WEATHER UPDATE (click title for more info):

Psalm 112

Sermon Transcript

If you are a God-fearing person, one thing is for sure: the blessing of God rests upon you.  How do I know this?  Because it is a timeless truth woven all through the Psalter. Our study of this great book opened with this promise in the first chapter:

1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, ad in His law he meditates day and night. 3 And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.  (Psalm 1).

See what I mean?  Fear and follow God, stay close to Him and obey His Word and he will metaphorically make your life like a fruitful tree.

I wonder.  What does that fruit look like, that fruit of divine blessing? If you had to identify the blessings of God on your life right now, which are directly related to your obedient relationship to Him, what would your fruit be exactly?

Pondering this question some 2,500 years ago, the post-exilic psalmist wrote another acrostic wherein he identifies the fruit, the blessing of God on a life which reverences God. Here is how it looks in Hebrew, for what it is worth.

 

WTT Psalm 112:1 הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֙הּ׀ אַשְׁרֵי־אִ֭ישׁ יָרֵ֣א אֶת־יְהוָ֑ה בְּ֜מִצְוֹתָ֗יו חָפֵ֥ץ מְאֹֽד׃

 2 גִּבּ֣וֹר בָּ֭אָרֶץ יִהְיֶ֣ה זַרְע֑וֹ דּ֭וֹר יְשָׁרִ֣ים יְבֹרָֽךְ׃

 3 הוֹן־וָעֹ֥שֶׁר בְּבֵית֑וֹ וְ֜צִדְקָת֗וֹ עֹמֶ֥דֶת לָעַֽד׃

 4 זָ֨רַ֤ח בַּחֹ֣שֶׁךְ א֭וֹר לַיְשָׁרִ֑ים חַנּ֖וּן וְרַח֣וּם וְצַדִּֽיק׃

 5 טֽוֹב־אִ֭ישׁ חוֹנֵ֣ן וּמַלְוֶ֑ה יְכַלְכֵּ֖ל דְּבָרָ֣יו בְּמִשְׁפָּֽט׃

 6 כִּֽי־לְעוֹלָ֥ם לֹא־יִמּ֑וֹט לְזֵ֥כֶר ע֜וֹלָ֗ם יִהְיֶ֥ה צַדִּֽיק׃

 7 מִשְּׁמוּעָ֣ה רָ֭עָה לֹ֣א יִירָ֑א נָכ֥וֹן לִ֜בּ֗וֹ בָּטֻ֥חַ בַּיהוָֽה׃

 8 סָמ֣וּךְ לִ֭בּוֹ לֹ֣א יִירָ֑א עַ֖ד אֲשֶׁר־יִרְאֶ֣ה בְצָרָֽיו׃

 9 פִּזַּ֤ר׀ נָ֨תַ֤ן לָאֶבְיוֹנִ֗ים צִ֭דְקָתוֹ עֹמֶ֣דֶת לָעַ֑ד קַ֜רְנ֗וֹ תָּר֥וּם בְּכָבֽוֹד׃

 10 רָ֨שָׁ֤ע יִרְאֶ֙ה׀ וְכָעָ֗ס שִׁנָּ֣יו יַחֲרֹ֣ק וְנָמָ֑ס תַּאֲוַ֖ת רְשָׁעִ֣ים תֹּאבֵֽד׃

 

His acrostic in Psalm 111 focused on praising the magnificent character of the living God.  In this Psalm, which employs similar terms as the former one, the psalmist focuses on the blessed life of a God-fearing believer.  As such, this is technically classified as a wisdom psalm.  Other wisdom psalms are 1, 36 (?), 37, 49, 73, 78 (?), 127, 128, 133, and possibly 139.  Dr. Allen Ross gives an apt description of these types of psalms:

There are portions of the Old Testament that give attention to the importance of one’s living his life in accordance with the Torah, a practical wisdom that produces a pious and productive life. Wisdom literature in the Old Testament, as well as in the ancient Near East in general, recognizes an established order in the world that rewards virtue and industry while bringing justice to evil and sloth.

Another facet of wisdom literature we need to note is this:  Its promises are generally true in life; however, it does leave room for life’s curveballs.  Just go study the lives of Peter or a Paul and they will tell you. Anyway, the promise of divine blessing resting on a saint who fears God and acts accordingly is very real and very realized more often than not. Can you relate? I can.

