Happy Are Those Delight in the Lord
When we are young, it is in our nature to question everything. We chafe under the perceived limits, “chains” and demands of authority and we test the boundaries of every rule. With youthful arrogance we think that we know better than our elders what is best for us. We do not want to be limited by anyone, in any way. We want the freedom to do what we want to do, when we want to do it—without consequences, of course. Then life starts giving us lessons, whether we want them or not.
Eventually, we start to wake up to the reality that limitless freedom without responsibility is an illusion. We start to see the wisdom of limiting ourselves, of delayed gratification, and even self-sacrifice. Indeed, we begin to recognize how unhappy we were as undisciplined, self-centered youths, and how much more contented we are when we act responsibly, in accord with our formed consciences, rather than out of pure license. We begin to see that self-control, willing submission to reasonable and just limits, and selflessness (behaviors consistent with the law of the Lord), are the real sources of happiness in our lives.
“Blessed the man who follows not
The counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
Nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the Lord
And meditates on it day and night.”
David is speaking here of the “delight” that comes from following those laws that the Lord writes on the heart of every human being in the world at the moment of their conception. As we learn these laws, and form our consciences in them; as we begin to follow them, and meditate on them every day, we begin to experience the happiness that our hearts so deeply and naturally desire. Why? Because, when we act in accord with God’s law, we are acting in agreement with God, who is the source and goal of all beatitude. As parents, we must teach our children the laws of the Lord. We do this by not just speaking about them, but by publicly living in accord with them, so that our children can see our joy in them. We must teach them the wisdom of the laws of the Lord, by teaching them how to pray, how to ask for forgiveness and to give it, how to respond to those who are suffering when we see them. What happens to us when we follow (and teach) the law of the Lord?
“He is like a tree
Planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
And whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does prospers.”
When we were young, and testing all the borders, nine times out of ten, we got results we did not expect, results that were painful to ourselves: punishments, chastisements, or worse. And even though we were unhappy, we still refused to see ourselves as the problem, it was always somebody elses fault that we were so unhappy. Too many human beings never grow out of this stage. Because they are so self-centered, they cause great harm to others and to themselves. Growing up is hard to do. But it is necessary to find the happiness we are all seeking. God’s laws help us grow up. And when we finally see the wisdom in them and make them the driving habits of our lives, that’s when we discover the real delights are hearts are made for.
“Not so the wicked, not so;
They are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the Lord watches over the way of the just
But the way of the wicked vanishes.”
We do not want to “vanish” as a result of foolishness, or a false sense of freedom. We want to live! We want to live in the the true freedom that comes from obedience to the laws of the Lord. For it is the love of the Lord that is the source of all that is good in the world. The reward for this is delight! Thanks be to God.