Often when we hear about the Beatitudes we think of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5. There Jesus gives us the steps to heavenly glory, each of which begins with the word:
But beatitudes are also found in the book of Psalms, and they begin with the same word, "Blessed". These Beatitudes show us that many of Jesus' teachings had their foundation in the Psalms. Jesus used the Psalms more than any other Old Testament source during His ministry. More than 100 scriptures in the New Testament are quoted from the Psalms.ding: Heading 3---]
Some Bible translations of beatitudes use the word "happy" instead of "blessed"; however, the meaning of the two words is not the same. Happiness is pleasure based on external things that happen to us. The Biblical use of blessedness goes much deeper, signifying an inner sense of joy and peace resulting from doing God's will. It's not through a single experience, but through a series of life's experiences that gradually draw us nearer to the goal of being like Christ.
Happiness is based on outward prosperity and therefore is temporary. Blessedness is inward and lasting; even adversity can't take it away.
The Beatitudes in the book of Matthew are not a random listing of principles. They are given in a specific order for a purpose. Think of the Beatitudes as a stairway—each one building on the one before it, setting out a progression of requirements for followers of Christ.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
All progress in the "Narrow Way" begins with humility, a sense of our nothingness. We come to God realizing our unworthiness and seek His forgiveness through Jesus' merit, or sacrifice on our behalf.
As the Beatitudes are progressive, so are the promises connected with them. Humility of spirit is the first requirement for those who wish to enter God's kingdom of heaven.
Requirement # 1: Humility of spirit
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
The mourners here are those who are mourning about their own imperfections and for others who are in sorrow and pain. They will be comforted by having their sins covered by Christ's merit and by knowing God has a plan that will soon wipe away tears from all faces in His kingdom.
Requirement # 2: Recognition of sin
Blessed are the meek (the teachable),
for they shall inherit the earth.
The next requirement for the Christian is to be teachable, eager to know the will of God and how He would have us develop. Those who commit to wanting to be more like Christ are learning to help others in God's Kingdom. In order to learn to handle this great responsibility, they must first be willing to be taught and obey all the principles of Christ. Those faithful will reign with Christ in blessing all mankind, thereby inheriting the earth.
Requirement # 3: Teachable
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst
after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
The concept of hungering and thirsting implies a life of intense striving to develop in themselves a righteous character like that of Jesus; His promise is that those who thus strive will be "filled."
Requirement #4: Striving for character development
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
As we show mercy to others, God will in proportion extend mercy to us! James 2:13 (NASB) tells us: For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
A Christian writer, Charles Russell, wrote about mercy, "Never think of anyone except with an unprejudiced mind, seeking to give others the benefit of the doubt, if there is any doubt whatever. Additionally, heed the Lord's council that we should exercise great mercy, and that He would rather have us err in the sense of being too lenient than have us be merely just. It is better to be deceived a hundred times than to go through life soured by a suspicious mind."
Requirement #5: Merciful
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
Purity of heart has to do with our motives. It is possible to appear loving, righteous and humble, but if we do it with the motive of being seen and admired by others or to appear better than others, our behavior is of no value in the eyes of God.
Requirement #6: Pure Motives
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.
We are being trained for the ultimate role as peacemakers. A mediator is a peacemaker whose role is to bring harmony between God and man.
Just as someone wanting to be a teacher must go through a time of student-teaching, a mediator-to-be must go through a time of practicing peacemaking. Our present lifetime is our training period to be mediators; ample experiences to practice are provided throughout our lives. We will have differences with our families, churches, brethren, neighbors and co-workers. Our goal is to promote peace and be tactful, kind and loving in how we try to correct what we perceive to be wrongs.
Requirement #7: Practice meditating
The next two Beatitudes are different from the others. The first seven are things we must do! The last two are about how we react to things that are done to us!
MATTHEW 5:10, 11, 12
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness'
sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and
persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of
evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and
be glad, for your reward in heaven is great;
for in the same way they persecuted the
prophets who were before you.
This is God's way of telling us that we should actually consider these persecutions as blessings from Him. Notice that the persecutions here are because of "Me". That is, they are part of the experiences as followers of Jesus' meant to crystalize our characters. God permits such experiences to test our faithfulness and trust. The joys of God's Kingdom will more than compensate for every tear and sorrow.
Beatitudes in the Psalms
Let us now take a closer look at some of the beatitudes given to use in the book of Psalms.
Psalm 1: 1, 2
Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Worldly, ungodly friends can be a blessing at times, but often can distract us from the main goal of our life, which is to delight in the principles of the Lord.
How could we meditate on the law of the Lord day and night? We know it can't mean literally 24 hours a day. We have to take time to eat, work, sleep and take care of our earthly obligations. To meditate in His law day and night means in all aspects of life, at any given moment, we have the underlying influence of God's underlying principles that govern both our conscious and subconscious thoughts and actions. Whenever we have free time, our minds, like the needle of a compass, should return to our relationship with our Lord, whose presence is with us every moment. Even at night when we can't sleep:
Psalm 63:5,6: My soul shall be upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches.
