By Rev. Julian Duckworth and New Christian Bible Study Staff

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.

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

Ukuze uqhubeke upheqe ngesikhathi ubuka, dlala ividiyo efasiteleni elisha.

This video is a product of the Swedenborg Foundation. Follow these links for further information and other videos: and

Okususelwe Emisebenzini kaSwedenborg


Arcana Coelestia #1153

Study this Passage

Yiya esigabeni / 10837  

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.

(Izinkomba: Genesis 10:3)

Yiya esigabeni / 10837  
   Study this Passage
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

   Amathuluzi okucwaninga ka Swedenborg

Related New Christian Commentary

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