Theme: Outward and Inward 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
The middle and chief section of the psalm (vv. 2–9) describes the specific blessings of the person who fears and joyfully obeys God. But it does this in a remarkable way, combining two ideas. What do you think of when you think of God’s blessings? Do you think of outward things such as wealth, health, security, or a good reputation? Or do you think of inward things such as traits of godly character? Either one is right, and in fact both are blessings. In this section the two ideas are developed side by side: on the one hand, the outward visible blessedness of the godly, and on the other hand, their inner godly character.
1. Blessing on the children of the upright (v. 2). The first blessing is on the children of the godly, saying that they will be mighty in the land. Mighty means being of recognized stature or standing, rather than being physically strong, and the character trait that is linked with this outward visible blessing is uprightness, a trait that is also mentioned again later (in v. 4). Clearly there is a link between these blessings. For what the verse is saying is that the man who lives an upright life will see that character passed to his children and they in turn will be regarded as people of high moral standing.
This is a general observation, of course. It applies in most cases. But it does not promise that the children of the godly will always turn out to be model citizens or suggest that disobedience in children is always their parents’ fault.
2. Riches with righteousness (v. 3). The second pairing of outward and inward blessings is wealth and righteousness. We do not normally think of wealth being a promised blessing from God, and it is true that not all who live godly lives are prospered financially. There are many righteous persons among the poor. On the other hand, riches are said to be a gift to those who love wisdom (Prov. 3:16; 8:18; 22:4). And lest we dismiss this as being only an Old Testament idea, we should remember that Jesus said nearly the same thing in Mark 10:29, 30: “I tell you the truth…no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” But he also balanced this with verse 31 (“But many who are first will be last, and the last first”), as if to say that it is only a general principle and does not hold true in every case.
The second line of verse 3 is reproduced exactly from the second line of verse 3 in the previous psalm. In that psalm it referred to the righteousness of God. Here it is the righteousness of the godly man. This must have been an extremely important idea for the psalmist, because the same line occurs again in verse 9.
What this means is that the psalmist probably had a different emphasis than we do when we consider these ideas today. We look at verse 3 and say, “If I am righteous, the chances are that I will do well in life; honesty does pay, God will probably bless me.” The psalmist’s point is probably something like this: “If I fear God and obey his commands, I will grow in righteousness, just as God is righteous. And, oh yes, incidentally, I will probably do well in business, too.” Wealth is a blessing, though it is no proof of godliness. There are many wealthy people who are scoundrels. But if we must choose between the two, from the godly man’s point of view it is far more important to be godly than rich. We are told in the New Testament that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).
In what ways does God bless godly people?
Identify the first blessing. What does it mean?
What is the blessing in verse 3 and what does the psalmist mean by this?
Is it always true that godly parents will have godly children? How does knowing this help you?
What is the difference in emphasis in how the psalmist links obedience to blessing and how we typically link the two?
Reflection: Do you generally consider God’s blessings to be primarily inward or outward traits? How does today’s lesson balance your view?
Application: Review past blessings in your life. Are they what you would always have considered to be a blessing?
Prayer: Pray for the children of the leaders of your church, as well as for those parents who are dealing with children who are struggling spiritually.
Key Point: The man who lives an upright life will see that character passed to his children and they in turn will be regarded as people of high moral standing.