Do You Find Delight in “the Law of Jehovah”?
“Happy is the man . . . [whose] delight is in the law of Jehovah.”—PSALM 1:1, 2.
1. Why are we happy as Jehovah’s servants?
JEHOVAH supports and blesses us as his loyal servants. True, we face many trials. However, we also enjoy genuine happiness. This is not surprising, for we serve “the happy God,” and his holy spirit produces joy in our hearts. (1 Timothy 1:11; Galatians 5:22) Joy is the state of true happiness resulting from the expectation or acquisition of something good. And our heavenly Father certainly gives us good gifts. (James 1:17) No wonder we are happy!
2. Which psalms are we going to discuss?
2 Happiness is featured prominently in the book of Psalms. For instance, this is true of Psalms 1 and 2. Jesus Christ’s early followers ascribed the second psalm to Israel’s King David. (Acts 4:25, 26) The unnamed composer of the first psalm begins his inspired song with the words: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked ones.” (Psalm 1:1) In this article and the next, let us see how Psalms 1 and 2 give us reason to rejoice.
The Secret of Happiness
3. According to Psalm 1:1, what are some reasons why a godly person is happy?
3 Psalm 1 shows why a godly person is happy. Giving some reasons for such happiness, the psalmist sings: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked ones, and in the way of sinners has not stood, and in the seat of ridiculers has not sat.”—Psalm 1:1.
4. What exemplary course was pursued by Zechariah and Elizabeth?
4 To be truly happy, we must comply with Jehovah’s righteous requirements. Zechariah and Elizabeth, who had the joyous privilege of becoming the parents of John the Baptizer, “were righteous before God because of walking blamelessly in accord with all the commandments and legal requirements of Jehovah.” (Luke 1:5, 6) We can be happy if we pursue a similar course and firmly refuse to ‘walk in the counsel of the wicked’ or to be guided by their ungodly advice.
5. What can help us to avoid “the way of sinners”?
5 If we reject the thinking of wicked ones, we will not be ‘standing in the way of sinners.’ In fact, we literally will not be found where they often are—in places of immoral entertainment or of ill repute. What if we are tempted to join sinners in their unscriptural conduct? Then let us pray for God’s help to act in harmony with the apostle Paul’s words: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) If we rely on God and are “pure in heart,” we will reject the spirit and life-style of sinners and will have clean motives and desires, along with “faith without hypocrisy.”—Matthew 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:5.
6. Why should we be on guard respecting ridiculers?
6 To please Jehovah, we surely ‘must not sit in the seat of ridiculers.’ Some ridicule godliness itself, but in these “last days,” former Christians who have become apostates often prove to be especially scornful in their ridicule. The apostle Peter warned fellow believers: “Beloved ones, . . . you know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’” (2 Peter 3:1-4) If we never ‘sit in the seat of ridiculers,’ we will avoid the disaster that is sure to befall them.—Proverbs 1:22-27.
7. Why should we take the words of Psalm 1:1 to heart?
7 Unless we take the opening words of Psalm 1 to heart, we could lose the spirituality we have acquired through a study of the Scriptures. In fact, we could then go from bad to worse. Our downward spiral might begin if we follow the counsel of the wicked. Then we might associate with them regularly. In time, we might even become faithless apostate ridiculers. Obviously, friendship with wicked ones can foster an ungodly spirit within us and can destroy our relationship with Jehovah God. (1 Corinthians 15:33; James 4:4) May we never allow that to happen to us!
8. What will help us to keep our minds fixed on spiritual things?
8 Prayer will help us to keep our minds fixed on spiritual things and to avoid companionship with wicked ones. “Do not be anxious over anything,” wrote Paul, “but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” The apostle encouraged consideration of things that are true, of serious concern, righteous, chaste, lovable, well spoken of, virtuous, and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:6-8) Let us act in harmony with Paul’s counsel and never stoop to the level of wicked ones.