PSALM 32:1, 2
How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!
How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit!
This beatitude was written by King David. It expresses the agony he felt for not acknowledging his sin. Not until David confessed and prayed for forgiveness was he blessed by being assured of God's forgiveness. Later, God punished David for the willful portion of his sin.
Charles Russell wrote of two types of sin: "There is another class of sin, partly of weakness and heredity, and partly assented to by the mind. This we might term a mixed sin. The Lord, in forgiving this sin, will restore the joys of His countenance to His child and entirely cover or overlook the transgression in proportion as it was unwillful, unintentional, through ignorance; but He will punish that portion which was of knowledge and connivance or assent of the mind."
Blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust,
and has not turned to the proud,
nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
Those who put their full faith and trust in our Lord are truly blessed, as compared to those who put their trust in man. Man's pride can cause him to take full credit for great accomplishments, but this pride deceives him and makes him susceptible to being led astray.
In contrast to our Lord: Hebrew 13:8: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever."
He has promised:
Hebrews 13:5: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
If we put our trust in God, He has promised to help in any and every endeavor we undertake that is in harmony with His will. So, do not hesitate to step out in faith in an endeavor that God has placed on your heart that seems to be beyond your ability.
Mark 10:27: "Jesus looked straight at them and said, 'Humanly speaking it is impossible, but not with God. Everything is possible with God.'"
Blessed is he who considers the helpless;
The LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble.
The LORD will protect him and keep him alive,
And he shall be called blessed upon the earth;
And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies.
The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed;
In his illness, you restore him to health.
In a general way, all who have sympathy for the helpless will be blessed, but the Psalm seems to apply more specifically to righteous people who assist the helpless in the time of trouble. The Psalm is telling us the LORD will protect the righteous from their enemies, keeping them alive, and they would be called blessed upon the earth.
Blessed is the man whom thou choosest,
and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts:
we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house,
even of thy holy temple.
Truly, those whom the Lord has called and chosen are now blessed beyond measure. What a privilege that is!
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those who "dwell in your house," meaning those people who continuously and joyfully seek to do God's will, appreciate His character, want to follow Him and share those blessings with others.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
Those people who are strengthened by God as they follow Him while going through trials and difficulties are blessed.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs.
Our pilgrimage, or walk in the "Narrow Way," will take us through the valley of Baca (which means the Valley of Tears and Trials). Notice what happens as we go through this valley: they make it a "place of springs". That is, our trials become a place of cool springs of water to refresh us as we travel along. How? As we go through trials we are strengthened, lifted up by God's promises of blessings to come.
1 Peter 1:7 "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
We go from the strength of one trial to the next, where more promised strength will be given, until we reach our promised haven of rest in Zion (heaven).
How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance.
In Your name they rejoice all the day,
And by Your righteousness they are exalted.
For You are the glory of their strength,
And by Your favor our horn is exalted.
To know God's great love through His glorious plan to bless not only those who follow Him now, but all the people of the world through the sacrifice of Jesus, is truly a blessing.
The text says: "By your favor our horn is exalted." Horns (like horns on an animal), are used in scripture as symbolic of power. Here, it refers to the power or influence we have as God's ambassadors. It is by proclaiming God's truth that increases our ability to be a blessing to others. Therefore, God is the glory of our strength as we proclaim His truth to others, and in turn the power of our ambassador's horn of influence is exalted.
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who greatly delights in His commandments.
The blessed ones referred to here are not those with fear or dread, but rather those who have reverence for our Almighty God! These are the ones that delight in HIS word, principles and commandments and want to serve Him continually. God, in turn, blesses these people with the understanding of His plan by giving them His Spirit, watching over them, instructing guardian angels to protect them always and providing only what would be for their best spiritual interest.
How happy (blessed) the man whom thou correctest (disciplines)
O Jehovah! and whom, out of thy law, thou instructest!
That thou mayest give him REST from the days of adversity,
Until there be digged—for the lawless one—a pit.
For Yahweh, will not abandon, his people,
And, his inheritance, will he not forsake.
Again, the ones who will be blessed are those whom the Lord disciplines and instructs, for all these are designed to bring us to the ultimate REST that remains for all God's children. When will it be? After all those who follow God have entered into their final earthly rest, and a pit is dug for the lawless one (Satan) to be cast into. The blessedness of discipline ends with a beautiful hope-filled thought: Jehovah will never abandon or forsake his people! WHY?—because God considers them as His inheritance.
For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. "This
is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it."
Who could ever imagine that God considers those who truly love and follow Him as worthy to receive His inheritance of rest? And if faithful, we will have the privilege and honor to dwell with Him for all eternity.