Commentary

Happiness

By Rev. Julian Duckworth and New Christian Bible Study Staff

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Does God want us to be happy? What does the Bible say about happiness?

“Happiness” may seem like a passing thing, and hardly the ultimate goal in most belief systems. In fact, though, it is the Lord’s greatest goal for us: He wants us to be happy. If we allow it, He will lead and guide us to be as happy as we are able to be.

The whole reason the Lord created us was so that he could love us, and what else but happiness do you wish for someone you love? But the happiness the Lord wants for us is not the passing joy of satisfying our bodily desires but the exquisite eternal joy of conjunction with the Lord and true love of the neighbor, things harder to see and harder to attain but ultimately far more delightful.

Swedenborg distinguishes heaven’s happiness from worldly happiness of satisfying our bodily desires. In heaven, all happiness is felt from loving the Lord and being of use, living for the sake of others. Everything the Lord does is part of his attempt to lead us to that state, and in everything that happens to us - even the things that are the most tragic on the natural level - he provides opportunities for us to move toward that state.

The Lord also, however, leaves us in freedom. We can reject his efforts and turn away if we choose to, and while that choice may seem to us to lead toward happiness, it is a passing, natural happiness that is ultimately only a shadow of the joy he desires for us. However, those in hell are "happy" being there because the life there matches their self-centered love they chose to cultivate while on earth. If those in hell could be lifted up to heaven, they would feel tormented.

From Psalm 65:9-13:

Thou visitest the earth, and blessest it; thou makest it very plenteous.
The river of God is full of water: thou preparest their corn, for so thou providest for the earth.
Thou waterest her furrows; thou sendest rain into the little valleys thereof; thou makest it soft with the drops of rain, and blessest the increase of it.
Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy clouds drop fatness.
They shall drop upon the dwellings of the wilderness; and the little hills shall rejoice on every side.
The folds shall be full of sheep; the valleys also shall stand so thick with corn, that they shall laugh and sing.

From John 15:11:
I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1153 [2]; Divine Providence 37)

The Bible

Psalms 65:9-13

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

← Psalms 64   Full Chapter   Psalms 66 →

9 Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.

10 Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof.

11 Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.

12 They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side.

13 The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.

← Psalms 64   Full Chapter   Psalms 66 →

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 315


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 2702, 2708, 3580, 5943

Apocalypse Revealed 496, 546

The Last Judgment (Continuation) 13


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 644, 730

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Spiritual Topics:


Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Leviticus 26:4

Deuteronomy 11:12

Job 5:10, 36:31, 37:13

Psalms 68:10, 98:8, 104:13

Isaiah 41:5, 44:23, 49:13, 55:12

Daniel 4:2

Joel 2:22

Malachi 1:11

Acts of the Apostles 14:17

Hebrews 6:7

Word/Phrase Explanations

earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

water
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

the river
The river Gihon, as in Genesis 2:13, signifies the knowledge of all things relating to goodness and truth.

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

Full
'To satiate' relates to the extent of a person's will, for good or evil.

Corn
Corn,' as in Genesis 42:2, here stands for a word in the original language which means 'breaking,' and also for a similar word meaning to...

paths
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

upon
Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

wilderness
'The wilderness of Sin,' as in Exodus 16, signifies the good from truth in a state of temptation.

hills
The Writings tell us that the Lord's love is the sun of heaven, and it is natural for us to look above ourselves to the...

rejoice
Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

Side
'Side' signifies good or spiritual love.

pastures
Plants in the Bible generally represent facts, knowledge that can be gleaned from the world. Plants that can serve animals as food represent facts that...

valleys
Mountains in the Bible represent people's highest points, where we are closest to the Lord - our love of the Lord and the state of...

over
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

Shout
'To shout from the top of the mountain,' as in Isaiah 42:11, signifies worship from the good of love.

Resources for parents and teachers

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 A Time to Remember
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

The Bible

Acts of the Apostles 14:17

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

← Acts of the Apostles 14:16    Full Chapter    Acts of the Apostles 14:18 →

17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

   Study the Inner Meaning
Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Job 22:18, 36:31

Psalms 65:11, 147:8

Jeremiah 5:24

Word/Phrase Explanations

witness
In court, a witness is someone who saw a crime being committed, or observed something that could help determine the guilt or innocence of the...

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

filling
There are two ways something can be filled: It can be filled with something bad against the wishes of its owner, or it can be...

hearts
The heart means love. A good heart means love to the Lord and to the neighbor while a hard or stony heart means the love...

food
Just as natural food feeds the natural body, so spiritual food feeds the spiritual body. And since our spiritual body is the expression of what...

gladness
Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...


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