9. Although we avoid wicked practices, how do we try to help all sorts of people?
9 Although we reject wicked practices, we do give a tactful witness to others, even as the apostle Paul spoke to Roman Governor Felix “about righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come.” (Acts 24:24, 25; Colossians 4:6) We preach the good news of the Kingdom to all sorts of people, and we treat them in a kind manner. We are confident that those “rightly disposed for everlasting life” will become believers and delight in God’s law.—Acts 13:48.
He Delights in Jehovah’s Law
10. What will help to make a lasting impression on our mind and heart during periods of personal study?
10 Regarding the happy man, the psalmist further says: “His delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.” (Psalm 1:2) As God’s servants, we ‘delight in the law of Jehovah.’ When possible, during periods of personal study and meditation, we may read “in an undertone,” sounding out the words. Doing this when reading any portion of the Scriptures will help to make a lasting impression on our mind and heart.
11. Why should we read the Bible “day and night”?
11 “The faithful and discreet slave” has encouraged us to read the Bible daily. (Matthew 24:45) Because of a keen desire to become better acquainted with Jehovah’s message for mankind, we may well read the Bible “day and night”—yes, even when we cannot sleep for some reason. Peter urged us: “As newborn infants, form a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word, that through it you may grow to salvation.” (1 Peter 2:1, 2) Do you find delight in reading the Bible daily and meditating on God’s Word and purposes at night? The psalmist did.—Psalm 63:6.
12. What will we do if we delight in Jehovah’s law?
12 Our eternal happiness depends on our taking delight in God’s law. It is perfect and righteous, and there is a great reward in keeping it. (Psalm 19:7-11) The disciple James wrote: “He who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it, this man, because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing it.” (James 1:25) If we truly delight in Jehovah’s law, not a day will pass without our giving consideration to spiritual matters. Indeed, we will be motivated to ‘search into the deep things of God’ and to keep Kingdom interests first in life.—1 Corinthians 2:10-13; Matthew 6:33.
He Becomes Like a Tree
13-15. In what sense can we be like a tree planted beside a plentiful water source?
13 Further describing the upright person, the psalmist says: “He will certainly become like a tree planted by streams of water, that gives its own fruit in its season and the foliage of which does not wither, and everything he does will succeed.” (Psalm 1:3) Like all other imperfect humans, we who serve Jehovah experience difficulties in life. (Job 14:1) We may suffer persecution and various other trials related to our faith. (Matthew 5:10-12) With God’s help, however, we are able to endure these tests successfully, just as a healthy tree withstands comparatively strong winds.
14 A tree planted by an unfailing water source does not dry up in hot weather or during a drought. If we are God-fearing individuals, our strength comes from an unfailing Source—Jehovah God. Paul looked to God for help and could say: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him [Jehovah] who imparts power to me.” (Philippians 4:13) When we are guided and spiritually sustained by Jehovah’s holy spirit, we do not wither away, becoming unfruitful or spiritually dead. We are fruitful in God’s service and also manifest the fruitage of his spirit.—Jeremiah 17:7, 8; Galatians 5:22, 23.
15 By using the Hebrew word form rendered “like,” the psalmist is employing a simile. He is comparing two things that are different, though they share a particular quality. Men and trees differ, but the luxuriance of a tree planted beside a plentiful water source evidently reminded the psalmist of the spiritual prosperity of those whose “delight is in the law of Jehovah.” If we take delight in God’s law, our days can become like those of a tree. In fact, we can live forever.—John 17:3.
16. Why and in what respect is it that ‘everything we do succeeds’?
16 As we pursue an upright course, Jehovah helps us to bear the pressure of trials and difficulties. We are joyful and fruitful in God’s service. (Matthew 13:23; Luke 8:15) ‘Everything we do succeeds’ because our main objective is to do Jehovah’s will. Since his purposes always succeed and we delight in his commandments, we prosper spiritually. (Genesis 39:23; Joshua 1:7, 8; Isaiah 55:11) This is so even when we face adversities.—Psalm 112:1-3; 3 John 2.
