The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 227)

Spiritual Happiness and Prosperity

Christian Living

1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

(Psalm 1)

During Chinese New Year, the common and very popular greeting is, “Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous Year”. This is understandable, because the world focuses on the present with happiness and prosperity based on material things. In Psalm 1, there is a very clear teaching on spiritual happiness and prosperity which has eternal value and consequences. In fact, this Psalm may be entitled, “The Secret of Spiritual Happiness and Prosperity”. There are five lessons we can learn from this Psalm.

A Portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ
The first thing we learn is that this Psalm is a portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ. After the Lord rose from the dead, He walked to Emmaus and met up with the two disciples on the road. The Bible said, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Lk 24:27). Later on, He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Lk 24:44).

The first verse of the Psalm begins with the word “Blessed”. This word describes someone who enjoys God’s favour and therefore is perfectly happy and this applies aptly to the Lord Jesus. That is why it said of Him in Heb 1:9b that He was anointed with oil of gladness above His fellows. The happiest, most peaceful and most joyful person that ever lived in the world was Jesus Christ although He was also acquainted with much grief and sorrow.

The first verse also describes the Lord Jesus. He never once listened to the ungodly. He never once walked or stood in the path of sinners. He never once scorned or ridiculed especially the faithful by sitting at the seat of the scornful. Moreover, the Lord’s delight was in the Law of the LORD. When He was 12 years old, He was at the Temple at Jerusalem asking and answering questions about God’s Law with the so-called doctors of theology. At the beginning of His preaching ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth, He spoke from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. When He worked miracles or gave teaching to people, He was immersed in the Bible. Even when He was nailed to the cross, it was Scriptures that came out of His mouth. His last words before He died were verbatim quotes from the Bible. There has not been anybody who has delighted in the Law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night like our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 3 gives a picture of an evergreen tree bringing forth mouth-watering fruits. Some lives are like that but only one life was perfectly like that. In a world where there was spiritual ruin all around, there came a Life which was unspoiled, fruitful and lovely to behold. It was, of course, the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally verse 3b reads “… whatever he does shall prosper”. God sent Him into the world to accomplish salvation for us. Everything that He was sent to do, He did perfectly. So, at the end He could say, “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30). There is only One who has truly prospered and He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Deterioration
The second lesson is that just as there is spiritual prosperity, there is also such a thing as spiritual deterioration. Deterioration is going downhill. It is like grey hair appearing on a man or woman. Others notice it before the person discovers it himself. When people start going downhill spiritually and when they are not quite what they used to be, other people see it before they do. It is a slow and subtle thing which you may not spot until it happens. Now, this Psalm tells us that spiritual deterioration does not take place all at once.

In verse 1, the verbs “walk”, “stand” and “sit” indicate how spiritual deterioration progresses. It starts with walking along a certain path, and then a stop, with a final sitting down in a settled state. The adjectives “ungodly”, “sinful” and “scornful” further describe the process. Ungodly means not doing what you should. That is where all trouble starts. Sinning means doing what you should not. That is the second step. Scornful means you are now against what you stood for. This is what the Bible calls apostasy. But it does not happen all at once. The nouns “counsel”, “path” and “seat” clarify the steps downwards. You listen to the counsel or words of the world or the devil, you start going that path, you then become fixed in that seat or position.

With this teaching in mind, it is good to examine whether this is happening in your life or you are well on the way. Is it possible, since a year ago, that your spiritual life has gone down or you have lost the edge to your Christian life?

A Wonderful Thing to See
The third lesson is that spiritual prosperity is wonderful to see. The Psalm begins with the word “blessed”. The word “blessed” when applied to the people denotes a state of happiness. We often hear the expression “May God bless you”. The blessing is really the consciousness that God is with us. So the psalmist is saying that here is a man who is in sickness and is conscious that God is with him. Here is a man who is well and is conscious that God is with him. Here is a man going through poverty and knows that God is there. Now the same person becomes rich and does not forget God. In every circumstance and every situation and every day and every hour, this person knows that God is with him. How blessed!

