Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
Are you happy? Are you as happy as you could be? When God and Solomon mention happiness, you should listen. Here is a rule for life from the wisest king about happiness. Those who have tried both sides of this proverb know it is perfectly true. Be happy today.
All men want to be happy and avoid trouble, and here is how. You need a relationship with your Creator. Without Him, you are a lost speck in the universe. If you always fear God, you will be happy. But if you rebel against Him, your life will be full of trouble. Allow the Almighty God to bless you with grace and strength to fear Him starting today.
Is it the fear of God here? Yes, for that is the theme of Proverbs (Pr 1:7); it is the whole duty of man (Ec 12:13); no other fear brings happiness (Pr 29:25); it is the opposite of hardening your heart (Is 63:17); mischief results from not having it (Ps 36:1-2); and it properly follows the confession of sins to God necessary for prosperity (Pr 28:13).
How often or for how long should you fear God? You should always fear Him, even when you are not happy. The LORD may withdraw temporarily from a God-fearing man, like Job, thus reducing his happiness; but He will return with additional blessings in the end, like Job as well. Your happiness and success depend on always fearing God.
What is the fear of God? It is to love God. Everything you do should be for His glory (I Cor 10:31). You should guard your life carefully, lest you break His commandments and displease Him. You should circumspectly examine every thought, word, deed, and plan. You should ask, Is this choice agreeable to Him? Will this activity bring Him pleasure?
Can happiness and fear coexist? Yes, for fearing God is a reverent desire to please Him by keeping His commandments and hating sin. There is no pain or torment in this fear. This is fear that hopes in God’s mercy (Ps 147:11) and rejoices with trembling (Ps 2:11). This is fear compatible with coming boldly to His throne of grace for help (Heb 4:12-16).
Fear that caused Adam to hide among Eden’s trees was the ungodly fear of guilt and rebellion. The fear of a child of God is like a child’s fear of a loving father. It is a strong desire to please and a powerful check on disobedience, but it also includes affection, trust, and security (Pr 16:20). Knowing God correctly casts out painful fear (I John 4:18).
Your fear of God should cause you to mistrust yourself, for self-confidence leads to sin and mischief (I Cor 10:12). Wise men do not trust themselves, but learn to despise their hearts as their most dangerous enemy (Jer 17:9). Peter’s confidence in his own strength and courage before denying Jesus Christ should humble you to beg for help and strength.
Since God’s commandments are life and prosperity themselves (Pr 3:1-2) and keeping them brings His favor and blessing (Ps 147:11), these two factors produce human happiness. Keeping the rules for success and having God prosper your life is a wonderful combination. Rejecting His commandments is to choose folly and death and bring His judgment. Do not deceive yourself – for you will certainly reap what you sow (Gal 6:7).
If you want to love life and enjoy many good days, then fear the Lord and depart from evil (Ps 34:12-16; I Pet 3:10-12). Men pay large fees for counsel and therapy to be happy, yet here is the perfect explanation from your Creator. And it was written by the man who experimented with every purpose and pleasure known to man. His conclusion here is the same as he concluded at the end of his philosophical and practical research (Eccl 12:13).
Read Psalm 112:1-10 or Psalm 128:1-6. See if there is prosperity in fearing God. What more could you want? Of course, Hollywood will try to sell you its version of happiness, but wise persons see past the bright lights, emotional soundtracks, and lying content to the divorces, drugs, drunkenness, disease, and dysfunction that haunt its so-called stars.
If you stubbornly refuse God’s way, you will bring on yourself His severe judgment (Pr 29:1; 1:24-32; 6:12-15; 28:18). The way of transgressors is hard (Pr 13:15; 4:19; 19:16; 22:5). Lot and Saul compromised God’s commands, and they both lived miserable lives that ended in horrible disgrace, quite unimaginable a few years earlier. What a contrast between Abraham and Lot! What a contrast between Saul and David! What a waste!
Fearing God is not a light matter. It is life or death. It is happiness or trouble. It involves eternity. Only fools treat God’s things lightly, and they will reap the reward of their folly. Only fools take confidence in outward religious rituals, for God will destroy the hypocrite (Job 20:4-9). Wise men will pass the time of their sojourning here in fear (I Pet 1:17).
Where have you hardened your heart against God? What does He require that you do not want to give? Do you stubbornly resist the teaching of His pastors? Have you examined yourself today? Is your entire life grounded in the fear of the Lord? Where are you compromising His public worship? Where are you compromising your private life? Have you confessed and rejected your secret sins? Do you search to see if they are all gone?
If you presume to think you can get away with rebellion, if you think you can have peace in disobedience, He will furiously bring curses on your shameful life and blot out your name (Deut 29:18-20). Be sure your sin will find you out. Kiss the Son! This is not the happiness or disappointment you may encounter on a trip – this is life and eternity.
Jesus Christ feared God His Father always and did those things that pleased Him (Heb 5:7), and He is forever seated on His throne in heaven enjoying fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore (Ps 16:11). You may be there soon as well, if you diligently work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12-13; II Pet 1:10-11).