Before we get up close and personal with this wisdom song, let me give you another assignment.  Many of you devised an acrostic recently based on the thematic structure of Psalm 111.  Your praise focus, of course, should have been on God’s person and character.  Now, shift and construct an acrostic highlighting the various blessings, the fruit, which hang on your life tree because you love and obey God.

You ready to study Psalm 112?  Me too. Let’s get going.  What is the main idea of this song? A question puts the import of this number in bold relief:

 

What Are The Praiseworthy Blessings Of God-fearing Folks?

(Psalm 112)

Before the Psalmist presents his personal acrostic, he first establishes the main premise of the passage, the real foundation which causes the believers life, his tree to flourish with fruit.

1 Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments.

Again, the “Praise the LORD” statement ( הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֙הּ) is a divine command, not a suggestion. Ostensibly, this means we who know Christ should be deeply committed to living lives of praise to the God who has revealed Himself in so many profound ways (general and special revelation, the cosmological, teleological, ontological, and moral arguments, etc.), and who has also taught us how to live to please Him.

As you would expect from a wisdom psalm, this one tells us right up front how to have a blessed, or a meaningful, productive life before God.  One, you fear or reverence Him who is high and lifted up, who is absolutely holy (Isa. 6), who sits on an indescribably magnificent throne (Ezek. 1), and who is all-knowing and in control of all things in the entire cosmos.  To stand in his presence, as Moses did at the burning bush, is to discover that you must take off your sandals. Why? The ground is so holy your shoes elevate you higher than you should be before Him.  To reverence Him, to fear Him is to say you recognize that He creates light and darkness, he raises up people and He puts them down, and He has the ability to grant life or death.

How do you know if you fear Him?

  • You think about Him often.
  • What you know about Him actually influences how you live on a daily basis.
  • You don’t just burst or waltz nonchalantly into His presence, but you are humble.
  • You are fearful when you sin.

True, we can, because of our faith relationship with Christ, boldly (with confidence, NIV) enter God’s throne room (Heb. 4:16); however, no maturing saint ever loses the deep appreciation and understanding of the wholly otherness and transcendent purity/holiness of the Eternal One.

A blessed life, a fruitful life, really a wise life (as opposed to a foolish/unwise one), is committed to two truths. One the person in question has an abiding reverence for the greatness of God, and two, he/she logically delights (translated: thoroughly enjoys) in obeying God’s teachings.  This saint does not argue with God’s laws, rules, regulations, and moral dictums for he knows this leads to a life devoid of blessing and one full of tragic, lingering mistakes.  On the contrary, he cannot wait to apply what he learns from the Word to his life.  This is the type of life which is laden, eventually, with the fruits of God’s blessings. Does this describe you? Do you know what your fruits are? While you are thinking about that, I invite you to study what the Psalmist said his fruits were.  No doubt, we can learn much spiritual truth from each fruit he describes.

 

From my study of this text, I believe seven fruits, which relates to God’s number of perfection, are embedded in these ten verses:

Fruit 1: His Children Have Impact (Psalm 112:2)

What Christian does not want their children to leave a lasting, positive, and powerful spiritual impression on this old, sinful world?  Who does not want to raise a Deborah (a Judge of Israel), Esther, David, or an Elijah, a Jeremiah, a Paul, a Martin Luther, a John Calvin, a Jonathan Edwards, a Billy Sunday, a Dwight L. Moody, a Billy Graham, a Corrie Ten Boom, or a Henrietta Mears who will stand courageously for God’s truth and moral living in a truthless, immoral world?  While the wicked raise children who deconstruct God’s laws, while writing their own twisted ones, who  mock those who fear God, who cry for tolerance of their twistedness but  quickly show intolerance of any saint who dares to oppose them, who can’t handle when someone disagrees with them, who, well, you can fill in the blank, I’m sure . . . yes, while the wicked raise children who oppose all which is holy, just, pure, and logical, thinking they are making a great, positive impact on this world, it is only the godly who raise children who make any kind of profound impact which actually matters to the living God.  This verse tells us this much:

2 His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.

The descendents of the God-fearing person are “mighty on earth.”  The word “mighty” is the Hebrew for warrior, gibbor ( גִּבּ֣וֹר).   David’s special bodyguards were rightfully called gibborim (plural) or his elite, crack, well-seasoned troops.

