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Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O LORD, in the light of your countenance.
– Psalm 89:15

Happy

The word ‘happy’ means more than ‘happy’. Some translations will use ‘blessed’ but that’s not quite right either – and there’s a different Hebrew word for ‘blessed’. This word refers to that quiet joy and contentment when things are good and you are at peace with God, yourself and the world. (You can see this, for example, by the context in which the word is used in Isaiah 32:17-20.)

True happiness, suggest the poet, is not found in the things our culture pursues, but in living in the light of God’s shining face.

You can tell the difference between children whose parents smile on them and those whose parents do not. The one walks with a lighter step, is willing to try new things, meet new people, and do kindness and mercy. They spread goodness. Their own face shines on others. The other walks with downcast eyes and heart. There are Christians who seem to have forgotten – or maybe have never truly known – that God looks upon us with love, that God’s face shines on us. They do not know the joy. They do not remember goodness. They forget that the grave is empty. They do not know the festal shout.

This is unrelated to being wounded or burdened by life, for there are many wounded who nevertheless understand that though time and chance may not smile on us, God does. And they walk with a joy we would not otherwise expect.

Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O LORD, in the light of your shining face.

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