Sermon on Happiness (based on Psalm 1)

Worship , , automatically translated , Evangelical Free Church Leichlingen


Today I would like to reflect with you a little bit about happiness. How does one become happy?

That's what everyone is interested in, isn't it?

For this I would like to look at a Psalm with you, Psalm 1 (NEÜ):

1 How enviably happy is he who does not listen to the advice of ungodly men, who does not take sinners as an example, who does not sit with scoffers, 2 But delights in the instruction of Yahweh, and ponders his word day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by the water, which brings forth its fruit in its season, and whose foliage never withers. Yes, whatever he does, it succeeds! 4 But the wicked are not like that. They are blown away by the wind like chaff. 5 The wicked do not stand in God's judgment, nor sinners in the fellowship of God's people. 6 Yahweh is concerned about the path of the righteous, but there is no trace of the wicked at the end.

"Enviably happy", that's what we all want to be, isn't it?

I found this formulation of the new evangelistic translation so beautiful, that is why I have taken it here at the beginning. at the beginning. But especially in the case of this Psalm, the comparison of different translations is very interesting, because it allows us to get closer to the original Hebrew text, i.e. the original meaning. the original Hebrew text, i.e. the original meaning, a little better than if you only use one translation. translation.

But let's get on with it.

Happy is he who does not...

This seems to support a bit of this thinking that the way to Christian happiness is through prohibitions.

So, to listen to the advice of the wicked is forbidden, to take sinners as an example and to sit with scoffers is forbidden. with scoffers is forbidden. One might think so. But this is not about prohibitions at all and I also think that that this view of prohibition is more of a nuisance than a help.

One aspect we need to consider for these verses is in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; NGÜ, where Paul writes to the church at Corinth:

9 In my earlier letter I warned you against dealing with people who lead immoral lives. 10 Of course, I was not thinking of people with whom you have contact in this world, but who do not know God. If you wanted to avoid contact with anyone who leads an immoral life, is greedy for money, rob others or worship idols, you would have no choice but to leave the world. 11 Therefore I am now writing to you 'once again in no uncertain terms': Have nothing to do with anyone who counts himself a member of the church and yet leads an immoral life or is greedy for money, worships idols, spreads slander, is a drunkard or robs others. So don't let such a person take part in your communal meals either. 12 Is it our duty to sit in judgement on those who are outside the church? Are you not rather obliged to call your own people to account? 13 Those outside will be judged by God Himself. "Exclude, then, the one who does evil from your community!"

I am aware that this passage raises a whole lot of questions, but it is clear that a clear distinction is made here between people, between people who count themselves as members of the congregation and the others.

This is not about sinlessness, but about the fact that a wrong lifestyle is so destructive that it endangers the church. it endangers the community. For example, if someone constantly spreads slander, it destroys the community, as well as if greed The same is true when greed dominates a person's lifestyle. I have a bit of a hard time with "drunkard", but I don't think we're talking about but I don't think we're talking about people who are struggling with their addiction, but rather people who are proud of their alcoholism and have no awareness of the problem at all. Even an immoral life can shake a community through the destruction of relationships. can shake a community.

Otherwise, I would like to limit myself to the point that one cannot and should not avoid contact with such people who in some way lead a bad life and who do not belong to the congregation. Jesus did not do that either.

Let us take a look at the first group of people from Psalm 1.



Is the word "godless" already a judgement? Or does it simply mean "atheists"?

In the past there were the "godless" communists, and in the run-up to the Third Reich quite a few Christians, or those who called themselves so, sympathised with or even supported the Nazis. called themselves so, sympathised with the Nazis or even supported them because they hoped that this would help them to fight the "godless" communists. communists. But that was certainly not God's will.

I think one should stick to the original meaning of the word "godless" here, although at least one translation, the Einheitsübersetzung, translates it as "sacrilegious" instead of "ungodly".

But ultimately this is about people for whom God does not exist and who therefore do not reckon with him.

That is, if a godless person, an atheist, gives you advice, he is not taking into account God's reality.

When it comes to individual pieces of advice, e.g. which car to buy, the advice of a person who does not know or want to know God can be useful. God can be useful, but when it comes to deeper questions of life, one will not be happy with such advice. such advice will not make you happy. There are many things a godless person cannot understand. How can he? How can you experience God if you believe that He does not exist? that he does not exist.

And various biblical principles are also foreign to most ungodly people.

