This is a HOW TO psalm – HOW TO BE, in this case, HAPPY. The theological basis of this psalm is revealed in the opening verse:
As I was taught, Psalm 112 articulates a moral conviction regarding happiness.
I learned this in a seminary course on the Psalter, not from praying the psalm, not from intuiting what the Spirit is saying, teaching, prompting. Yet, once the theological basis for this psalm was learned, each time I read or pray the psalm – whether in worship or as part of the daily office readings, the Spirit speaks to me, reveals to me something new about God and how I think about God (theology) and leads me into a deeper relationship with the Word.
This has me thinking about the importance theology. Once, as a divinity student enrolled in a course on Theology, I was asked to identify the three primary sources for my theology – the way I think about God, learned about God, know God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I was shocked to hear that of the thirty-five or so students in this particular class not one, including me, named the Bible as a primary source for their theology. Not one. Sources mentioned? Nature. A friend. Roman Catholic catechism. Childhood trauma. A priest. Death of a loved one. Meditation. The Book of Common Prayer. Philosophy. Individual identity. Sunday School classes. Health. Addiction. A mystical experience. A novel. Music. Art. Family. Love.
In contrast, the primary source for all the theologians we were reading was Scripture. From Augustine to Cone theologians from all walks of life and circumstances, from all points of view and contexts, cite Scripture as at least one of their three primary sources. Why – how – is this not the case for modern day divinity students?
I was so troubled by that revelation in that class that I stepped off the MDIV track for a good long while.
And today that reality hit me hard like a slap in the face with the reading of this lovely psalm on happiness.
Happy? Am I? Is that the point? Not especially. But I am going to accept that the Spirit wants me to at least be thinking about happiness and whether my own is tied to the road and pursuit I left a good long while ago.