Theme: What Godliness Looks Like
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
Who is the godly man who will be blessed? His godliness consists of three things.1
1. He fears God. Most Christians know that when the Bible tells us to fear God it is not telling us to shake in terror before him. That is not what the biblical words mean. The fear the Bible is talking about is best described as a profound reverence; that is, we are to revere God or stand in awe of him. On the other hand, we should not dismiss the idea of fear too easily, for there is that which is terrifying about God. God is holy, majestic, forceful, and he is frighteningly opposed to everything that is unholy or that would seek to diminish his glory. This tells us that we cannot take God lightly. It says that God cannot be inconsequential to us or weightless in our thinking or acting.
The person who is blessed according to this psalm is, first of all, the person who takes God seriously. Indeed, he or she takes him with full seriousness—as the starting point of everything, the critical factor in every calculation, and the end to which everything is moving and to whom we are all accountable.
2. He obeys God. The second characteristic of the godly person follows easily from the first. For if the great, majestic God of the Bible really is the most important thing for him in every situation, it is clear that he will also be obeying God in every situation. This is the meaning of the word “commands.” The text does not say that the godly person finds delight in God, though it could have. Minneapolis pastor and writer John Piper has written several books about the godly person’s delight in God.2 It is an important emphasis. But this text says that the godly man or woman delights in God’s commands.
3. He delights in God’s commands. That is the third thing: delight. The godly person does not merely do what God says, though that is necessary and of great importance. It says that he or she delights in God’s commands and obviously also in doing them. There is an echo here of the previous psalm. Psalm 111:2 spoke of delight in God’s works. Here, in Psalm 112:1 we are told that God’s people also delight in his words. Derek Kidner says rightly that “to this man God’s word is as fascinating as are his works to the naturalist.”3
We need to examine ourselves by this probing definition of the godly person. We all want to be blessed by God, and should. We want to be in his good graces and be prospered by him. God wants us to be blessed, too. He delights in blessing his people. But there are conditions to blessing and they are: 1) that we fear or reverence God; 2) that we obey him; and 3) that we delight in his commandments. Putting these thoughts together with the earlier psalm, we understand that we will do these things if we truly and deeply appreciate the greatness of God in his works and to us personally.
1These truths were also taught in the corresponding verse in Psalm 111, dealing with the praise of God, namely: We must praise God ourselves; we must praise God with all our hearts, not half-heartedly; and our praise of God should be open, visible or public.
2.John Piper, Desiring God (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1986), and The Pleasures of God (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1991).
3Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms (Leicester, England and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1975), p. 399
How does the Bible define fear of God? What practical lessons do we learn from understanding this?
What is the step that should follow delight in God’s commands?
Summarize the three ways godliness is characterized. How are they related?
Application: Measure your own godliness by the three descriptions given. Do you reflect God’s light? How can you take God more seriously? What needs to change in your decision-making or thinking pattern?
For Further Study: For more on the need for godliness, download and listen for free to James Boice’s message from 1 Timothy 4, “Godliness: A Great Gain.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)