The Wicked Seem to Prosper
17, 18. (a) To what does the psalmist liken the wicked? (b) Even if the wicked prosper materially, why do they have no lasting security?
17 How the lot of the wicked differs from that of the righteous! Wicked ones may appear to prosper materially for a time, but they are not prospering spiritually. This is evident from the psalmist’s further words: “The wicked are not like that, but are like the chaff that the wind drives away. That is why the wicked ones will not stand up in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of righteous ones.” (Psalm 1:4, 5) Note that the psalmist says, “the wicked are not like that.” He means that they are not like godly people, who have just been compared to fruitful, long-lasting trees.
18 Even if wicked ones prosper materially, they have no lasting security. (Psalm 37:16; 73:3, 12) They are like the unreasonable rich man Jesus mentioned in an illustration when asked to arbitrate in a matter involving an inheritance. Jesus told those present: “Keep your eyes open and guard against every sort of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” Jesus illustrated this point by saying that the land of a certain rich man produced so well that he planned to tear down his storehouses and build bigger ones to hold all his good things. The man then planned to eat, drink, and enjoy himself. But God said: “Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you. Who, then, is to have the things you stored up?” Making his powerful point, Jesus added: “So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”—Luke 12:13-21.
19, 20. (a) Describe the ancient threshing and winnowing process. (b) Why are the wicked likened to chaff?
19 The wicked are not “rich toward God.” Hence, they have no more security and stability than does chaff, the thin covering on kernels of grain. After grain was harvested in ancient times, it was taken to a threshing floor, a flat area generally on high ground. There sledges with sharp stone or iron teeth on their underside were pulled over the grain by animals to break the stalks into pieces and loosen the kernels from the chaff. Next, a winnowing shovel was used to pick up the whole mixture and toss it into the air against the wind. (Isaiah 30:24) The kernels fell back onto the threshing floor, while the breeze carried the straw off to the side and blew the chaff away. (Ruth 3:2) After the grain was passed through a sieve to remove pebbles and the like, it was ready for storage or grinding. (Luke 22:31) But the chaff was gone.
20 Just as the kernels of grain dropped to the ground and were preserved while the chaff was blown away, so the righteous will remain and the wicked will be removed. Surely, though, we are happy that such evildoers will soon be gone forever. With them out of the way, people who take delight in Jehovah’s law will be greatly blessed. Indeed, obedient humans will eventually receive God’s gift of everlasting life.—Matthew 25:34-46; Romans 6:23.
The Blessed “Way of Righteous Ones”
21. How is it that Jehovah ‘takes knowledge of the righteous ones’?
21 The first psalm concludes with these words: “Jehovah is taking knowledge of the way of righteous ones, but the very way of wicked ones will perish.” (Psalm 1:6) How does God ‘take knowledge of the righteous ones’? Well, if we are pursuing an upright course, we can be sure that our heavenly Father gives recognition to our godly life and views us as his approved servants. In turn, we can and should throw all our anxiety upon him with the conviction that he really cares for us.—Ezekiel 34:11; 1 Peter 5:6, 7.
22, 23. What will happen to the wicked and to the righteous?
22 “The way of righteous ones” will remain forever, but incorrigibly wicked people will perish because of Jehovah’s adverse judgment. And their “way,” or course of life, will end with them. We can have confidence in the fulfillment of David’s words: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace. The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:10, 11, 29.
23 What happiness we will experience if we are privileged to live on a paradise earth when wicked ones no longer exist! The meek and righteous will then enjoy true peace because they will always find delight in “the law of Jehovah.” Before then, however, “the decree of Jehovah” must be put in force. (Psalm 2:7a) The next article will help us to see what that decree is and what it will mean for us and for the entire human family.
How Would You Answer?
• Why is a godly person happy?
• What shows that we find delight in Jehovah’s law?
• How can an individual be like a well-watered tree?
• How does the way of the righteous differ from that of the wicked?
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Prayer will help us to avoid companionship with wicked ones
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Why is a righteous person like a tree?