By New Christian Bible Study Staff and Rev. Julian Duckworth

A girl holds a piece of watermelon with a nice bite take out of the edge of it.

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 that are 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.

In Arcana Coelestia 6392, there's this: "...performing good deeds without thought of recompense is that in which heavenly happiness consists." A couple of sentences later, there's another key statement -- i.e. that this real love of the neighbor has to be rooted in a "new will" in us, a will that can only be implanted by the Lord when we make room for it, and seek it.

In the American Declaration of Independence, the "pursuit of happiness" is one of the 3 enumerated inalienable rights that our Creator endows us with. Certainly, the Lord wants our happiness, and wants us to pursue it. In a way, though, if we pursue it directly, externally, we will probably not get it. If we pursue happiness for others, we will be making our minds open and ready for that new will.

The Lord also 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)

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From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #1153

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1153. That 'the sons of Gomer' also means those who possessed external worship, but an external worship derived from that which existed with the nation Gomer, follows from what has been stated and shown several times already about the meaning of 'sons', as well as from the fact that Gomer is one of those nations which possessed external worship corresponding to internal. Seven nations which possessed such worship are mentioned by name in the previous verse, and seven again, called 'the sons of Gomer and of Javan', in this. The specific differences however between one nation and another cannot be stated, as only their names are given here. In the Prophets however when the subject is specifically this or that type of Church-worship the differences can be established. In general all variations of external worship, as also of internal, arise according to the adoration of the Lord in the worship, and the adoration is according to the love to the Lord and love towards the neighbour that exist there. For it is within love that the Lord is present, and thus within worship. The differences of worship therefore existing among the nations mentioned here depend on the nature of His presence within.

[2] To make it easier to talk about how types of worship differ and how they did so in the Ancient Church among various nations, let it be realized that all true worship consists in adoration of the Lord. Adoration of the Lord consists in being humble; and being humble consists in the self-acknowledgement that with oneself there is nothing living and nothing good, but that with oneself everything is dead, indeed corpse-like. Being humble also consists in the acknowledgement that everything living and everything good come from the Lord. The more a person acknowledges these things not just with the lips but in his heart, the more humility he has; and consequently the more adoration - which is true worship - and the more love and charity, and the more happiness. The first contains the second, and they are so linked together as to be inseparable. This shows what these differences of worship are and the nature of them.

[3] Those who are mentioned here and are called 'the sons of Gomer and of Javan' are people who likewise possessed external worship corresponding to internal, but it was somewhat more remote than that of the people mentioned in the previous verse. This also is why they are called 'sons'. Generations descending one after another, or derivatives, here progress from what is interior towards things that are exterior. The more someone relies on the senses, the more exterior he becomes, and consequently becomes further removed from true worship of the Lord. For when it is more concerned with the world, the body, and the earth, and less with the spirit, it consequently becomes more remote. Because these people called the sons of Gomer and of Javan relied more on the senses, they focused worship even more on external things than those referred to as their parents and cousins had done. Consequently they form a second group here.

(References: Genesis 10:3)

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Table of Contents
6. Genesis 1 6 67. Since the Lord's Divine mercy has allowed me to know the internal sense of the Word, and since that sense contains very deep arcana which have never entered the knowledge of anyone before now, and never can unless people know the way things exist in the next life - for most of what is in the 67 190. Genesis 3:1-13 190 324. Genesis 4 324 460. Genesis 5 460 554. Genesis 6:1-8 554 701. Genesis 7 701 832. Genesis 8 832 971. Genesis 9 971 1130. Genesis 10 1130 1279. Genesis 11 1279 1401. Genesis 12 1401 1535. Genesis 13 1535 1651. Genesis 14 1651 1778. Genesis 15 1778 1886. PREFACE 1886 1985. Genesis 17 1985 2136. Genesis 18 2136 2312. Genesis 19 2312 2496. Genesis 20 2496 2610. Genesis 21 2610 2764. Genesis 22 2764 2901. Genesis 23 2901 3012. Genesis 24 3012 3230. Genesis 25 3230 3357. Genesis 26 3357 3490. Genesis 27 3490 3656. Genesis 28 3656 3758. Genesis 29 3758 3902. Genesis 30 3902 4061. Genesis 31 4061 4232. Genesis 32 4232 4336. Genesis 33 4336 4425. Genesis 34 4425 4536. Genesis 35 4536 4639. Genesis 36 4639 4665. Genesis 37 4665 4811. Genesis 38 4811 4960. Genesis 39 4960 5072. Genesis 40 5072 5191. Genesis 41 5191 5397. Genesis 42 5397 5574. Genesis 43 5574 5728. Genesis 44 5728 5867. Genesis 45 5867 5994. Genesis 46 5994 6059. Genesis 47 6059 6216. Genesis 48 6216 6328. Genesis 49 6328 6497. Genesis 50 6497 6634. Exodus 1 6634 6713. Exodus 2 6713 6825. Exodus 3 6825 6939. Exodus 4 6939 7087. Exodus 5 7087 7183. Exodus 6 7183 7264. Exodus 7 7264 7378. Exodus 8 7378 7495. Exodus 9 7495 7628. Exodus 10 7628 7763. Exodus 11 7763 7822. Exodus 12 7822 8038. Exodus 13 8038 8125. Exodus 14 8125 8258. Exodus 15 8258 8395. Exodus 16 8395 8554. Exodus 17 8554 8641. Exodus 18 8641 8748. Exodus 19 8748 8859. Exodus 20 8859 8970. Exodus 21 8970 9123. Exodus 22 9123 9246. Exodus 23 9246 9370. Exodus 24 9370 9455. Exodus 25 9455 9592. Exodus 26 9592 9710. Exodus 27 9710 9804. Exodus 28 9804 9985. Exodus 29 9985 10176. [10175(a)] Exodus 30 10176 10326. Exodus 31 10326 10393. Exodus 32 10393 10523. Exodus 33 10523 10598. Exodus 34 10598 10725. Exodus 35 10725 10750. Exodus 36 10750 10767. Exodus 37 10767 10782. Exodus 38 10782 10807. Exodus 39 10807 10832. Exodus 40 10832
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 1799, 1999, 2686, 2967, 3324

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 129

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 70

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Related New Christian Commentary

Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.