Darrow Miller and Friends

Precepts: The Unlikely Path to Joy

  1. Nations in Disorder – From Where Shall Help Come?
  2. Why God’s Laws Are the Only Protection from Tyranny
  3. What the Most BEAUTIFUL PSALM Teaches About A Flourishing Life
  4. God’s PERFECT LAW: Hope for the Human Race
  5. ONE LAW That Revives the Soul
  6. Gaining Wisdom in a World of Folly
  7. Precepts: The Unlikely Path to Joy
  8. Find the COMMANDS that Give LIGHT
  9. The Intimate FEAR that Promotes a PURE LIFE
  11. A Human That Doesn’t Thrive is Like a Fruit Tree That Doesn’t Bear

Answer: God’s precepts! Question: Where does joy come from?

The most beautiful song in the psalter affirms that The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart, Psalm 19:8a.

God's Precepts Give Joy

The Hebrew word translated “precepts” is פִּקּוּדִים (piq•qû•ḏîm): precepts, directions, regulation, i.e., “a principle instructing to do a certain action, which is to be obeyed by all in same society of the covenant.” The precepts are right (יָשָׁר yā•šār: right, upright, i.e., “what is morally innocent and proper according to a standard.”) They conform to God’s moral character; they are pure as gold having passed through the refiner’s fire. They are not only upright, they will set us straight. When we follow God’s precepts, we are set straight: “The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.”

We live in an age of moral relativism. Wrong is right! Evil and corruption become virtues! Vileness and the hideous are considered beautiful! Death replaces life at the heart of culture! Many people live in the world of illusion rather than in reality; they have lied so much they no longer know what is true. People live in a world of confusion; they chase after the wind and are lost in the labyrinth of their minds.

By nature, God’s precepts adhere to a standard. God has the ultimate plumb-line – to measure “upright” and integrity. We can know what is true, good, and beautiful. When we are confused, God’s directions restore our right mind and our right heart. And this leads to the Divine purpose of joy: שָׂמַח (śā•mǎḥ: “rejoice,” “be glad,” delight in,”i.e., “have a feeling or attitude of joy and happiness.”) What is the subject of that joy? Our very heart לֵב (lēḇ: “heart,” “mind,” “soul,” “spirit,” “self,” i.e., “the source of life of the inner person.”)

To be human is to desire happiness. But too often we look in the wrong places. In the modern world we think happiness is to be found in the pursuit of self, in ever increasing material consumption and moral license. But these do not bring happiness. The end of this road is too often emptiness and despair.

It is the precepts of the Lord that bring joy to the heart. Jesus claims for himself this spirit when he quotes from Isaiah 61 which includes these wonderful words,

“to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty, instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher who communicated so effectively in word pictures, summarizes the rejoicing heart that has succeeded in the pursuit of happiness: “Mark the progress; he who was converted was next made wise and is now made happy; that truth which makes the heart right then gives joy to the right heart.”

– Darrow Miller

This post is seventh in a series of ten on Psalm 19.

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).


  1. Michelle Owusu-Ansah

    August 20, 2013 - 3:47 am

    “When we are confused, God’s directions restore our right mind and our right heart.” This post by Darrow is a true revelation of how to gain absolute happiness in God and in the world, even in times of hardships and it is also a re-assurance that God’s direction through His Word is the right way to renew our minds and our hearts positively. Thank Darrow!!!

    • admin

      August 21, 2013 - 6:49 am

      Thanks, Michelle.

      Gary Brumbelow