Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
blessed is the one who trusts in you.
British philosopher Jeremy Bentham designed the “felicific calculus”, or happiness calculus, to be an algorithm for calculating the happiness that an action might produce. Unhappily, it didn’t work very well, and went the way of the perpetual motion machine and pet rock. No human has the ability to calculate what action will produce genuine and lasting happiness.
But the Sons of Korah, writing under the Spirit’s inspiration, can point the way to a truly happy and blessed life: “LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” They have found the pearl of great price, the one thing in life worth giving up everything else: trusting in God alone.
Halfway through today’s text, the word “for” introduces the reason why the Sons of Korah have put their trust in God: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield.” The psalmists often employ the sun as a symbol for the life and joy that God shines on us everyday. The psalmists also experience God as their “shield”, protecting those who keep close to Him.
Taking God as their sun and shield means that, “no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless”. Whoa! I read those words and think: “But I am far from blameless!” However, the Hebrew word tam translated “blameless”, does not mean to be without sin, or to be perfect. Rather, tam means “integrity”. It is the word used to describe Noah (Genesis 6:9), and Noah was certainly not without sin (Genesis 9:21). Tam is also the word used of Job (Job 1:8), and Job admitted that he had sinned (Job 7:20-21; 42:6). We can rejoice that “no good thing” does God withhold from those who seek to walk with Him in integrity and honesty.
Here is real happiness, Jeremy Bentham. The psalmists tell us where happiness is found: “LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.”
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