Monday, October 26, 2009

Divine Portrait of Prosperity: Psalm 112

Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.
(Psalm 112:1)
“Blessed” speaks of great happiness and bliss. What is the cause of such an exceedingly happy condition? The fear of the Lord, and delighting in His commandments.

The fear of the Lord speaks of living in supreme awe of Him. It is loving what He loves and hating what He hates. It is recognizing that His displeasure is greatly to be avoided but His favor is greatly to be desired. To delight in something is to have a desire for it, to take pleasure in it. Here, it is modified by the word “greatly,” which speaks of exceeding abundance, completeness, and diligence. This delight, desire and pleasure is wholehearted and intense. When we start to understand how awesome God is, how great His love and how marvelous His favor, we begin to take intense pleasure in His ways — and that leads to bliss, as this psalm describes.

What does the fear of the Lord look like in the everyday life of a person who has it?
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion. (vv. 4-5)

His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (v. 7)

He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor. (v. 9)
  • He has received grace and favor from the Lord, so he shows grace and favor to others.
  • He has experienced compassion and mercy from God, so he knows how to extend compassion and mercy to others.
  • He is not stingy with what is his, but generously lends to others.
  • He shows good judgment in all his dealings. The HCSB has, “conducts his business fairly.” He makes sound business decisions that are equitable and promote what is good.
  • His trust is in the Lord and he lets that settle all the worries and concerns of his heart.
  • He not only lends freely, He gives generously to the poor. The Hebrew for “disperse” literally means to scatter. He understands the paradox of Proverbs 11:24, “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.”
That’s a short sketch of how the fear of the Lord gets lived out. Now, let’s take a brief look at what the prosperity of such a person looks like.
  • “His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed’ (v. 2). His descendants will receive a spiritual inheritance that, if they will follow it, will lead them into a life of blessing, abundance and significance.
  • “Wealth and riches will be in his house, and his righteousness endures forever” (v. 3). Because he is making good decisions and doing what is right, which leads to prosperity, prosperity will fill his house. The results of living well will endure for the next generations. As Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.”
  • “Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness” (v. 4). This does not mean that he will never have to go through dark times (or poor economies), but that when he does, there will light to lead him through it to the other side. The surrounding darkness will not cause him to fear because he is focused on the light that comes from the Lord.
  • “Good will come to a man who lends generously” (v. 5, HCSB). Because he does what is good, goodness comes back to him. It is the principle of sowing and reaping. Jesus put it this way, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). This is not just about money, as some think, but about how we deal with each other in general: When we show goodness to others, it will come back around to us.
  • “Surely he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance” (v. 6). Living in awe of God brings him into a place of stability. There may be earthquakes, but when the dust clears, he will still be standing. He will have a testimony and the significance of his life will remain.
  • “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord” (v. 7). Bad news, failing economies, and financial disasters will not strike fear in him because his life and prosperity — his blessing — is founded upon God. His focus and trust are in the Lord.
  • “His heart is established; he will not be afraid until he sees his desire upon his enemies” (v. 8; the HCSB has, “In the end he will look in triumph on his foes”). He does not focus his heart on the adversarial circumstances that surround him, but on the Lord. He does not fear when leaders forecast gloom or threaten catastrophe. The peace of his heart is settled on God and nothing can disturb the calm state of his soul.
  • “His righteousness endures forever; his horn will be exalted with honor” (v. 9). His influence and honor will increase and the effect of living God’s way will continue to make him a blessing to others.
  • “The wicked will see it and be grieved; he will gnash his teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked shall perish” (v. 10). The wicked are those who are at odds with God’s way of doing things. Great blessing will come to those who live in awe of Him and walk in His ways, but for the wicked there is only grief, despair and frustration of purpose. They will fade away, therefore do not let your heart be troubled by them.
The psalm writer gives us just some of what it means to live in awe and delight of God and to know His prosperity. Jesus puts it all very succinctly: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

The blessing of a divinely peaceful and prosperous life follows from living in awe of the Lord and walking in His ways.

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