Theme: Two Ways of Life
In this week’s lessons, we learn what the godly person is like, and what the blessings are that come to those who fear the Lord.
Scripture: Psalm 112:1-10
In the past two days’ studies, we have looked at five blessings of the person who fears and joyfully obeys God. Today we conclude this list with a sixth blessing.
6. Honor with compassion (v. 9). The last verse of this section returns to three of the psalm’s earlier themes: the godly man’s generosity, his righteousness, and his well-deserved might, power or reputation. It is interesting that the apostle Paul quotes this verse in 2 Corinthians 9:9 to encourage generosity in Christians:
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:6-11).
The reference to God supplying “bread for food” shows that Paul also saw the connection between Psalms 111:5 and 112:5, as I did earlier.
I have handled verse 9 as a summary of what has been written about the godly man in the body of this psalm, but it would be equally right to link it to verse 10 so that these last verses together make a contrast between two ways of life, the way of the godly and the way of the wicked. This reminds us of Psalm 1. The structure of the psalm maybe even suggests this since these last two verses each have three lines and therefore fall together, as opposed to the other earlier verses of the psalm that only have two lines. Derek Kidner says,
The companion psalm [Psalm 111], whose subject was the Lord, finished with a verse that invited man’s response. The present psalm, having expounded that response, clinches the matter by showing how bitter, transient and futile is the only alternative way of life.1
Verse 10 says the wicked man “will gnash his teeth” when he looks on the prosperity of the righteous. I do not think that always happens in this life. The wicked often remain quite content with themselves and despise the righteousness. But it will happen one day, when life is done. The Bible describes hell as a place where there is an eternal “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12). If you are not yet a Christian, don’t wait for then to discover what life is actually about.
1Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms, (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1975), p. 400
For what purpose did Paul quote verse 9 in 2 Cor. 9:6-11?
Why is it important for Christians to be generous?
With what warning does Psalm 112 end?
Review Psalm 1 and note the differences between the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked.
Application: Do you reflect honor with compassion? Check yourself against the requirements.
For Further Study: The Psalms has much to teach us about the character of God, and of our response to live lives that are pleasing to him. Order your copy of James Boice’s three-volume set, and take 25% off the regular price.