Do me a favor and please read Psalm 112.
This psalm works well with the previous psalm in that they are both acrostic (each line works through the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet) and both speak of the “fear of the Lord.” But really this psalm is seen as the next line from the ending of Psalm 111 (you can find my meanderings on that psalm here). The biggest difference however is that this text is considered a “wisdom psalm” as it encourages the reader/hearer with a guidance of praises and reasons TO praise God. So whatever you have been given and in all of life: praise God.
As we read this psalm we notice that verses 1-9 are very positive for the believer while verse 10 speaks of those who do NOT believe and the envy they have of the believer. So believe, worship, and fear the Lord and you will have wealth, riches, and a plethora of goodness in your life…while the nonbeliever gets annoyed, confused, and longs for your life but will walk away with nothing. And why? Because longing and desiring BRINGS YOU nothing. It is only God who gives, delivers, and hands down his blessings to his believing children who walk and delight in his commands (vs 1).
Is that how life works for you? I know for me that many of these words hit their mark but not all of them and some of them I don’t even know what to do with.
- “Mighty in the land” (2) – I’m not sure what that even means for me.
- “Wealth and riches in their houses” (3) – Can we redefine “wealth” and “riches” please? I’m a pastor and my wife works for the local school and while we are absolutely blessed to have what we have…and we have plenty… “wealth” and “riches” are NOT building up our bank accounts.
- “Surely the righteous will never be shaken” (6a) – I’m not even sure where to go with that one. My faith hasn’t been shaken…yet (and I’m not sure if that should be a statement or question) but I know some very God-fearing faithful Christians who have had their lives shaken in many different ways.
- “…they will be remembered forever” (6b) – why does that even matter?
- “They will have no fear of bad news” (7) – uhh…clearly this psalmist has either never HAD bad news delivered or their tolerance for “bad news” is REALLY high because they have been through a ton in their life!
- “in the end they will look in triumph on their foes” (8b) – I’m not sure I have any “foes”…nor do I ever use that word.
- “The wicked will see and be vexed…longings of the wicked will come to nothing.” (vs 10) – Yeah this whole verse leaves me confused as all I see is the wicked prospering, getting what they want, longing and receiving all they desire. And while in the end they “waste away” they know it already.
So what are we supposed to do with all of this?
First, we must always remember context and voice. We have to allow the author’s voice to be what it is and stand for what they say (whether we understand it or not) but also we have to come back to context. There simply was a different way of life back then. People sought different things, desired different things, and understood things differently than today. Wealth and prosperity looked and felt different. Having your name “remembered” was important, as was the reality of “foes” and having dignity amongst the people. So while we may not be able to understand their voice we still can understand their hope and comfort. And it is there that we can find our own voice. So if we go back to the intention and thought of this psalm (in that it is a response from the very last line of the previous psalm) then we can find our own encouragement to give God “eternal praise.” (111:10)
For the psalmist that “eternal praise” hits him/her with all the things they see and experience in life. Children and namesake, wealth and riches, light and darkness, conducting affairs with justice, good news and bad news…all of life is simply one giant praise. And one thing that I think we may overlook is that the psalmist declares we should “praise” God “eternally.” That is a praise without end or beginning. That is a praise that lasts forever and then beyond. This is a praise that encompasses ALL of our lives and then beyond it and beyond the beyond.
I desire to eternally praise God because I do have “wealth and riches.” I may not be able to add much to my bank account after each paycheck but I have plenty and we are able to do things as a family and support our kids in their desires. We have a “wealth” and “richness” of laughter, joy, hope, and comfort in our house. We are able to have enough so that we can have people over and feed them and do life with them too. Am I rich financially? No…but I am abundantly wealthy and rich in what I’ve been given.
To be honest, there is a lot of other things in this text that I’m still personally working through but that doesn’t mean I won’t praise God for what he’s given to me or the promises he’s delivered (those fulfilled and those waiting to be fulfilled)…and that’s where I think we need to land. “Eternal praise” doesn’t mean only praise when things are good or praise more when things are bad…it simply means never ceasing, never ending, and always praising. Because regardless of where I am or what is being done…God still is. And because God still is he will always bestow blessings upon his children.