I. Christian theology addresses the topic of happiness by addressing, first, the being and works of “the happy God” (1 Tim 1.11; 6.15) and, second, the happiness of the people whose God is the Lord (Ps 33.12).
II. God is happy because he possesses infinite riches of being, wisdom, goodness, and power in and of himself (Gen 17.1; John 5.26; Rom 11.33; Eph 3.16) and because he possesses these infinite riches within the perfect communion, knowledge, and love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt 11.25-27; John 17.24-26). The happy God is the supreme paradigm and source of all creaturely happiness.
III. Though we may speak of the happiness of all sorts of creatures insofar as they may achieve various states of rest and satisfaction in various circumstances (e.g., the duck who finds peaceful habitation in the pond), creaturely happiness, in a strict sense, is a condition proper only to certain kinds of creatures (i.e., angels and human beings), who are capable of possessing, knowing, and loving both finite and infinite objects of happiness.
IV. Human beings in their natural state are intrinsically incomplete and unrealized. Therefore, they can only acquire happiness in relation to other creatures and, ultimately, in relation to God, the supreme happiness toward which all creaturely objects of happiness direct us. This natural state of human beings exhibits itself subjectively in the soul’s restlessness, hunger, and thirst to possess finite and, ultimately, infinite objects of happiness: “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord. . . Happy are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise” (Ps 84.1-2, 4).
V. Because the ultimate happiness of human beings lies in God, God must instruct human beings in that ultimate happiness, and also in the way that leads to that ultimate happiness, if they are to realize their natures in relation to God (Gen 2; Prov 8.32-36).
VI. Human sin and folly consists in throwing this divine instruction aside and in pursuing the wrong objects of happiness in the wrong way: in exchanging the glory of the happy God for the false promises of wealth, honor, fame, power, health, and pleasure. “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2.12-13).