Unafraid of bad news

Slices

Prepare

Bring your doubts to the Lord. Ask that he would teach you through them.

Bible passage

Psalm 112

Praise the Lord.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
    who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures for ever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered for ever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
    their righteousness endures for ever;
    their horn will be lifted high in honour.

10 The wicked will see and be vexed,
    they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
    the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

Boat on shore

Explore

Do you ever wonder why you started following Christ? Is it worth it? I have friends in countries where following Christ actually puts them in danger. Such doubts are understandable. Psalm 112 parallels Psalm 111. In the original Hebrew these psalms together form an ‘acrostic’ (each line begins with a different letter). However, where Psalm 111 is focused on God, this focuses on believers.

Verses 1,10. The psalm is ‘bookend-ed’ by a contrast: ‘those who fear the Lord’ and those who don’t (vs 1,10). We fear him when we recognise his holiness, authority and power. That sends us to our knees in dependence and fills our hearts with his praises. Without this, we are in real peril (see Ephesians 2:1–3).

Verses 2,3. ‘Blessing’ describes the wonder of being sustained by God’s goodness, enables those who fear him to flourish and always impacts on those around us. What results from blessing here?

Verses 4–9. There is a security at the heart of the upright. How else would generosity and graciousness be possible? This blessing is never selfcentred. In verses 6–8 the roots of that security are unpacked. What makes this confidence possible?

But here’s a problem: many believers suffer cruelty, deprivation and injustice. They hardly seem blessed. The key is thetimescale: verses 3 and 9 (righteousness for ever); verse 6 (remembered for ever). This enables endurance.

Author
Mark Meynell

Respond

Pray for that perspective and ‘Praise the Lord’ for it (v 1).

Deeper Bible study

Blest are the pure in heart, / for they shall see our God; / the secret of the Lord is theirs, / their soul is Christ’s abode.’1

Do we expect the blessings this psalm promises? We are reading Ephesians. Paul is in chains, perhaps already martyred. Unimaginable persecution and suffering lie in the church’s immediate future. How do we read this psalm of confidence in a God who blesses those who ‘find great delight’ in God’s commands (v 1)? How do we read this psalm which asserts that God blesses those who ‘fear’ him with wealth and riches (vs 1–3)? How do we read this psalm which proclaims that the ‘righteous’ (v 6) have nothing to fear in life and will triumph over their foes (v 8)? How do we read this psalm which announces the demise of the wicked whose evil plans will be frustrated (v 10)? There are simple equations here: doing right = a good life, doing wrong = a bad life. However, the maths does not seem to add up. The consequences of choosing right or wrong do not seem evident in this life. Some psalmists envied the good life of ‘the wicked’.2 ‘… why does the way of the wicked prosper?’, asked Jeremiah.3

We can only read this psalm in the light of God’s eternity. Reversing the simplistic Old Testament equation, Jesus pronounced those people blessed whom the world would consider unfortunate4 – but he did this from the perspective of the present and future reign of God. Our ‘treasure’ is not stored on this earth, said Jesus, but in an eternal future.5 The writer of Ephesians portrayed the vast perspective from which God views history, beginning before creation and continuing in God’s eternity. That is God’s arithmetic and it adds up. It is only on that vast canvas that justice and injustice, the consequences of right and wrong, are being played out. 

God of our future, help us to look beyond the pains of this life and fix our gaze on your eternity, where true blessing is found, in and through Jesus. 

1 John Keble, 1792–1866  2Ps 73:3–14  3Jer 12:1  4Matt 5:3–12  5Matt 6:19–21 

Author
John Harris

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year: Mark 2; Psalm 89

Pray for Scripture Union

Please pray that God will provide Scripture Union Angola with people who can train them in making Bible guides and cards, so that next year they will be able to produce these themselves. Pray also for a greater exchange of knowledge between them and other national movements.

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