E.g. the topic of "forgiveness": According to my experience, a frequent difference between a person who knows Jesus and one who does not is how to deal with forgiveness. is how they deal with forgiveness. The ungodly often see no need for forgiveness, especially when it comes to difficult people. difficult people. People who live with God cannot always forgive so easily and loosely either, but there is this awareness, that forgiveness is necessary and that forgiveness also means freedom.

Or what about God's will for my life? God has an interest in me, a plan that can be discovered together with him. And that, of course, has an influence on decisions. To what extent can a godless person understand this and incorporate it into his advice? Not at all.

Next come the


Another component of happiness lies in not making an example of these sinners.

Most other translations write alternatively, not to go the way of sinners. This is, of course, only a figurative expression, to take an example, to imitate the sinners.

The new Geneva translation writes "those who reject God" instead of "sinners" and that sums it up pretty well.

For we are not talking about traffic sinners, environmental sinners or weight sinners, but about people who reject God, whereby an environmental sinner could already belong to this group of people who reject God. This rejection is an increase of godlessness.

But just as with the ungodly, people who reject God naturally do not take into account God's will or the principles of the Bible in their lives. God's will and the principles of the Bible.

Where does such a path lead? Obviously, it leads away from God. Superficially, one can succeed with sinful behaviour. For example, one can become get rich by cheating. But you cannot come close to God through it, because sin separates you from God.

This is further elaborated in the later verses of the psalm.

Yes, and then come the


I mentioned a fortnight ago that in the past, visiting pubs and cinemas was not welcome or even forbidden in Christian circles. or even forbidden. Even more than 100 years ago, it was not uncommon for pubs to close during revivals, i.e. when many people in a region had found Jesus. Jesus in an area, pubs had to close down because the customers were not there.

Unfortunately, it was often the case that the workers were paid their wages weekly or even daily and drank it away in the pub. I know from stories that my great-grandfather on my mother's side, who worked as a raftsman on the Weser, did the same. and the family sometimes even had to go hungry. Rafting was a real back-breaking job, and he probably believed, like so many workers, that he'd earned this visit to the pub after the hard work.

This left countless families in poverty and hunger, and the pub had the character of a seducer back then. So it is easy to understand why, that in a new orientation of life, and that includes the decision for Jesus, the visit to the pub was cancelled.

Nowadays, you have many more ways to spend your money and also to waste it. You can get yourself into trouble on the teleshopping channel, in online shops and the like by ordering too much. and you don't need a pub to get drunk anymore, you can do it at the petrol station. Nowadays it is not so easy to live one's life by avoiding certain places. by avoiding certain places. In the end, sin and temptation are everywhere and only with Jesus Christ can we resist them. you can resist it.

Personally, I don't think it's bad to go to the pub. What is bad is when you get drunk or when you are running away from your spouse, then the pub can be a seduction. But the problems are not solved by avoiding the pub, but by tackling the causes of this escape, through conversation and also by going to the pub. of this escape, by talking and also by admitting mistakes and by forgiveness.

But let us come to the scoffers. Luther says: "Blessed is he ... still sits where the scoffers sit."

By the way, I have only met a few scoffers in the pub, although I am extremely rarely in a pub myself. (most recently at the beginning of the year). I also don't think that this is about a place, but that it is a kind of metaphor. The way of the sinners is not a real way. way. So if my neighbour was a sinner in the sense of Psalm 1 and his workplace was next to mine, it would still not be a problem, if I walked to work exactly the same way as my neighbour.

But what actually is a "scoffer"?

The Hope for All, which translates quite interpretatively, uses the description instead of the word "scoffers". "those who scoff at all that is holy". That sounds almost like youth language from the 80s. The good news writes something similar: people to whom nothing is sacred.

Wikipedia defines "mockery" as follows (excerpt):

Mockery is the deliberate ridiculing ("mocking") of a person, a particular group or their real or perceived values.
The opposite of ridicule as a weapon is praise.

Probably the goal of the mockers is already meant here in Psalm 1, as it is also meant in the Good News and in the Hope for All. for all. And to sit in the circle of such scoffers, or as it says in other translations, to have contact with them, can be very difficult. difficult. Can one then resist and contradict or is one seduced and joins in? Does one then get a mocking spirit? And how can one then still appreciate the sacred?

