Theme: The Character of God Reflected
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
The last verse of Psalm 111 is the theme for Psalm 112. Or to put it another way, Psalm 112 picks up where Psalm 111 left off. Psalm 111 ended with that classic description of true, godly wisdom found several places in the wisdom literature (see Job 28:28; Prov. 1:7, 9:10; Eccles. 12:13):
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise (v. 10).
That is what Psalm 112 unfolds. It describes the character of the person who fears the Lord and honestly obeys his precepts, and in doing this it makes the point that the person who truly loves and worships God will be like him. Anyone will be like the god he or she worships.
This is also the point of having these two psalms printed together in the psalter, as they are. In our study of Psalm 111, I pointed out that the two are a matched pair in every way. They are the same length, fall into identical stanzas, and even have identical or similar phrases occurring at the same places in each. Both are precise acrostics; that is, they have twenty-two lines, each of which begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
J.J. Stewart Perowne summarizes his comparison like this:
The same significant phrases occur in both, and occur in such a way as to mark the mutual relation of the two poems. In the 111th the mighty deeds, the glory, the righteousness of Jehovah are celebrated in the assembly of the upright. In the 112th the righteousness, the goodness, the blessedness of the upright themselves are described and enlarged upon. The one sets forth God, his work and his attributes; the other tells us what are the work and character of those who fear and honour God.1
It is like the relationship between the sun and the moon. The sun shines by its own glorious light. The moon does not. But still it shines, and the way it shines is by reflecting the light that comes to it from the sun. So also with God and the godly person. If you are devoutly looking to God as you live your life, something of the glory of God will be seen in you and will be reflected from you to others. If nothing of God is reflected in you, it is a proof that you do not know him. It is because you are not truly a Christian.
The psalm begins with a great beatitude. A beatitude is a blessing that is also usually a promise. That is, it is a promise of blessing to a person who lives in a certain way. Most of us are aware of how this operates because of the beatitudes with which Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said that the meek will inherit the earth, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled, and the pure in heart will see God, to give just three examples. Similarly, Psalm 112:1 says,
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,who finds great delight in his commands.
The specific blessings of the godly man or woman are described in the main part of this psalm, which follows (vv. 2-9). But this first verse has to be appropriated by itself before we get to the blessings, since it defines who the godly person is. His godliness consists of three things, which we will look at in tomorrow’s study.
1J. J. Stewart Perowne, Commentary on the Psalms, 2 vols. in 1 (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1989), vol. 2, p. 315.
What is an acrostic psalm?
Identify the theme from Psalm 111 that Psalm 112 further develops.
What is a beatitude and where is one found in Psalm 112?
Reflection: Can you think of people who are like the god(s) they worship? How have you changed since becoming a Christian? Have you become more godly? In what ways?