The Twelfth Decade of Psalms
This psalm is part of a matched set, together with the previous one. Both this psalm and Ps. 111 are alphabetic psalms, with each portion beginning with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet. As a consequence, the two psalms are right around the same length, and there are frequent echoes between them. The theme of the former is the glory of God, and the theme of the latter is the glory of God as reflected in the life of the godly man.
“Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever . . .” (Ps. 112:1-10).
Summary of the Text:
So what is the godly man like? How does God bless him? First we must define the godly man. He is the man who fears God, and this is to be understood as someone who delights in God’s commandments (v. 1). Notice that this is no servile obedience, but rather a delighted obedience. Not only will he be blessed, but so shall his descendants be—his seed shall be mighty (v. 2). His house will gather in wealth, and his righteousness will continue (v. 3). The upright, though in the darkness for a time, will see the sun rise (v. 4). He is a gracious man, compassionate, and righteous (v. 4). He is generous and open-handed. He lends (v. 5). A neighbor who borrows all the time is a perfect nuisance, but we also need to compare him to the tight-fisted guy on the other side who is just like him. He is a perfect nuisance also. But at the same time, this generous man is shrewd (v. 5). He will be a permanent fixture in God’s story. He shall not be moved forever. Remember Abraham? He lived in tents, and the story of his faithfulness will be told to the end of the world. Have you seen the pyramids? Great monuments to “we’re not even sure who that was” (v. 6). Ungodly pharaohs built durable monuments to their own anonymity. But the righteous man? Rising trouble does not trouble him. He is courageous. His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord (v. 7). His heart is established. He shall not fear, and he will see his enemies dealt with (v. 8). Again he is open-handed, not tight-fisted. Notice that this is mentioned twice. His righteousness goes on forever, and his horn shall be exalted (v. 9). This blessing that envelops the righteous man is something that grieves the wicked (v. 10). The wicked will gnash their teeth at him, for all the good it will do. Like a slug on the sidewalk, the wicked will melt away, and their only monument will be the slimy trail they leave behind.
Who is this Righteous Man?
The first thing we must note, and note it firmly, is that there has only been one person who met this description perfectly—the Lord Jesus. He gathers wealth (v. 3), and Jesus is the heir of all things (Heb. 1:2). He is open-handed and generous (vv. 5, 9). The Lord is the one who brings salvation to the world in order to give it away. His heart is fixed when trouble arises (v. 7). The Lord set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51)—like flint (Is. 50:7). This description of the godly man is therefore a description of the perfect man, and we all know who the only perfect man was.
The Path of Imitation
At the same time, we are called by our name of Christian to be followers of Christ. We are to imitate God (Eph. 5:1). We are to copy the Lord. We are summoned to imitate more mature believers as they imitate Christ (1 Cor. 4:16; 1 Cor. 11:1). We are to imitate the saints as their lives are described for us in Scripture (Heb. 6:12).
And as we imitate the Lord, we must also keep an eye on the astonishing promises that were given to Him. Imitating the Lord means imitating His expectations also, and His expectations were grounded firmly in what God had promised Him. These promises are ours also, but they are only ours in Christ.
No Wooden Imitation
This psalm, taken by itself and interpreted in isolation, could lend itself to a “health and wealth” doctrine. But remember what you have been taught—God’s servants, the ones we are told to imitate, were saints who overcame great obstacles (Heb. 11:33-35a) and who also endured severe persecution and hardship (Heb. 11:35b-38). And remember that the Lord Jesus Himself has inherited every form of wealth that there is, but that the path to His kingdom of fabulous wealth was a path that went to the cross, wound down through the grave, descended to Hades, and up again to the throne room of the Ancient of Days. God did place universal dominion into His hands, but they were pierced hands.
In Christ Himself
Now Scripture teaches us that we have been given all things because we belong to Christ, and Christ has been given all things.
“Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours” (1 Cor. 3:21–22).
Think of it this way. We are the body of Christ. When He extends His hands to receive what His Father is giving Him, we are those hands. When He walks the earth to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth, we are those feet.
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22–23).
God has placed all things under His feet—and in the same breath He tells us that we are those feet. The Lord has inherited all the things promised in this psalm, and throughout all Scripture, and learning that this is true can be quite a heady experience. But if we are His feet, and all things are His footstool, we have to remember that the feet on that footstool are pierced feet. If the Father has placed universal dominion into His hands, and we are those hands, recall that the hands are pierced. If we are the bride of Christ, as we most certainly are, remember that the new Eve was taken from the side of Christ just as our first mother was taken from the side of Adam. If we are His bride, all that He has belongs to us—because we were taken from His pierced side (John 19:34-35).
We may glory in this, and indeed we must glory in it. But we must glory in the full story.