With the counsel of the ungodly and the way of sinners, it seems easier for me to stand apart. Although, I once had a long time ago I once had an upper boss, a managing director, who seemed to have too much free time. He would often walk around the offices and his life's wisdom to us. Unfortunately, you couldn't just say, "Can you please move along, boss? I want to work." I had to listen, but I didn't listen to him because it was often enough stupid stuff.

Sitting in a circle of mockers can happen even more often, of course. For example, I often go to the canteen with colleagues at lunchtime and we always like to take the mickey out of each other.

As a result, it sometimes happens, rarely, but it does happen that even the sacred is mocked, which is important to me. And it is not easy for me in such And it is not easy for me to react properly in such situations. I also want to be a witness in some way.

Somehow we like each other as colleagues and I'm not an orphan when it comes to taking each other for a ride, I'm not an orphan. But if the person I believe in were to be ridiculed at every lunchtime, then I would become unhappy in the group and no longer go along. and I wouldn't go along any more.

I believe that in many situations it is not so easy to identify the circle of scoffers from Psalm 1 that robs you of happiness. But, let him who lacks wisdom ask for it.

But "mockery" is also a topic I often think about in general. I like to watch cabaret and sometimes do a bit of cabaret myself. and especially in cabaret, mockery is often a means of making things clear and getting people to think. And for me, I always have to judge anew the boundaries between holding up a mirror and belittling the person as such.

The alternative

Now what is the alternative to the first verse, to "not"?

I read the second verse once in the NGÜ:

Happy is he who desires the law of the Lord and thinks about it day and night.

Here, too, a prejudice seems to be served. Some of my youth told me that their classmates imagined Christianity as always reading the Bible, day and night. Christianity is to read the Bible all the time, day and night. They don't want to come to the youth either. However, they However, when they do come, they dispel these prejudices.

But how is this verse meant? Here it is again about questions of life that occupy us. Happy is the one who has the desire to find the answers to his questions in the Bible. How do I get to know God better, how do I live with God, how do I experience God? What is right, what is wrong? What does God want from me and how do I make the right decisions?

You are lucky if you have these questions and have a longing for the Bible to find answers.

And when you have that longing, you often think about it. "Day and night" is a metaphor for the fact that it occupies you at all times.

Perhaps "day and night" also stands for light and dark times. If things are going well for you, thank God for it, and if things are going badly for you, seek help from Him.

But most importantly, ask for this longing for the Bible, for therein lies true happiness.

Any Bible snippets from sermons are not enough. They can be good food for thought and I hope this sermon is too. But you have to look into the Bible yourself, read it and think about it, in the Old Testament as well as in the New. That is the only way to get to know God better, and that is the way to happiness.

And looking at the Bible together, e.g. in house groups, also helps, of course.

Comparison of the paths

Now we come to the rest of the Psalm.

In v.3 to 6 these two paths are compared. The happy person who is on the right path is like a tree planted by the water. planted by the water and therefore always bears leaves and always has fruit at harvest time. So he does not have to bear fruit all the time, but the harvests are successful. What such a person undertakes, succeeds.

God knows this way, or according to the NGÜ he watches over this way, over the way of the people who do his will.

I have a bit of difficulty with a statement like "What such a person undertakes, he succeeds". I do believe that it's basically true, but I can't always reconcile it with the reality that I perceive.

The world is not perfect and we are not perfect. And if things go wrong for people who walk with Jesus, then that is part of this fallen world. part of this fallen world. Many questions remain unanswered that will only be answered after our death.

This tree by the water does not bear fruit all the time, it also has periods of growth and bad weather can certainly affect it. but it is always connected to the sap of life and therefore its existence is permanent and it will bear fruit again and again. bring forth fruit.

The other way does not have this lasting perspective.

It is quite different with the wicked: they are like the chaff that the wind blows away. That is why they cannot stand when God holds court. Those who reject God have no place in the congregation of those who live according to His will!

No fruit and no permanence. Nothing remains. The last half verse of this Psalm in the different translations is interesting.

In the Elberfelder, for example, it says "but the way of the wicked perishes", whereas in the NGÜ, for example, it says: "But the way that the wicked take, leads to destruction."

It sounds different, but in the end everything that does not end with God is useless and perdition.

Here we are not talking in detail about which deeds are ungodly and which are not, but about choosing the right sources. sources. Happiness is in the law of the Lord, which is ultimately an image for the Bible, although the Bible is much more than a law book.

What is important for God should also be important for us, only then will we be happy.


I come to the conclusion: