June 18: Psalm 112

Iain D Campbell

Sometimes I think that the Book of Psalms is like a portrait gallery, full of pictures and portraits. Sometimes there are portraits of God, sometimes of Christ. Sometimes, too, there are portraits of the believer - such as we have in Psalm 112.

What does a godly man look like? Is there something about the way he dresses that shows he is a Christian? Can you tell it in his face? Is it the kind of house he possesses, or the kind of car he drives?

If you look closely at the portrait of the believer in the gallery of the Psalms, there are two things that are true about him: he fears the Lord, and he delights in his commandments (Ps 112:1). He is not afraid of darkness (v4) or of bad news (v7); but he does fear the Lord. He has an instinctive awareness of the immensity, grandeur and holiness of God, and he is in awe of that God.

And for that same reason, he reads God's laws, and they are his delight. Other portraits in this gallery say the same thing (Psalm 1, Psalm 119:16). The commandments of God are not heavy and burdensome: they are a delight to the believer. His lack of obedience to them is a burden; but the law itself is like honey to him. Paul was very conscience of his inability to keep God's law, but saw in the holy commandment something that was good and that was delightful (Romans 7:12,22).

This is the man who is BLESSED. He stands in a unique, covenant relation with God. As a consequence, the blessing of God is on his family, his possessions and his soul. He is rich, his children are strong, and his righteousness endures forever (2-3).

But lest anyone think this psalm is a version of the health and wealth gospel, let's look more closely at the portrait. What does this man do with his wealth? He gives it all away! He lends freely (v5) and scatters his gifts to the poor (v9). Is he exempt from trouble? No - sometimes he gets bad news, but he is not afraid, because his trust is in the Lord (v7).

Being a believer is not a recipe for getting rich or being happy. It is a recipe for loving God and loving others, for meeting needs and trusting to Christ, for living among men and circumstances with quiet, resigned commitment to the will of our Father in Heaven, who works everything together for the good of his people (Romans 8:28). And while wicked men will see their dreams evaporate, blessed men will know God's favour in this life as well as in the next.

William Perkins was right. Theology is nothing but the science of living blessedly forever. I wonder whether this psalm is a portrait of ourselves?