Chapter 1
Proverbs on Happiness, Joy, and Rejoicing

We are conducting this study in the midst of the Christmas season when people should be merry and cheerful. For many, they are happy, but unfortunately, there are many folks that are anything but merry. They are miserable and heartbroken, scarred by things such as death, divorce, disease, or depleted funds from unemployment. There are so many things in this world that can rob us of our joy and happiness. Yet, for Christians, there are many reasons for them to rejoice and be happy.

I believe King Solomon was a happy man as long as his focus was upon the Lord in his life. I say this because he offered a great deal of wisdom on how to be happy. The principles for happiness that he shared in the book of Proverbs are not costly. Many of them have to do with our character and our concern for other people, instead of our checkbook.

The world believes that happiness and joy are found in money and possessions, but Solomon made it clear that happiness is found in the Lord and having the right priorities in your life. He makes it clear that joy comes from who we are on the inside, not what we have or own.

Many today, including Christians, are grumpy, angry, and cynical because they are stinking selfish. Their whole world is wrapped around themselves. All they talk about is me, me, me. Their entire focus is on number one, not the needs of others. Such a life will make you miserable and rob you of your smile.

Life does not have to be this way, however. If we will be teachable, and apply the principles that Solomon shared with us in Proverbs, we really can be happy people. So what makes a person happy? We will begin the message by answering this question.

I. The Causes for Happiness and Joy

1. Common Sense or Wisdom

Proverbs 3:13, 18 — Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. ... 18She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

Proverbs 15:20 — A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.

Proverbs 23:15-16 — My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. 16Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.

Proverbs 23:24-25 — The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. 25Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.

Proverbs 27:11 — My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.

Proverbs 29:3a — Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father ...

Repeatedly, the Bible tells us that happiness is found in having wisdom. There is great satisfaction in finding the solution to a problem or understanding something that is difficult. Wisdom brings joy. Fathers find great joy in seeing that their sons walk in wisdom and have some common sense about them. No dad wants to rear a fool. This is why responsible fathers will teach their sons to have wisdom and common sense. They will instruct them on how to make good decisions for daily living. When they see their boys grow up to be men who have some horse sense, it is a delight to their hearts.

So where do you get wisdom? Listen to your father. Listen to wise counselors. Study God's Word. Pray and ask God for His wisdom.

James 1:5 — If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Psalm 19:7 — The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

2. A Consistent, Consecrated Reverence for the Lord gives Joy

Proverbs 28:14a — Happy is the man that feareth alway. ...

Cherishing the Lord and having a deep love and respect for Him will bring you happiness because He is the source of happiness. This consecration is consistent, not up one day and down the next. Happy is the man the feareth always. Your closeness to Him is what will satisfy your heart and give you peace.

Matthew 11:28-29 — Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

3. Confidence or Trust in the Lord gives Joy

Proverbs 16:20 — He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.

Why is a person happy that trusts in the Lord? There are several reasons to consider. First of all, God's care is always consistent and meets our needs.

Philippians 4:19 — But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

He is able to solve the problems we face that we are incapable of solving. His wisdom, work, and ways are beyond our comprehension and demonstrate His glory and splendor. His ways are past finding out, leaving us in awe. Knowing His greatness and power gives us peace, security, and assurance that we are in capable hands. We can rest under the shadow of His wings.

Psalm 63:7 — Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

Psalm 36:7 — How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

Psalm 17:8 — Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,

4. Christlikeness gives Joy

Proverbs 13:9a — The light of the righteous rejoiceth ...

Proverbs 29:6 — In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.

Joy comes from living a godly life because righteousness does not create conviction, guilt, regret, and remorse. The light or life of the righteous rejoices because it is a blessing to know that doing what is right pleases the Lord and brings honor to Him. God gives joy to the righteous by rewarding those who are godly. He exalts those who are godly. Men like Daniel and Joseph are great examples of this truth.

Proverbs 14:34a — Righteousness exalteth a nation ...