Applied to the children of those who reverence God and obey His commands what does this mean?  I think it means they will typically raise children who will go on to be God’s proven soldiers in the battle for truth inside and outside the Church.  They, too, will love the Word and obey the Word and will stand by it no matter what, knowing that it is God’s Word and it possesses all the answers to mankind’s complex issues. They will fearlessly swim against the grain of their carnal, combative culture and use apologetic arguments to pull down and dismantle vain, vacuous cultural arguments (be what they may, hedonism, pragmatism, secularism, nihilism, relativism, and so forth).  Their faith won’t fold, but it will flex its muscle as it engages evil in the gym of evil.

A young college student who approached me last week after the service asking which apologetic books she needs to read this summer is a case study of this type of spiritual warrior.  She is, no doubt, the by-product of a family sold out to God, and she will, in her lifetime, cut deep into Satan’s kingdom, causing sin to be held in check. All of the college students who are committed to studying Revelation with us on Sunday nights at 6:30 p.m. are another case in point.  As they see what God will do in the future to reclaim this earth for His kingdom, coupled with the unsuccessful countermoves of the Devil, they will position themselves to stand sure-footed in the sinful, shifting sands of our world. Thank the Lord for them.

Our culture has gone completely off the spiritual, moral, logical rails; however, we who know God, who love His Word and apply it know there is hope because the godly children we are raising are going to bless this godless generation. Believe it. Why? It’s God’s timeless promise.

 

A second fruit is found in the next verse:

Fruit: 2: His Home Is Full Of Wealth (Psalm 112:3)

Here is how the psalmist couches this blessing of a God-fearing life:

3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.

Wealth and riches are probably a figure of speech called hendiadys wherein two coordinate terms, which are joined by the coordinating conjunction “and,” form a single concept in which one of the words better defines the other.  Huh? you ask.  What does this mean?  Here’s the answer.  “Wealth” is the Hebrew word which can be translated “sufficient.”  By using this figure of speech we get this meaning: sufficient riches belong to those who are God-fearing, spiritual law abiding folks.  I might also add that the main verb “to be,” the copula, is purposefully missing from this opening clause, serving to make it highly emphatic (‎  הוֹן־וָעֹ֥שֶׁר בְּבֵית֑וֹ ).  God, therefore, stresses the fact that wealth will come to those who walk closely with Him.

What kind of wealth? Granted, it could mean physical monies. Abraham would certainly qualify in this arena, wouldn’t he (Gen. 13:5-6)? Solomon would fit the bill, too (1 Kings 3:11-13). God has materially blessed numerous saints who feared Him; however, the fact the concept of sufficiency is wedded to “riches” tells me God promises to make sure you have enough to enjoy life.  I must say, this has certainly been true in my life, whether I was single or married. Liz and I have been faithful to God and His Word for many years, and He has always made sure we had what we needed.

One year in seminary, the seat of my Camaro  detached from the floorboard when the welds broke (from driving too fast?).  We didn’t really have the money to fix it, but God did.  He sent Liz’s doctor/dentist to us.  He called, came and picked up the car, took it to a shop and paid for a man to weld it for us.  He, then, delivered the car to us good as new, and Dr. Thieme was not even a believer!

Another way to look at this promise involves the last clause.  Here God promises to cause the righteousness of this person to stretch beyond their lifetime.  Since the entire sentence is parallelistically constructed, I think the latter clause interprets the former.  What does this mean?  It means the riches of a God-fearing life are a holiness folks will talk about in the here and now, and one which saints and angels will remember for time and eternity.  Interesting.  In eternity they won’t be talking about how many laws you overturned, how many worldviews you destroyed, how many people followed you on Twitter, how many Facebook followers you had, how anti-establishment your life was, or the like.

No.  They will talk about how your fear of God Almighty led you to live a life of obedience in disobedient times.  And in the here and now, folks will talk about how your holy life is truly a breath of fresh air in unholy times.  These are riches no one can quantify their worth.  No wonder they are a blessing, a fruit from God.

 

Third,

Fruit 3: His Life Is A Spiritual Light (Psalm 112:4)

With these verse, the author gets real by talking about how obedient Christ-followers don’t skate through life without facing issues, problems, and adversities.  Far from it:

4 Light arises in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious and compassionate and righteous

“Light” which arises “in the darkness” suggests it, or the person in question, is actually at that moment in time engulfed in darkness.  The saint here is, one again, called “upright” (Psalm 112:2. Cf. also 7:10; 11:2, 7; 25:8; 32:11; 33:1; 36:10; 37:14, 37; 49:10; 64:10; 92:16; 97:11; 107:42; 111:1).  Holladay’s Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testamentdefines this pivotal word well for us:

