Psalm 112 (NIV)
1 Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.
2 His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures for ever.
4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.
5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.
6 Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered for ever.
7 He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
9 He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures for ever; his horn will be lifted high in honour.
10 The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
If only we could live in confidence that this psalm depicted the reality of our lives. Regrettably the world it describes is very different from the one we know. We see bad things happening to good people. Good, kind, decent people suffer. People suffer because of the malicious words or actions of other human beings; people contract illness undeservedly; people are exposed to the violence or harshness of the natural world. War, disease, disaster – these consume the lives, the health, the vitality of gentle and generous people just as readily as of those people the psalmist calls “wicked”.
The psalmist would have us believe that the fear of the LORD and consequential obedience to his commands are all that are required for good to prevail. Droughts, floods, conflict, corruption, lawlessness; all contribute to human misery. If the “wicked man” were to be the only one reaping misery because of what he has done, we’d perhaps feel much more comfortable about the situation. But so often it is the vulnerable and apparently innocent person who suffers.
Could the psalmist be writing then about a different reality? Is this psalm describing not the time we spend on earth but some subsequent existence? Is the state of being blessed a present state that will receive the full extent of the blessings only in life in the world to come? There is a hint in these verses: “his righteousness endures forever” (3), “he will be remembered forever” (6) and “in the end he will look in triumph on his foes” (8).
The fear of the LORD extolled in verse 1 differs from the fear mentioned later in the psalm: the one who fears the LORD “will have no fear of bad news” (verse 7) nor fear of anything else – because “his heart is secure” (verse 8). The Godward orientation of a steadfast heart, “trusting in the LORD” (verse 7b), trusts not in a hoped-for turn of events but in God himself.
This then is the key: we are to fear the LORD, to trust in the LORD, regardless of what is happening around us. We are to trust in what, for the present, may remain unseen and not fear what, so obviously, is contrary to God’s commands in this world.
“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is secure, he will have no fear …” (verses 7, 8a).