Theme: Three Other Blessings
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
As we noted in yesterday’s study, the middle and chief section of this psalm (vv. 2-9) describes the specific blessings of the person who fears and joyfully obeys God. We have already looked at the blessing on the children of the upright, and riches with righteousness. Today we continue with three more of God’s blessings on the godly.
3. Light with compassion (v. 4). Here is another place where Psalm 112 picks up on an idea from Psalm 111, and in precisely the same place. It is said in the preceding psalm that “the LORD is gracious and compassionate” (v. 4), an important revelation drawn from God’s disclosure of his deepest character to Moses on Mount Sinai: “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6).1 Here the same terms are applied to the righteous person.
There is some difficulty determining who the source is of the light mentioned in this verse. Some have taken it as belonging to the godly man so that he becomes a light for other upright people, encouraging them. It is probably better to see it as God or God’s light. Delitzsch says, “God himself is the light which arises in darkness for those who are sincere in their dealings with him.”2
4. Good with generosity and justice (v. 5). Good is a very broad term, meaning merely “good things.” So the verse is saying that good things come to the person who is: 1) generous with other people; 2) willing to lend to those who are in need; and 3) just in his or her affairs. Again, these are characteristics affirmed of God in Psalm 111. God shows his generosity when he provides food for those who fear him” (v. 5) and “the lands of other nations” for them to dwell in (v. 6). His justice is seen in both his “works” and “precepts” (v.7).
5. Stability with faith (vv. 6-8). There are several temptations that are apt to beset a rich man: greed (always wanting more), abuse of the power wealth brings, indulgent vacillations, and fear that the power and wealth might be lost. The latter half of this section, beginning with verse 5, shows how the godly man overcomes these temptations. Instead of being greedy, he is generous (vv. 5, 9). Instead of abusing the power wealth brings, he is just (v. 5). Instead of indulgent vacillations, he is steady and steadfast in his way of life (v. 6). Instead of fear that his power and wealth might be lost, he is fearless because he trusts God (vv. 7, 8).
Verses 6-8 emphasize the godly person’s steady trust in God even when he or she receives bad news or deals with enemies. The very mention of bad news is an indication of how the earlier promises should be taken, for we are not to think that the godly person never has any trouble. He does have enemies, and he does get bad news from time to time. Nevertheless, he is not shaken by either his enemies or bad news, because his trust is in God and not in his material possessions.
It is hard not to think of Job at this point. Job had an enemy who is also our great enemy, that is, Satan. Satan slandered Job to God, claiming that the only reason Job loved and served God was because God had made him a rich man. This was not true. So God allowed Satan to take away Job’s rich store of livestock and even his family to prove it was a lie. In one day Job lost five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys to the Sabeans, seven thousand sheep to lightning, and three thousand camels to the Chaldeans. The servants who were caring for the livestock were all killed; and to top it off, all Job’s children—seven sons and three daughters—were killed in an evening when a tornado struck the house where they were feasting and it collapsed on them.
Here was both an enemy and bad news, bad news of the worst imaginable kind. Yet Job was a model of steadfast trust in God. When he was told of these disasters, he tore his robe and shaved his head, two ancient signs of mourning. But then stunningly, he fell to his knees to worship God, saying,
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (Job 1:21).
The chapter ends by saying, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (v. 22).
It takes strong character and steadfast faith in God to do that, but it is exactly this character and trust that the person acquires who fears God, obeys and delights in his commands. The psalm says of him,
He will have no fear of bad news,his heart is steadfast, trusting in theLORD. His heart is secure, he will have no fear;in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
1Exodus 34:6 is another verse that is referred to many times in the Old Testament, like Psalm 110:1 and 4. See Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; and Jonah 4:2.
2Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Psalms, trans. Francis Bolton (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, n.d.), vol. 3. p. 200. However, Delitzsch also sees the adjectives of the second part of the verse as referring to God, just as they did in Psalm 111 (they are singular in both places). But the pattern already fixed of applying the characteristics of God to the godly person indicates that they probably refer to one who in this as in other respects is being remade in God’s image.
List three elements describing the blessedness of the godly.
Why is it significant that bad news is mentioned in this psalm?
Describe how Job is an example of “stability with faith.”
How do you rate yourself in terms of compassion, generosity, and stability in faith? Do others view you in the same way?
How do you generally respond to bad news? Does worshipping God come naturally to you in times of trouble?