5. Compliance toward God's Word

Proverbs 29:18 — Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Those who keep God's law will be happy. Why? Because obedience to God's Word is what brings blessing, prosperity, and success. God wants us to enjoy His blessings. This is why He spent so much time instructing us how to receive them. What you do with the Bible is going to determine what God does with you.

Joshua 1:8 — This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Never underestimate the power of the Bible to transform a person's life. The Spirit of God can use the Word of God to bring delight to the defeated, to bring victory to those caught in vice, and to redeem the renegade rebel. For example, many years ago in a Moscow theater, matinee idol Alexander Rostovzev was converted to Christ while playing the role of Jesus in a sacrilegious play entitled Christ in a Tuxedo. He was supposed to read two verses from the Sermon on the Mount, remove his gown, and cry out, "Give me my tuxedo and top hat!"

But as he read the words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted," he began to tremble. Instead of following the script, he kept reading from Matthew 5 right there on the stage, ignoring the coughs, calls, and foot-stamping of his fellow actors.

Finally, recalling a verse he had learned in his childhood in a Russian Orthodox church, he cried, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom!" (Luke 23:42). Before the curtain could be lowered, Rostovzev had trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.

6. Confirming or Caring Out Justice gives Joy

Proverbs 21:15a — It is joy to the just to do judgment ...

Those who have integrity and a concern for the right treatment of people rejoice in correcting matters that are unjust. Justice brings fairness, which in turn brings stability. When corruption abounds, then bitterness brews in the hearts of broken people. When people are treated right and fairly, then peace exists among them.

7. Compassion upon the Poor leads to Happiness

Proverbs 14:21b — he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

Many times, those who are poor are belittled and oppressed by others. Solomon stated that having compassion, mercy, or being kind to those who are poor will bring you joy. Why? One reason is because of the gratitude that will be expressed to you. When you bring joy into the lives of others who have financial needs, then it will bring joy to you. Living for others, whether rich or poor, yields its own reward.

Philippians 2:4 — Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Lord, help me to live from day to day

In such a self forgetful way

That even when I kneel to pray

My prayer shall be for others.

Help me in all the work I do

To ever be sincere and true

And know that all I'll do for you

Must needs be done for others.

Others, Lord, others

Let this my motto be.

Help me to live for others,

That I may live like Thee.

8. Championing Peace gives Joy

Proverbs 12:20 — Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

Those who promote peace and try to urge people to get along with one another have joy. That makes a lot of sense. It is hard to be happy when people are fussing, fighting, feuding, and foaming at the mouth. When people get along, however, it brings delight.

Let me ask, "Do you get along with those around you or is your life characterized by constant conflict and contention?" If so, you may have a problem with selfishness, foolishness, bitterness, or pride.

Proverbs 13:10 — Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

Proverbs 18:6 — A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

Proverbs 22:10 — Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.

God's blessings are upon those who are peacemakers.

Matthew 5:9 — Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

The pursuit of peace demonstrates wisdom.

James 3:17-18 — But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

9. Consistent, Conscientious Work leads to Joy

Proverbs 31:25 — Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

Solomon described a hard-working woman that diligently cared for her family. Her labors kept her busy, but she found joy from the fulfillment and satisfaction that came from meeting her family's needs.

10. The Calming, Sweet Aroma of Perfume

Proverbs 27:9a — Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart. ...

Soothing lotions on cuts and scratches or the sweet fragrance of perfume does bring rejoicing. Thanks God for things that smell good and feel good when you are in pain.

11. Counsel from a Good Friend

Proverbs 27:9 — Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.

Just as perfume is pleasant, the loving wise words of a close friend bring pleasure and joy. A good and honest friend can lift your spirit and cause great pleasure by sincere and profitable advice. His counsel is sweet to the soul because it is rare, comforting, and provocative to the soul. It stirs the spirit with confidence, goodwill, hope, joy, and thanksgiving. Thank God for close friends that you can share your heart and your burdens.