Christians often have opportunities to visit people in trouble or in sickness. There are two sorts of visits. There is one in which you come away feeling sour because the person is sour and bitter himself, complaining and moaning. There are others going through far worse troubles and heartbreaks but they are conscious that God is with them. It is a blessing to be with such people. It is a blessing to come away from their company. You feel strengthened and enriched by it. You feel stronger and more ready to go forward yourself.

In verse 3 there is a picture of the green tree with healthy fruits. Whatever the blessed man does prospers from God's perspective. If he is a businessman, he operates on spiritual principles. Whatever goes on in his office or factory will reflect as closely as possible what the Bible teaches. The proof that he is spiritually prosperous is that his business does not destroy his spiritual life, his family life, his church life, but rather builds them up. That is the proof of prosperity. The same goes with whether you are a student or a housewife. Here is a student who tries to please God in everything. He may not do as well as others but his life will prosper in all its aspects. Now for a housewife, what would it mean for her to prosper as God looks at it? It would mean that her house would become a home and a source where others find Christ, are strengthened in Christ and where God is worshipped. It would be an oasis of comfort, help and even rebuke, where lives are put straight or mended.

An Open Secret
The fourth point is that the secret of spiritual prosperity is an open secret. The Psalm tells us what not to do and what to do. Verse 1 tells us what not to do. When people who do not love God give advice, we do not listen to that advice. When people lead the way and it isn’t God’s way, we do not go with them. When people ridicule others especially when they scorn the Word of God and the people of God, our mouths are closed. Then, we would have learned that the secret of spiritual prosperity starts with one of the shortest words, one that is both easiest and hardest to say -- “No!”

Then the psalmist tells us what to do. We are to delight in the Law of God and to meditate on it. When we take delight in something, we pluck up our ears at the slightest mention of it. So, Bible study, whether alone or in company should be our delight. We cannot spiritually prosper when our Bibles are closed while they should be opened. We cannot be spiritually prosperous if the Bible is studied somewhere, and we could be there but we are not.

It is not enough just to read the Bible, we must meditate on it. The word meditate in Hebrew carries the image of a cow eating the grass by chewing it, regurgitating it back and forth in its stomachs at its leisure. So the person who delights and meditates on the Word of God takes in the Word as much as he can and then at other times, in his leisure, brings it up, weighs it, thinks about it, “chews” it and “swallows” it. The Word becomes part of him. Of course such a person becomes spiritual. He is thinking the thoughts of God. If we believe right by God’s grace, we will behave right.

The Subject is of Eternal Importance
This subject is of more importance than we imagine. In verse 4, we read that ungodly people who do not delight and meditate on the Word of God are like chaff. Here is a picture of the farmer who throws the grain harvest into the air, separating the good grain from the chaff. The good grain is gathered into the barn, and the chaff is blown away, fit only for burning.

The day is coming when God’s people will be taken to His barn. But the wicked will be cast out of His presence. There is a separation coming at the end of the times. In verse 5 we read that the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment. When the judgment takes place and God’s books are opened, there will be men and women who will not have a leg to stand on because they spent their life running away from God. God reveals Himself through His Word and they neglected it. They won’t be among the congregation of the righteous who are taken to glory.

We read in verse 6b, “The way of the ungodly shall perish”. What is their way of life? They are ungodly, which means that God’s Word is left out from their lives. There is a way that God loves, verse 6a, “The LORD knows the way of the righteous”. The LORD loves the way of the righteous and they will enjoy His favour and protection.

Who will prosper spiritually? Who will it be? Will it be you? And who will be lost? Will it be you? The issue will be decided by what you do with the first Psalm.

Chua Eu Jin
- Chua Eu Jin is an elder of The 'Fisherman of Christ' Fellowship.

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