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 forever.
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 forever.
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 forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
The wicked will see and be vexed,
they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing. (NIV)
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “Thy will be done, Thy kingdom come.” Jesus has given us a summary of this psalm. The Torah outlines God’s will for how we live. When we live by the teachings of Psalm 112, we are living God’s will; God’s teachings in the Torah. If we would live by the Ten Commandments and the spirit of the teachings in the Torah, God’s reign would be evident on earth and life would be good.
First thing to notice about this psalm is that the subject is “the righteous vs the unrighteous” (aka the wicked). This is separating the sheep from the goats, so to speak, but it isn’t for the sake of being judgmental or self-righteous for those who find themselves on the good side. It is for the sake of self-discipline and self-improvement. This is the self-help literature of the biblical age. This is so you can know how to live so that you find yourself on the good side.
One chapter of Stephen Covey’s best-seller self-help/leadership book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” was entitled “Begin With the End in Mind.” He opened it with a vignette of a man in a casket and considering what the people who had gathered would be saying about him. He admonished his readers to live their lives so that the people gathered at their funeral would have only positive things to say about them. This psalm is built on the same idea… If you want your life to turn out this way, these are the things you have to think about now. It is never too early to consider how you want your life to turn out.
If you want to be blessed, (ie happy, peaceful, and secure with a sense of belonging and that life is meaningful) then you would be wise to pay good attention to Torah; God’s direction and instruction. Take delight in learning it inside and out. Make reflecting on it the most important part of your day. Let it infuse everything you do. Make no decision without running it through the filter of God’s good will and purpose (as displayed by Torah.)
If you want the next generation to be strong and stable, so that you don’t have to worry about what will happen in the future, so you can rest easy in your old age, then you would do well to live an upright life and set a good example. In other words, follow the Torah. Live as God intended us to live in relation to God, the people around us and the world God made. If you teach them well, they will know how to live. They will know how to raise their kids. They will be good citizens and remember their heritage.
The next couplet is a little ambiguous. I am convinced that is by design, not by neglect. It starts with “Wealth and riches are in their houses” Is that monetary wealth? A wealth of sons and daughters? A warm and loving family? Is it riches of health and strength? I would say “Yes. Yes to any and all.” That is how it can be true for different people in different situations and different life stages. Now remember, the psalmist is not describing nor prescribing a transactional relationship with God. This is an observation that if you live in such a way that you are honorable in all your dealings, you will most likely see a positive result. They would have had a different example in the psalmists day, but I am going to describe it in our context: If you are in business and you sell your product for a fair price, with enough of a margin in it to pay your employees well and you do, but not so much that you are taking advantage of your customers; if you make a good quality product that has value and you stand behind your product, provide good service to your customers, when something is wrong you make it right; then you will have a strong business and a good living from it. That will pay off in the long run. You won’t give yourself ulcers or tension headaches from trying to do too much. You won’t have to wrestle with your conscience. You will have loyal employees who seek the wellbeing of your business. You will have good work-life balance. Life will be good.
You get the idea. The person who lives by God’s design—in right relationship with all—will be a force to be reckoned with; a person who will be admired in society and looked up to in the family. When both those near you and those outside your inner circle see goodness and truth when they look at you… you know you are doing something right. You are resilient. You will not be permanently knocked down (shaken) by stuff that happens. You will be able to handle it. You will move on. You will know what to leave behind and what to take with you. That’s what I want for you—that you will be steady and live without fear. I want you to be confident that no matter what happens, you and yours will be able to handle it. You will not be debilitated even when there is a lot to worry about.
Remember, this is all in contrast to the wicked. There will be those who will be jealous of your success. As Saint Mother Teresa says, be successful anyway. There will be those who mock your goodness and call it weakness. Don’t be fooled. Be good anyway. In the end, they will be angry about realizing they got it wrong, that they put their energy into what will not satisfy in the long run. They will try to take it out on you, but you can be secure in knowing that underneath it all, it isn’t about you. They are angry at and disappointed in themselves. Their words and actions may hurt for the moment, but let them slide off you like an egg off a teflon skillet.
The thing is, a steady diet of anger and jealousy cannot sustain a person. It will show their true colors in the long run. The psalmist puts it this way “they will gnash their teeth and waste away.” They will spend their energy on regrets and they will fade into insignificance. Don’t let that be you.
No. Live your life well. Take in the big picture—to live in harmony with all, and life will be good. You will be blessed. Nothing can take that from you.
Thy will be done, O Lord. Thy kingdom will come.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.