By Dr. Kevin Jackson
How to drastically increase your happiness with 1 action
Editor’s note: Grenada pastor Kevin Jackson will be writing a monthly Bible study through Psalm 119. This is part 1.
DISCONTENTED. DISCOURAGED. DEPRESSED. Impatient. Frustrated. Angry. Do these words describe your life? Do you ever wonder, “How did I get here?” Can you think back to a time when you were more energetic and enthusiastic about living life? Do you ever wish you could go back to that time?
Frankly, this is a common experience for believers. The average reader can observe this same idea in the book of Psalms. Throughout the Old Testament, the writers often presented “two ways” of living. The Psalter is littered with this type of thought paradigm. The “two ways” of living are: God remembrance and God forgetfulness. A good example of this paradigm is in Proverbs 3:5–6. Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding…”
In Psalm 119:1-8, the Psalmist used different language but he communicated the same idea presented in Proverbs 3:5–6. He wrote about the “blessed life,” which is another way of saying “the happy life.” In those brief eight verses, the Psalmist expressed the one idea that can truly make a person happy.
In Psalm 119:1-4, the Psalmist used the word blessed two times. The Hebrew word blessed means a state of happiness and joy. In effect, the Psalmist told the reader how to experience happiness in life. In Psalm 119:1, he used the word walk. The word walk carries the idea of a person’s daily life.
According to the Psalmist, daily life must be married to God’s definitions for life. Since God is the creator of life, He is the one who defines all of life. For believers, God has defined and revealed the meaning for life in the gospel. In the gospel, people can see the humility of Christ’s humanity, the sacrifice of Christ on behalf of others, and God’s acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice in the resurrection.
When the Hebrew writer used the word heart in Psalm 119:2, he implied something much deeper than a bodily organ. When he said, “who seeks Him with their whole heart,” he did not refer to the aortic pump inside the human chest. The heart in Hebrew refers to the inner life, the totality of one’s being. This truth encompasses the mind, the emotions and the will of man.
Each day, the believer faces many temptations. However, at the core, all temptation is the same: Will you remember God or forget Him? The inner life of the believer must be renewed with the gospel, daily and repeatedly. When the gospel renews the believer, the believer will live a life of repentance.
In Psalm 119:4-8, the Psalmist explained the only proper response to God’s truth. This response starts with the realization of one’s lack of faithfulness to God and to His ways. The response continues with the desire to be pure, steadfast and faithful. The Psalmist said, “Oh, that my ways were steadfast…” (Ps. 119:5).
The truth is that believers create unhappiness by leaning on their own understanding instead of trusting in the Lord. They create unhappiness with their desire for self-actualization. This desire leads them to forget God and neglect His gospel. However, they create happiness by embracing the gospel, living in repentance and loving others.
Every believer is faced with a decision every day; this is the “two ways” of living in the Hebrew worldview. On one hand, the believer can be self-directed and self-involved and desire self-actualization. On the other hand, the believer can be gospel-informed, others-involved and desire God-centeredness. The one idea that can drastically increase your happiness is to live a life of repentance.
Dr. Kevin Jackson became the senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church in2009. He and his wife, Mary Ann, have two daughters, Perrin and Mary Pinson, and one son, Seth.