Summary: David, just as Jesus did, shares the key to living a happy life.

Do you remember the “minions?” They are the adorable yellow little helpers for Gru in the films Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2. They’ve shown up in advertising, television programs and music since those two movies, and now, on July 10th, is the debut of their own movie entitled simply, Minions. I mention the minions because one of the more popular connections with them is The Happy Song by Pharrel Williams. It’s an incredibly uplifting number that was the theme song for Despicable Me 2. Here are the words to the first verse and the chorus:

It might seem crazy what I'm about to say

Sunshine she's here, you can take away

I'm a hot air balloon, I could go to space

With the air, like I don't care baby by the way

Because I'm happy

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

Because I'm happy

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

Because I'm happy

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you

Because I'm happy

Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do

It’s an incredibly happy, fun song that seeks to communicate the attitude we all should have as we go through life—no matter what happens, we should be happy. If we have a “happy” attitude, everything will look bright and sunny and better than it really is. While attitude may be 90% of life’s battle, a happy attitude will not always color the circumstances of life because as we define happiness, it is too dependent upon what happens to us.

In contrast, as we survey Psalm 1, we find what I like to call “The Original Happy Song.” The First Psalm opens up with the phrase translated “blessed is the man.” The Hebrew word is esher, and is often translated as an interjection that says, “Happy is the man!” My translation says, “Oh the joys of those…!” This is a holy moment, preserved in the eternal counsels of God. David seems to be overwhelmed with joy as he shouts this great truth in song. We need to be aware, too, that as David sings, this is the opening song of the Hebrew hymnbook. He’s writing a sacred song to a sacred people. The tune would not be on the top ten iTunes playlist. This is a song for those who desire to know God. What David says, in essence, is that if you want to discover happiness, live this way. Live this way, not that way, and you will find happiness. It’s the first instruction given to the faith community in their life of worship.

It’s interesting that Jesus started in the same place David started. You remember how Jesus began his ministry? He gathered his disciples on a hillside in Galilee, sat them down, and in the Beatitudes, gave them the keys to a happy life: “Blessed (happy) are the meek, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” Live this way, and you’ll find happiness. Jesus and David on the same page. That’s probably not an accident. It’s probably not an accident, either, that like David does in this first psalm, Jesus talked about trees, well, more specifically, vines and branches, and he also talked about a path, as does David here. In the same message in which Jesus preached about happiness, he closes that message with this admonition: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7: 13 – 14 NIV). Compare that to David’s, “For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction” (verse 6).

Both David and Jesus tell us there’s a way for people of faith to live their lives to discover the fullness of God’s life. It includes both positive and negative behavior. Don’t do that. Do this. There’s a right way to live, and a wrong way to live. No matter how much we don’t like to talk about it, not every road leads to the same place.

Too often we look in the wrong places for happiness. We expect a fairy tale ending because advertisers (and even a few Christians) have told us we deserve it. Read Cinderella, or Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty. The last phrase is always, “and they lived happily ever after.” We long for “happily ever after.” Our search for the fairy tale life sometimes causes us to seek happiness from sources other than God. In fact, sometimes our search actually leads us away from God. We replace the Lord with another person, possession, pleasure or ideology. And, it happens so subtly, too! It begins because we seek happiness as the end itself, and when we do that, we never find it. Our grandchildren like to play with bubbles. Vanessa has a huge gallon jug of bubbles she keeps on the back porch. When the grandchildren come and decide to play bubbles, they get out that gallon jug and their requisite tools, and they blow and wave to their utter excitement. Then they’ll chase the bubbles, and as soon as they touch them, poof!, they’re gone. That’s what it’s like to chase happiness for happiness sake.

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