Psalm 112

The Blessings of the Righteous

How has God blessed you in this life?

While we might hate to admit it, we do measure the blessings of the God in the present life. This notion cuts against what we were taught by the Gospels, but we naturally measure God’s goodness by what we experience. How do I know God loves me? Look at my house, my car, or my checkbook. Look at my good-looking spouse, my attractive, successful children, my wide range of friends. Don’t the “televangelists” wear the expensive suits, the jewelry and the trophy spouse? Why shouldn’t I?

Of course, this is a short sighted, immature measure of God’s blessings. His providence stretches far beyond the material and the visible. His expectations demand much more of us than pride of ownership. The blessed may or may not have wealth, family, or reputation. But they do have one thing in common: a call to right living, an invitation to share blessings freely with others. This insight is at the heart of Psalm 112. In this way, one’s righteousness, a true blessing of God, will last forever.

1 Alleluia!
Blessed is the man who fears YHWH,
who delights greatly in his commandments.
2 His seed will be mighty in the land.
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in his house.
His righteousness endures forever.

World English Bible

Psalm 112:1-3 defined the blessed in the Hebrew community. The blessed was the faithful, prayerful man who experienced the fruits of the Abrahamic covenant. He was prolific and counted his wealth within his family (whether he had possessions or not). His faithfulness to his Torah duties and his reputation lived beyond his death, not only through his clan, but also through the will of God.

4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright,
gracious, merciful, and righteous.
5 It is well with the man who deals graciously and lends.
He will maintain his cause in judgment.
6 For he will never be shaken.
The righteous will be remembered forever.

The presence of YHWH (the light of 112:4a) showed the way with “gracious, merciful, and righteous.” So the blessed were called to give graciously, as God gives. The imitation of the divine maintained one’s call for judgment and his demeanor. Not only God’s blessing, but the blessed self-giving was a reason for his eternal remembrance.

7 He will not be afraid of evil news.
His heart is steadfast, trusting in YHWH.
8 His heart is established.
He will not be afraid in the end when he sees his adversaries.
9 He has dispersed, he has given to the poor.
His righteousness endures forever.
His horn will be exalted with honor.

112:7-9 recapitulated the themes of 112:4-6: an inner peace based in a trust of God, calm in the face of adversaries, and a generous heart. Not only would the righteous man be remembered forever, his reputation would be truly honored (his call through a ram’s horn would proclaim the man’s true character).

10 The wicked will see it, and be grieved.
He shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away.
The desire of the wicked will perish.

112:10 was the counter theme to the rest of the psalm. The righteous, the man who placed his faith in YHWH and gave freely to others, would stand with God. The selfish who denied God and others would see only misery; their plans and deeds would come to naught.

Clearly, this psalm was written before the concept of the resurrection took root in Judaism. But the immorality of one’s reputation foreshadowed the belief in eternal life with God. Such a life is the ultimate blessing, far greater than mere standing in the memory of others. 

How do you see your blessings from God? Are they the blessings that will last through eternity?