In the above quote taken from H. Bonar’s How Shall I Go to God, the question is asked, “How shall I be happy? Isn’t this the question that people of all times and places have sought to answer, but have searched in all the wrong places. They attempted to find happiness through drugs, alcohol, sex, money, power, secret knowledge, etc.—only to find sorrow. The question from the weary soul is answered with; “secure the favor of God.” An answer that cannot be more profound in its implications. For those who attempt to find happiness through material, immoral, or other means; they could never succeed because the answer is found only in the pages of Scripture. However, it requires more than just being able to read a Bible passage. For the favor of God can only be acquired by believers who are in relationship with Him, and only by those who walk uprightly.
“Secure the favor of God,” and you can enjoy happiness! In order to unpack this concept we must examine the Scriptures, and before we do that it will be helpful to understand the definition of the word, “favor,” or “favour,”(British spelling). As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, the word means: friendly or kind regard; favoritism; a kind, friendly, or generous act; to be for, support, or endorse.
The concept of God’s favor is found throughout the Psalms and the Proverbs. Psalm 84:11 is shown above, Psalm 5:12 and Prov. 8:35 are listed below for reference.
“For You bless the righteous, O Lord;
You cover him with favor as with a shield.”Psalm 5:12
“For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord.“Proverbs 8:35
The Hebrew word for favor as it is used in the Old Testament expresses the idea of a strong affection from deep within. In this sense, to obtain God’s favor is to receive His blessing, His grace, His fellowship, and His affection. We now begin to see why obtaining God’s favor yields happiness for the recipient. Along with the verses in the Psalms and Proverbs concerning God’s favor, there are other verses which use a metaphor to communicate the same concept. The Hebrew metaphor of the “shining face” indicates the brightness of the face as a sign of inward delight and happy acceptance which results in the generous favor desired.1 These verses contain a phrase concerning the Lord’s face shining, or the Lord turning His face on someone. An example is Numbers 6:24-25:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.”
Similar verses are Psalm 67:1, Psalm 119:135, and Prov. 16:15. Having the Lord shine His face on you, or turning His face toward you is recognition that He has granted you His favor. A request for the Lord’s favor is often made by asking that He shine His face on you. Verses containing the Lord’s face or God’s favor, signify His blessing on the fortunate recipient. In these verses the concept of God’s favor is displayed. They are the resources which help to answer the question: How shall I be happy?
Noah, Samuel, and Jesus
Three persons named in Scripture who are described as having God’s favor upon them are Noah, Samuel, and Jesus. They walked uprightly and possessed righteousness resulting in God bestowing His favor on them. Not only did they walk uprightly and were righteous, but they did so during times of lawlessness and evil.
In the time of Noah, the book of Genesis tells us that the earth was filled with wickedness and the thoughts in the hearts of men were continually evil. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord because he was an upright and righteous man. He was not corrupted by the evil around him and remained honorable. Like Noah, Samuel lived during a time of extreme wickedness. The time of the judges was a period of great violence and disobedience to the commands of God. Samuel was also righteous, and he was faithful to God while a majority of the Israelites were worshiping idols. Samuel found favor in the sight of God, and God used him to judge Israel to restore justice and righteousness, (1Sam. 7:3-4). Finally with Jesus we see the perfection of righteousness, holiness, humility, and every other attribute of God. Jesus is the Kingdom of Light that upstaged the Kingdom of Darkness. He was the expression of God’s favor who brought salvation and deliverance to mankind. Jesus is the model of righteousness and of walking upright for us to follow. Noah and Samuel are examples of persons who remained upright while evil and disobedience surrounded them. They obtained the favor of God by their obedience to God’s commands and by their valued relationship with their Lord.
Secure the Favor of God
Are you a weary soul in search of happiness? Then find God’s favor by walking uprightly, and obtain the righteousness of Christ through faith. Find true fellowship with God by being in union with Christ, (c-my blog on Union with Christ). Many Christians profess faith in Christ but stall in their spiritual life because they fail to grow in the knowledge of God’s word, and in their relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit. They fail to secure the favor of God, which makes true happiness out of their reach. Walking upright requires obedience to God’s commands and teachings. This necessitates a knowledge of His teachings, and it also requires the work of the Spirit in the life of the believer. This is not possible without understanding, and understanding is not possible without knowledge and wisdom.
Study and learn God’s word contained in the Scriptures. Follow the teachings and example of Jesus by praying. Resist temptation and walk uprightly in the face of the lawlessness and evil that is upon us now. The Lord is gracious, and generous to bestow blessings on those who find favor in His eyes. May God bless you, and may the Lord’s face shine upon you!
1Woods, Clyde M., and Justin Rogers. Leviticus–Numbers. The College Press NIV Commentary. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 2006, pg. 218.