The psalms begin with the word אַשְׁרֵי/ashrei/happy. In Psalm 1:1, “Happy is the one who has not walked in the advice of the wicked.” The happy one has not fallen for the distractions of the wicked, but stands grounded in holiness in the congregation of the Lord without guilt or shame, because of His graceful forgiveness (Ps. 32:1, which also begins: אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם/Happy is the man.).

In psalm 84:5 we read:

‎אַשְׁרֵי, יוֹשְׁבֵי בֵיתֶךָ–עוֹד, יְהַלְלוּךָ סֶּלָה

“Happy are they who dwell in Your house – they are ever praising you. Selah.”

The psalms, in which we find the broad scope of human emotion and experience, open with a simple word, happy. Why?

‎אַשְׁרֵי/ashrei/happy denotes something much deeper than is expressed in English. It is a condition of spiritual and physical health and well-being, the feeling of relief from a load being lifted, of finding what you have been looking for, it is that feeling of rest on Shabbat. אַשְׁרֵי/ashrei/happy teaches the body and soul the meaning of rest in the midst of the hectic week.

We are happy before the Lord because we have been accepted, welcomed in, and not shut out. We do not assemble in shame, but in peace. As Paul writes, “Whoever trusts in Him will not be put to shame” (Ro. 10:11). Who is the Him? Messiah, Romans 10:9-10.

The psalms open with happy for a simple reason: with all of the hills and valleys, joy and pain in life, we know that we will dwell in His house forever (Ps. 23:6); and that is a great relief. Happy.

Meditate on: Psalm 145; Matthew 11:28-30.

Be well. Shalom.

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