By Brooke Holt
“Happy are the people who know the festal shout! They walk, O Lord, in the light of your presence. They rejoice daily in your name; they are jubilant in your righteousness. For you are the glory of their strength, and by your favor our might is exalted. Truly, the Lord is our ruler; the Holy One of Israel is our King.” Psalm 89:15-18 (NRSV)
Everyone seeks to find happiness in this life, and they search in many ways – some good and many not so good. Maybe you remember the song, “If You Want to Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life” by Jimmy Soul? A humorous song, with a catchy, tune about a man seeking happiness, it offers unusual advice to say the least. To be happy, a man should not marry a pretty woman but an ugly one. According to the song, a pretty women outshines her man and breaks her husband's heart. In this case, security serves as the means to happiness.
The writer of Psalm 89 also offers advice on how to be truly happy, and it is not found in a wife! Instead, the psalmist writes that those who experience happiness are those who know the festal shout, walk in the Lord’s presence, and delight themselves in the Lord (see v. 15-16). The festal shout, much more than a catchy tune, was the sound of God’s people united in worship. Horns blew as people exclaimed how worthy the Lord is to be enjoyed and exalted.
The entirety of Psalm 89 exemplifies such praise. The writer speaks of the steadfast love of the Lord for his people – the glory of his creation, his faithfulness to keep every covenant, and how he works on behalf of his people. For fifty-two verses, the psalmist sings the Lord’s praise.
What a glorious celebration! When God’s people come together and recall who God is and what he has done for them, it leads to such jubilation. Hearts, spirits, and voices are lifted to the King, and the Lord is present with his people throughout the worship. True worship rightly exalts the Lord and blesses the participants.
Are you seeking happiness? This psalm may offer a roadmap to find it. Long-term happiness cannot be sustained by an ugly wife or husband (or a good-looking one either). True happiness comes when your heart aligns with the heart of God. Worship provides the means to such alignment as you look beyond yourself and your circumstances to the one who sits on the throne of heaven.
Today, will you join the psalmist in the festal shout? Will you lift your heart in adoration and express your deep desire to know him, to feel his presence, and to walk in his ways? This kind of worship will lift your spirit from the temporal to the eternal so that the Lord is lifted high. In this act of elevating God, your heart and soul will also be elevated so that you can be happy today and in eternity.
Where is your heart towards worship today? Is it a duty or a delight? Have you made attending church a weekly priority? The Lord invites you into worship today! We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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