12. The Companion You Married

Proverbs 5:18 — Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

One of the big mistakes that many men make today is a lack of closeness with their wives. They have not learned to have a good time with them. Let me challenge you to make your wife your best friend. Rejoice with the wife of your youth. Take her out on dates. Talk with the woman. Enjoy her presence. When the relationship between a husband and wife is close and intimate, there will be joy in the marriage. Many marriages are not happy, however, because the couple does not spend time with one another. They don't do fun things together. Rejoice with your wife.

13. The Correction of your Child

Proverbs 29:17 — Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

If you want to have happiness or delight in your life, then correct your kids while they are young. If you don't, they will grow up and make your life miserable. They will be selfish, undisciplined, ungrateful, and rebellious. Those are not ingredients for a happy family. Correct your son and he will give you rest and peace. That is a blessing that should not be taken for granted.

14. The Control and Well-being of the Righteous

Proverbs 29:2 — When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

Proverbs 11:10 — When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.

People rejoice when good people are in authority and are not oppressed by those who are wicked.

14. Communication that is Commendable Gives Joy

Proverbs 12:25 — Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

Proverbs 15:30 — The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.

Proverbs 16:13 — Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.

Proverbs 15:23 — A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

Never underestimate the encouragement that your words and bring to another person. Hearing the right things and also saying the right things bring happiness.

II. Cautions about Improper Joy

Proverbs 24:17 — Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

Proverbs 17:5 — Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

Solomon cautions us that we should not rejoice when our enemy falls or stumbles. That is our natural tendency, especially when our enemy has been a bully, a butcher, and deserves what he gets. We have a tendency to see our revenge fulfilled upon our enemies and see that they get what is coming to them. The feeling of satisfaction, however, will only be momentary. The misery of your enemy is not going to give you joy, even though you may think it will.

Solomon offers some wisdom here and tells us to not rejoice when our enemy falls. He also adds that we should not be glad at the calamities of others. If we are happy at the sufferings of others, we will face suffering and not be unpunished.

III. Corrupt Joy

Proverbs 2:14 — Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked.

We are not to find our happiness from doing that which is sinful. You may ask, "Do people actually do this?" Oh my, you better believe it. There are many people that find pleasure in immorality, drunkenness, stealing, bullying people or harming others. They get their kicks in being wicked and doing that which is wrong. They cackle at corruption, confusion, and conflict because they are focused upon themselves and are unconcerned about other people.

IV. Crooks of Joy

Proverbs 17:21 — He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

A foolish son will rob his father of his joy. Good fathers do not want their boys to grow up to be careless, wasteful, and wild. They want their boys to grow up to be men with character, wisdom, self-control, and compassion for other people. When their sons grow up without these traits, it grieves them for they realize they have failed to teach their boys these important traits.

V. The Consequences of Joy

1. A Cheerful Countenance

Proverbs 15:13 — A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Joy that is within the heart will show up on the face because it is difficult to put a lid on it. Joy causes a person to bubble over from within. The joy of the Lord leads to smiles and to lips dripping with praise for Him.

In the same manner, when there is sorrow or bitterness in the heart, it will also be revealed in the countenance of the person. Your countenance does reveal a great deal about you. The face is a mirror of what is going on in the heart. If there is rebellion or hate in the heart, it will surface in the eyes and facial expressions.

2. A Continual Feast

Proverbs 15:15 — All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.

The person who has a merry heart does enjoy a continual feast. He enjoys a feast of blessings and happiness because he is counting those blessings and all that God has done for him. We all enjoy God's blessings every day but we don't recognize or see them because we are not looking for them. When we have a grateful heart, we will be alert and see what God has truly done for us.

3. Glory

Proverbs 28:12 — When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.

Solomon states that when godly men rejoice, triumph, or succeed, there is glory or honor.

4. Health

Proverbs 17:22 — A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Happiness and joy both have a healing or strengthening effect upon a person. Nehemiah told us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Take time to laugh folks, and thank God for those clowns in your life that make you laugh. Enjoying a clear conscience, because you have obeyed God's Word will give you a merry heart. Thank God for the joy the Holy Spirit gives to us.