יִשְׁרֵי, f. יְשָׁרוֹת: — 1. straight, stretched out (opp. crooked, bent) Ez 17; — 2. level (path) Je 319; — 3–6. in ethical context: — 3. right, correct (thing): a) (path) 1S 1223; b) right in one’s own eyes 2S 197; c) in God’s eyes 1K 1133 (28 ×); — 4. right, fitting (person): a) able, qualified 2K 103, hard-working Pr 1519; b) righteous, upright Mi 72; c) sincere, honest: yišrê l¢b Ps 711; d) hayy®š¹rîm, the honest, godly Ps 331; — 5. just, righteous: a) of God Dt 324; b) of d®bar-yhwh Ps 334 &c.; — 6. what is right Jb 3327; kol-hayy®š¹râ everything straight Mi 39.[2]

A Christian is “upright” in the sense that he is morally straight and level insofar as his life is measured and lived against what God says is moral, not what he or his carnal culture says is moral.  He is not crooked in any area, be it how he views sexuality and gender to what he thinks about lying and deception.  He is not crooked, ethically speaking, because his obedience to the laser level of God’s life-giving laws makes sure he is arrow straight.  Naturally, his uprightness is pictured in the three words of the last clause.  Because his life is lived in light of God’s law, he is, by default, by nature, gracious, compassionate, and righteous when darkness descends around him.

Hence, when he encounters false teaching like his Master, Jesus did, he exposes it with the light of truth. When he is wronged because the godless are jealous of him or because they hate his holy life and speech, he, like his Master, causes light to shine by not being retaliatory.  When he encounters a person caught in sexual sin, he, like His Master, Jesus, graciously calls the person to sin no more.  When he, like his Master, Jesus, is deserted by his Christian friends at a dark, critical time in his life, he circles back later and brings light to their lives by forgiving them.

Is this you?  If you know God and walk with Him, I know it is you.  You have your share or descending darkness, don’t you?  But you are not fearful because you know your calling involves being a light-bearer for the living God. So, go forth and shine. Our wicked, wild world desperately needs you to shine.

Talk about a fruit of divine blessing.  What greater thing could be said about you than you lived a life, not of darkness, but of light, spiritual and moral light . . . even logical light . . . to all those you came in contact with?

 

A fourth fruit is easy to see on the three of this psalmist’s life:

Fruit 4: He Is Not Stingy (Psalm 112:5)

The hands of a blessed, God-fearing person are open, not closed. He is no Grinch. He is not tight-fisted with his cash. No, he is not holding tightly to possessions, to money, to investments, or to anything of worth.  On the contrary, he loosely holds onto the materialistic things God has entrusted to him, while looking for opportunity to bless those who are not as fortunate.  Once more, the psalmist puts it all so well:

5 It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; he will maintain his cause in judgment.

Need a table for guests, a tool for a project and the God-fearing man is right there for you.  Most of the time, you don’t even have to ask him.  He sees your need, sends you a text message, email, or a phone call and offers to loan you what you need.  And if you are short on cash, he will also lend to you . . .  and it probably won’t come with a hefty interest rate either.  In fact, it probably won’t even have an interest rate at all.  You will just hear him say, “Here is the money you need.  Just pay me back when you get an opportunity so I can bless others in the future.”

Have you been the recipient of this type of saint? I have.  When a storm snapped off the top of a massive tulip poplar in my yard years ago, leaving me with branches and destruction all over the place, the next thing I knew about fifteen men from the Men’s Ministry showed up with chainsaws and other tools.  A few hours later the mess was cleared.  You know, God’s face smiles upon those who graciously step in and help others.  Do you have this fruit on your life’s tree?

The closing clause tells us how this person functions: “He will maintain his cause in judgment.”  What does this mean?  I think some clarification comes from the NIV translation, “who conduct their affairs with justice.”  Applied to a person who is a gracious giver/lender, I think it means they look for just situations to step in and help, but they assess what is going on before they do. For instance, if my neighbor has a flat on a given morning, that is one thing, especially if he is a grown, strong man.  If, however, my neighbor is a 78-year-old widow who is recovering from knee surgery, then a godly person with a cause for giving will use prudent judgment to assess the situation and then step up and in to alleviate the need.

A saint who has this fruit hanging on his tree is going to rightfully stick out in our self-absorbed, too-bad-for-you, or I’m-too-busy world.  May folks with this fruit increase for as they do the gospel of Christ becomes even more lovely.

