Hans Madueme

May 22, 2023

“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.”

Psalm 1:1-2

What does it mean to be really and truly happy? It’s a question as old as humanity and was pondered by ancient philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. They identified the good life in human reason and virtues like wisdom, courage, and justice.

However, Epicurus thought that life’s purpose is to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. He would seem to be the patron saint of most people in the West today. Life is a constant barrage of commercials hawking their products as the magical elixir that will make us shiny, happy people.

I pray that God will enable the PCA to keep testifying to the truths of Psalm 1:1–2. According to the psalmist, true happiness lies first in recognizing the dangers of sin rather than trivializing it. As soon as we start cozying up to sin, we end up on a slippery slope, each step worse than the next. That’s how sin is. Rub shoulders with it and it starts rubbing off on you. Before you know it, you are far from God.

Instead, the psalmist points us to true blessedness—delighting in the law of the Lord and meditating on Scripture day and night. The Christian life is not merely avoiding sin but is spending time with God and hearing his words, and not just doing so, but loving to do so. We want to be close to God, so that he rubs off on us and we grow in godliness.

Real happiness is hearing the words of God. Reading Scripture, speaking it aloud, or listening to an audio version of the Bible should never be a chore or something onerous. Rather, it is our supreme delight, something to love, enjoy, and cherish.

Hearing God speaking in Scripture is like eating physical food. We do it every day, and it nourishes us, sometimes triggering growth spurts, but usually working invisibly, sustaining us day in and day out. The habitual reading of Scripture is like eating spiritual food every day. Jesus makes this point in Matthew 4:4 when responding to the devil’s temptation: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

But who of us can measure up to the blessed person who is constantly meditating on God’s Word? Most of us struggle to squeeze in a few minutes every day. Sometimes we go stretches without imbibing the life-giving waters of holy writ. Jesus, however, did not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. He delighted in the law of the Lord and meditated on it day and night. He was like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

Father, make us more like Jesus, the Blessed Man of Psalm 1. Empower us by the Spirit to keep growing in knowing God, relishing every step of the lifelong adventure. Then we can sing with the psalmist, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you” (Ps. 63:3).

Hans Madueme is associate professor of theological studies at Covenant College