“Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.” – Psalm 112:1-4
Psalm 112 is not in our lectionary readings this week, but it is a perfect complement to Psalm 111, and so it deserves our consideration as an extension of the previous psalm. If Psalm 111 is a praise psalm that lists all the attributes of God which his people love and admire and worship, then Psalm 112 is a praise psalm that lists all the attributes that well up in us as the side effects of belonging to God and being near to him. His attributes spill over into us who listen and watch for him, who cry out to and follow him. Maybe we could describe the relation of these two psalms this way - the point of nearness to God is greater likeness to him. This again may give us a clue as to the meaning of fear which appears in the first verse - fear is a voluntary exposure to God’s gracious power with the expectation, anticipation, and desire that it will alter the substance of who we are. The purpose of encountering Jesus at his cross, in his resurrection, through the outpouring and indwelling of his Spirit is fundamental and lasting change.
Psalm 112 holds out this same promise (because we are so prone to forget and chase after counterfeit promises) that by praising the qualities of our Father and King and Redeemer, and by adopting his character through wearing his commandments with delight (v. 1), we are changed and changing.
We are upright among the bent and crooked, and we hand uprightness down to our children and all who are part of us to use freely as they move through the world (v. 2). The upright see light where others can only see darkness (v. 4).
We are given wealth and riches as expressions of the godly attributes of generosity and mercy and justice (vs. 4, 5, 9). Notice how MUCH over-the-top generosity figures into the portrait painted by this psalm.
We are immovable in righteousness (v. 6). Jesus will preach two thousand years later in the Sermon on the Mount that, Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled to bursting. Go ahead! Indulge on righteousness. Be gluttonous in righteousness! In other words, once you have developed a taste for righteousness, everything else will be distasteful and stomach-turning.
And we have mountains for hearts (v. 6). Our hearts can’t be shaken. We laugh at bad news (v. 7), not because it isn’t real, but because it is not final. And more than that, all bad news is just another stage on which our God will play out the fullness of his inscrutable goodness to us. Whatever wounds us, whatever fills our eyes with tears, they only magnify God’s grace to us and so we will triumph over each of them in the end.
While every last enemy of godliness is devouring itself with its own angry gnashings (v. 10), we are preoccupied with chasing down holy resemblances, with the source of these traits himself cheers us on and fills us up. The good news that bleeds through this psalm is, you can come to him just as you are, but thank God on high through Christ, there is no way in heaven or earth he will leave you as you are.
Faith and Practice:
Choose an attribute from Psalm 112 and chase after it. Practice it. It will feel clunky and unnatural at first. It will become natural, the more you perform it. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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