 

Fifth,

Fruit 5: He Is Stable (Psalm 112:6-8)

These words are most needed in the tumultuous times in which we live.

6 For he will never be shaken; the righteous will be remembered forever. 7 He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is upheld, he will not fear, until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries.

Collectively, these informative verses teach us how a God-fearing person is immovable, unflappable, and sure-footed as they move through the ups and downs of life.

  • Life events, be what they may, won’t cause them to lose their spiritual footing. A doctor’s unfavorable diagnosis will not trip them up because they know God is sovereign and in total control.An aggressive and ruthless sales colleague who wants your job won’t cause you to slip and fall because you know God’s hand is on your life.  Along these lines think of Esther and Mordecai.
  • Evil news, wicked and perverse tidings can, and will, come you’re his way, but you’re not afraid. Why? You fear God, not what man can do to him.So a commanding officer has it out for you, seemingly working overtime to truncate your career because you are a godly person.  You need not fear him for God is with you.  He’s the one who should be fearful for he is messing with God’s saint. So the school system wants you to push an ideology you can’t embrace as a Christian.  You need not fear for the God of truth is on your side and He will go before you to make the crooked path straight.  In the meantime, you just stand your ground on truth and don’t budge.

You get the drill, I’m sure.  The man who fears God and obeys His holy Word never has a viable reason to fear ANYTHING the godless propose to do to him.  Why? God is for him, not against him, but God IS against those who are committed to make the saint lose his footing.  Since all of this is true, you stand sure-footed as you hike downs life’s sometimes challenging trail.

 

Sixth,

Fruit 6: He Is A Giver, Not A Getter (Psalm 112: 9)

One word defines this kind of God-fearing person: generosity:

9 He has given freely to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; his horn will be exalted in honor.

To those who have natural, simple needs he lends.  To those who are destitute and truly needy, he gives with no strings attached. The Hebrew here for “given freely” more precisely means to scatter, as if he is throwing monies at the needs he sees in the field of life. All of this, of course, suggests he has so properly managed his financial life he has monies to employ in the lives of the less fortunate around him.  He is not concerned with storing up more than he can use in a life time, but in giving it away to those who are in difficult, dire situations. If you’d like to read more about living a life of generosity, I’d direct you to Dave Ramsey’s helpful book The Legacy Journey.

I apologize, but I’m not going to give you examples of a saint who lives like this.  Why?  I don’t want them to lose their reward, nor do I want to lose any of my rewards. All of this certainly reflects the counsel of our Lord:

2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matt. 6).

The point is this:  When you fear God, you will keep His commands, and part of those commands are to touch the lives of the less fortunate.  Show me a godly, maturing Christian and I’ll show you a person who knows what generosity is all about.

And here is a cool thing we learn from the Psalmist:

His righteousness endures forever; his horn will be exalted in honor.

What does this seemingly cryptic promise mean?  Dr. Allen Ross opens the meaning up for us when he states:

Not only will people remember his generosity, but his acts could also set different things in motion that will continue from age to age. No one can foresee the long-range effect of generous acts of righteousness.

Wow.  A generous action here can, and will, echo down the halls of time as God blesses that one action to His glory.  Give Him praise.  Hallelujah!

 

Lastly,

Fruit 7: He Knows He Is A Victor (Psalm 112:10)

At this juncture, the Psalmist moves from positive words about the God-fearer to negative ones about the God-rejector:

10 The wicked will see it and be vexed; he will gnash his teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked will perish.

What will the wicked see?  They will see a godly person in action when you live a God-fearing life. They will sense and see your peace.  They will see God opening and closing doors so you can move forward.  They will be absolutely undone by the power of your righteous acts and words, so much so they will be vexed.  Translated, they will lie awake at night wondering why their wickedness is not prevailing, and why your righteousness is stayed and steady. They will become so frustrated with how you live a holy, peaceful, truthful life in unholy, chaotic, truth-less times they will gnash their teeth at you. Think of someone snarling at you and you just connected with the Psalmist.  The picture is of a person full of rage because of who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe (or don’t believe).  You so exasperate them they can eventually do nothing but angrily gnash at you with their teeth . . . probably just after they said a choice words to you, as well.

You, on the other hand, you don’t grit your teeth, you grin.  Why?  You know you are a victor, not a victim. You know the time of evil will one day be up and righteousness will reign.  Just as the Scriptures teach:

35 The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil. 36 And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned (Matt. 12).

 

In light of all of this, give God some praise today for blessing your life because you reverence and follow Him.