I have learned to love the Hebrew language. I am not very adept at speaking it but it is my goal and I plan on accomplishing it. Because of my love for Hebrew I have developed a desire to read the Old Testament in the Hebrew language. I am also almost obsessive in my attempts to find out where the English words come from and how the concepts of our words in English relate to the concepts of the words in Hebrew.
For years one of my favorite chapters in the Bible has been Psalm 1. Seventeen years ago I preached a SS lesson all over the USA while I was on deputation to go to Romania. It was titled, “God’s receipe for prosperity.” I have since been working with Reformers Unanimous International and have developed an even stronger love for Psalm 1 because it is a key chapter in the recovery program.
Recently I began to look indepth at the words in Psalm 1 and I got as far as the first word, “Blessed” in English. The word “Blessed” in Psalm 1 comes from the Hebrew word, ashrei, which is a conjuction meaning, OH HOW HAPPY! Ashrei is from the root word, asher, which was first used in the Bible in Genesis 30:13 where Leah was saying that the young women will call her happy, or blessed, and therefore she named her son, Asher, from the word Ashar.
The Hebrew word, ashar is what is sometimes known as a primitive root. Without going into the Hebrew nuances let me just mention that it is used in 16 places in the Old Testament and is translated, blessed, 7 times; guide, once; happy, twice; lead, once; leaders, once; led, once; and relieve one time. According to one Hebrew dictionary the basic meaning of this word is to walk straight on a level way, signifying to go to be happy and blessed. In other words, our blessedness or happiness lies at the end of our level way.
My next question came regarding the word in English, what does blessed mean? It means more than happy. It means to be endowed with extras. For instance, to be blessed by God is not just to be happy, it is to be equipped by God. When God blessed someone He equipped them for the task at hand. He makes their paths straight, he makes their way right. As the man in Psalm 1:1 walks through life, obeying the wisdom of verses 1, 2 and 3, his way will be straight, it will be level, it will end up in prosperity.
Being blessed could be compared to the difference in cars. When I was a teen I had a car that had one purpose, to get me to where I was going. It was not a luxury car and could never have been accused of being one. As I got older I learned that there was more to life than just arriving at the destination, there was the issue of how you arrived at the destination, and I began to look for a vehicle that was better endowed, better equipped, more blessed, so to speak. It is the same way with life. God wants us to be prosperous, on his terms, and Jesus came to give us a life that is more abundant. This does not mean there are no holes in our road, but anyone who has ever driven a rattle trap of a car knows that you feel every bump and every hole in the road. If you drive down the same rough road in a Mercedes S Class limosine you will not feel the road so much because the car is taking the beating for you… such as it is with being blessed. Your life is still going to have holes and ruts and bumps, but being blessed by God equips you to drive more smoothly over them. You will still arrive at your destination, but you will have enjoyed it much more.
Blessed is the man… equipped is the man… many options are built into the life of the one blessed by God. Webster’s English dictionary lists “divinely or supremely favored.” That is a fancy way of saying you have more opportunities than someone who is not so blessed.
The person that wants happiness will never find it. You do not find happiness, it is the byproduct of being blessed by God. As you obey the Word of God you will begin to reap the rewards of the promises that go with the Word of God. God wants you to be well equipped, because he knows that the better equipped you are the better your drive is going to be. God loves you and wants you to prosper. He wants you to do it on his terms, but nevertheless, he wants you to prosper. God invests in those that obey him, and the best investment he can give to you is to bless (equip/favor/endow) you.
I’d rather be blessed than anything. To have the stamp of God’s approval on me is the only thing that really matters. If they day comes when I will be lowered into the ground, above me I want a stone that says, “He was blessed.” Can there be any greater testimony of obedience to the command of Scripture? He was blessed….