with the way God designed His creation to work.
We will start with Psalm 1 – the “Gateway Psalm” – that starts us on this path to happiness and work our way through:
- Psalm 1:1 – Scrutinize – those in the media, your friends, the music you listen to, or even your teachers – who are influencing you. Are they wicked – living like there is no God? Are they sinners – disregarding God’s laws? Are they scorners – people who make fun of God, His Word, His ways, or His people? If so, do not let them influence you to walk on the wrong path, to stand in the wrong place, or to sit with them in their mockery. Challenge them in class. Do not let them harden you to the only source of true wisdom – the Bible.
- Psalm 1:2 – Meditate, and ponder God’s Word “day and night” – regularly and consistently. Don’t “make time” for this activity – build your life around it! Let His Word become your delight (Psalm 112:1.) Let it keep you on the right track (Psalm 119:1). Let the Word give you a hunger for Him (Psalm 119:2). Guard His Word – keep it close to your heart at all times (Proverbs 29:18).
- Psalm 2:12 – Repent (“kiss the son lest He be angry”), and trust the Son. The word for trust here – hasa – means to flee to for protection in extraordinarily dangerous situations (in this case a coming final judgment.) Repenting and calling on Jesus to save you is the first step to real happiness!
- Psalm 32:1,2 – Real happiness comes from knowing that your sins are forgiven, that God now sees you as righteous through Christ, and fellowship with Him is restored. The good news is that the price of that forgiveness has already been paid through the blood of Christ.
- Psalm 33:12 – Worship the right God. Everyone has a god – a controlling influence in their lives. The question is this: “Is your god the REAL God?” Happy are the people whose God is the LORD (Psalm 144:15).
- Psalm 40:4; Psalm 84:5 – Trust in, rely on, the Lord. This word is mibtah, a different word than hasa. It means to put your confidence and find your security in Him, as opposed to the proud or the liars.
- Psalm 41:1; Proverbs 14:21 – Consider (pay attention to, do not ignore, be careful how you treat) the poor because Yahweh will repay you for your kindness to them.
- Psalm 84:4 – Dwell in God’s house. His house is a household – a place or status of being in fellowship with Him as well as the others who dwell in His house. Do not neglect your private times with Him or the gathering together of believers!
- Psalm 84:5 – Maintain a “pilgrim mentality” – let the “ways of pilgrimage” find a home in your heart. This is how the heroes of faith lived (Hebrews 11). Beware of the “nest!” (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58).
- Psalm 84:11,12 – Trust in the Lord for your daily needs. Bata is the most frequently used word for trust and is different than the other two previously mentioned. You could say it refers to living in a house that protects us from everyday things such as the elements, while hasa is more like a bomb or hurricane shelter we flee to in times of danger. It talks about a daily abiding in His protection and provision.
- Psalm 106:3 – Always do what is just and right- in your personal relationships and your business dealings.
- Psalm 127:5 – Have lots of children! If you don’t, or can’t, have any kids of your own – the word “children” here could also be more than our natural offspring – they can be people we mentored, or have taken under our wing. Happiness comes from investing yourself in your children and the lives of others – helping them live right-side-up in an upside-down world!
- Psalm 112:1; 128:1 – Fear the Lord. Keep Him always before you. Live as one who will give an account for every word, action, and motive.
- Psalm 146:5 – Let Him help you! When you need wisdom, call on Him (James 1:5). He is the God of Jacob.
- Proverbs 3:13; 8:32; 8:34 – Seek wisdom, cry out for understanding. Proverbs calls it the principal thing. You can read about it in Proverbs (go through the whole book every month – reading a chapter a day.) However, when God gives wisdom, it does not only come through what we read. It comes as we usually does not come in pretty packaging (sometimes pretty rough) – but when you find it, it brings happiness.
Whew! Fifteen items – that is quite a list. There is a lot more that can be said about every one of these Scriptures but I will leave that up to you. As you go through 2021, take some time to look these Scriptures up. Memorize them. Study them in their context and do a word study. Whatever you do, do it with the goal of making them guiding principles for your life. If you do, I am sure – regardless of how this new year shapes up – you will be living happy in 2021.