We are close to the time when Chinese all over the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year which falls on 8th February. Needless to say, we are constantly being reminded of its coming by the advertisements, decorations, media and piped music in the shopping malls all over Singapore. However, when one stops to reflect on the meaning of Chinese New Year, one seems to get the impression that it is mainly about prosperity and happiness in life. For example, the songs about the CNY are mainly about wishing one another prosperity and happiness. The question is, what is this prosperity and happiness all about? How can one become prosperous and happy?
Many years ago, God has already given us the message about true prosperity and happiness and how we can become prosperous and successful. This message is found in Psalm One. In fact this Psalm begins with a congratulatory formula of well-wishing. This well-wishing is not so much a wish or a promise but rather a joyous exclamation and an enthusiastic observation: “Oh, how fortunate is the man!”
Here the solid foundation of the righteous is introduced (Ps. 1:1-3). Their state of happiness is not something given automatically by God, but is a direct result of their activity. A person can be happy, from a negative perspective by avoiding the advice, the life style and the assembly of wicked persons. The righteous person avoids all the dimensions of the way of the wicked. Here lies the source of true blessedness or happiness.
But the person who is to be happy must also engage in a positive task which is identified in verse 2 as being related to the law of the Lord. The word law (Torah in Hebrew) is the word for instruction. It is instruction specifically given by God to mankind as a guide for life. This law is to be a source of delight which is discovered by means of constant meditation on its meaning. The word for meditate implies more than just a mental exercise of ‘meditating.’ It has more to do with the sound produced by one who is reading the law of God. It indicates some kind of utterance such as murmuring or whispering.
Finally the happy estate of the righteous is illuminated in verse 3 by the simile of the tree. The simile not only illustrates vividly the prosperity of the righteous, but also makes a theological point. The state of blessedness is not a reward; rather it is the result of a particular type of life. Just as a tree with a constant water supply naturally flourishes, so too the person who avoids evil and delights in Torah naturally prospers, for such a person is living within the guidelines set down by the Creator. Thus the prosperity of the righteous reflects the wisdom of a life lived according to the plan of the Giver of all life.
I pray that in this festive season, we as God’s people will find our true prosperity and happiness in the Word of God and in the practical application of the Word to our lives.
Rev. Mark Tay