The Blessings of Benevolence: A Study of Psalm 112
Author: Andy Robbins
Do me a favor. If you have a Bible handy, grab it and read the entire chapter of Psalm 112. It’s short. If you like, copy and paste this post to a Word document and print it off and take it somewhere with your Bible where you can meditate on it. I think this is going to excite you. Please read that chapter before you read anymore of this post.
Are you done? Okay, let’s break this down verse by verse.
Verse 1 opens up the chapter by expressing praise to God. Why? Well, God deserves praise for many reasons, but the second half of verse one expresses the reason for the first half. God is to be praised because He blesses those who fear Him and take delight in His commands. That very first verse speaks volumes.
Who is blessed of the Lord? People who attend church regularly and sing hymns and homeschool their children and eat organic homemade food? Not necessarily. It is the person who FEARS God, who serves Him without compromise, who has a reverential respect for Him, lives in His service, and maintains a high degree of awe of Him. And that fear is not complete without having a reverence and love for His Word. The person who is blessed of God loves God’s Word, feeds on it night and day (re: Psalms 1:1), and delights in doing what it says.
People like that will walk in such wisdom and be blessed such that even their children will walk in the favor of God. Verse 2 says that his children will be “mighty in the land,” or have influence and honor. We all want good things for our children, and God’s promise is that if we delight ourselves in His Word and teach it to our children, He will bless our children as well.
Now, verse three is where traditionalists can get a little rankled. It says that “wealth and riches are in his house.” God promises monetary blessings on the person who delights in His Word and fears Him. “Well, Andy, surely that’s talking about spiritual blessings.” I believe that’s true, too. But the context of this passage is talking about monetary blessings. This is evident by the fact that it says in a later verse that the righteous man will use some of those monetary blessings to “scatter abroad his gifts to the poor.” That generosity is one ingredient of how he got rich in the first place. Hey, don’t get mad at me if this rocks your boat a little. I didn’t say it. God did! You’ll have to take it up with Him.
The latter half of verse 3 says that his righteousness endures forever. In other words, this man’s good reputation will go before him always and will endure even when he is dead and gone.
For this generous, God-fearing, Word-loving man, even dark, troubled times will not overtake him. Verse 4 says that even in the darkness light arises for him. He will be sustained even when it looks like trouble might overtake him (see also Psalm 41:1-3), and even when others are failing and collapsing, this man will thrive! A bad economy won’t ruin him, and neither will famine or war or an outbreak of disease. God’s favor sustains and protects him.
Why? Because this man has an abundant increase of the favor of God because of his generosity (“graciousness”) and compassion and righteousness, according to the second half of verse 4. And verse 5 continues that thought. It says that good will come to him because he is generous and lends “freely” (i.e. without charging interest), and conducts all his affairs with justice. In other words, he never cheats anyone. Because he is honest and fair and generous and benevolent, God’s favor rests upon him and good continually comes back to him. He will never be shaken, says verse 6.
This man is also full of faith, because verse 7 says that he doesn’t fear bad news. He knows God will take care of him even in uncertain times. “His heart is confident, trusting in the Lord.” Even when people rise up against him, his heart is still assured and he still does not fear, because verse 8 says that in the end he will look with triumph on his foes.
Yes, even in uncertain times, he continues to distribute his gifts freely to the poor, and he is lifted high in honor (verse 9).
Those that oppose him – the wicked – will observe all this and be vexed to the point of gnashing their teeth. All they can do is slink away in defeat as their desires come to nothing (verse 10).
I hope what you get out of this is that God is not out to get you. He does not want you to have to learn your character lessons the hard way in the school of hard knocks. He wants your primary lessons to be learned through His Word! Of course, if you are not a diligent student of the Word, then one of the the only other tools God has at His disposal to teach you is the hardships of wrong choices. He wants His Word to be your guide, not your bad choices. Religious tradition has taught us that God will knock your teeth out once in a while in order to teach you character, and that you can never really be assured of His protection or His benevolence. Well, I think the writer of Psalm 112 would have something to say about that, wouldn’t you? Now, there ARE conditions to meet in order to reach a level of blessing described in this chapter, but the rewards for meeting those conditions are unmistakably clear.
I agree that we all experience hardship from time to time, and as Christians we are expected to endure persecution for our faith. So I know that difficulty is part of the Christian experience. But I don’t believe we are supposed to live like that continually. Just as the man in Psalm 112 was described as having experienced times of darkness, it also says that light arises for him even in the midst of that darkness.
So we don’t have to panic when things seem to go south on us. That old saying that things get darkest just before the dawn is true, but I think it’s ONLY true for those who persevere and don’t bail out on continuing to do good even during times of uncertainty. In fact, that is the very time to get aggressive about your giving.
In ’06 I experienced the worst year of business I ever had since joining my firm 13 years before. My wife, Donna, was expecting our third child and we were building a house 40 minutes away, doing much of the inside work ourselves. As you can imagine, I was very distracted. I didn’t have the kind of focus on my job that I once had, and I had even lost my focus on being in God’s Word and giving. We were continuing to give, but we weren’t maintaining our commitment to increase our giving, even though our income had increased. By March of that year my salary was reduced by $1,500 per month, and my business was completely flat. My boss was putting some very uncomfortable pressure on me, which only made my mental state worse.
So what did we do? Did we decide to reduce our giving? No way! We kept our level of giving exactly where it was even though my salary was reduced. And things still didn’t turn around right away. As you might imagine, I was on my face every day and had God’s Word open reading and claiming His promises.
By October things still looked bleak. So I had a talk with Donna and we decided to fight fire with fire. Since the enemy had apparently been given an opportunity with our finances, we decided to hit back. We decided to increase our giving by a significant amount, even though my previous salary had still not been restored and even though we had maintained the level of giving we were doing prior to the salary reduction. We were going out on faith.
By the end of October I experienced a sharp upturn in my business, and that momentum continued throughout the rest of the year and into the New Year. By March my previous salary was restored, and I went on to get FOUR more significant raises in ’07.
Perhaps you could just chalk that up as the ebb and flow of business, but I think it’s significant that my only salary reduction in what was then a 13-year career came at a time when my focus on giving and being in God’s Word had waned. And on the very month that Donna and I decided to increase our giving even more, things broke loose. You can call that coincidence if you want, but I call it God keeping His promises.
And God is no respecter of persons. What he does for one, He will do for all who follow His principles.
I wish I had time and space to develop this teaching, but if you like, I would be happy to recommend some great resources to help you understand God’s covenant of blessing and the principles He has set in place for financial growth. Just let me know.