Psalm 112 – The Blessings Upon Those Who Fear the LORD
Like Psalm 111 before it, Psalm 112 is an acrostic psalm. James Montgomery Boice commented on the similarities between Psalms 111 and 112: “They are the same length, fall into identical stanzas, and even have identical or similar phrases occurring at the same places in each. Both are precise acrostics; that is, they have twenty-two lines each of which begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.”
Charles Spurgeon wrote this regarding the connection between Psalms 111 and 112: “It bears the same relation to the preceding which the moon does to the sun; for, while the first declares the glory of God, the second speaks of the reflection of the divine brightness in men born from above.”
A. The blessed man and his family.
1. (1) The blessed life of the man who fears the LORD.
Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.
a. Praise the LORD: Like several others in this section of the psalms, Psalm 112 begins with Hallelujah! This was both the personal praise of the psalmist and an exhortation to others to praise Him.
i. “The Psalm cannot be viewed as the extolling of man, for it commences with ‘Praise ye the Lord;’ and it is intended to give to God all the honour of his grace which is manifested in the sons of God.” (Spurgeon)
b. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD: Psalms 111 and 112 may have been composed together; they are certainly set together in the collection on purpose. Psalm 111 ended with the idea that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; now the psalmist explains the blessedness of the one who does fear the LORD.
i. “The fear the Bible is talking about is best described as a profound reverence; that is, we are to revere God, or stand in awe of him.” (Boice)
c. Who delights greatly in His commandments: This blessed one does not fear God in a sense of misery and reluctant obligation. This psalm speaks of one who delights greatly in God’s commandments.
i. “There is a deliberate echo of the previous psalm here. Psalm 111:2 spoke of delight in God’s works. In Psalm 112:1 we are told that God’s people also delight in God’s words (commands).” (Boice)
ii. “To this man God’s word is as fascinating as are his works to the naturalist; and the term used for it, his commandments, implies that his interest is practical. What grips him is God’s will and call.” (Kidner)
iii. “The man who duly ‘feareth God,’ is delivered from every other fear; the man who ‘delighteth in God’s commandments,’ is freed from every inordinate desire of earthly things.” (Horne)
iv. “It is not enough to fear God, we must also love him: fear will deter us from evil; love will lead us to obedience.” (Clarke)
v. Think of the great measure of blessedness upon Jesus. No one revered God the Father as Jesus did; no one delighted in the Father’s commandments as much as Jesus did.
2. (2-3) The household of the blessed man.
His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches will be in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever.
a. His descendants will be mighty on earth: The one who fears the LORD and delights greatly in His commandments (verse 1) has God’s blessing on his family. The psalmist pronounced blessing on the descendants of this man, the one who is upright.
i. “‘Mighty’ here means being of recognized stature or standing rather than being physically strong.” (Boice)
ii. “If any one should desire to leave behind him a flourishing posterity, let him not think to accomplish it by accumulating heaps of gold and silver, and leaving them behind him; but by rightly recognising God and serving Him; and commending his children to the guardianship and protection of God.” (Mollerus, cited in Spurgeon)
b. Wealth and riches will be in his house: The psalmist also pronounced a blessing on the economic life of the one who fears the LORD. Their life of obedience and honor to God means God’s blessing will also come to their financial dealings.
i. “Such promises are expected to be fulfilled in general; it is not required by any proper rules of interpreting language that this should be universally and always true.” (Barnes, cited in Spurgeon)
ii. “The prosperity promised in the present verses may be largely material, but a closer look reveals the moral and spiritual terms which make it an instrument of good.” (Kidner)
iii. “Understood literally this is rather a promise of the old covenant than of the new, for many of the best of the people of God are very poor; yet it has been found true that uprightness is the road to success, and, all other things being equal, the honest man is the rising man.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “It sometimes pleaseth God to bestow on his servants, as he did on Israel of old, the good things of this world. And a rich man is therefore happier than a poor man, because ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Horne)
c. His righteousness endures forever: This blessed man’s good works and right standing with God are lasting. They will not fade in this world or the world to come.
i. “He is not the worse for his wealth, nor drawn aside by the deceitfulness of riches.” (Trapp)
ii. Adam Clarke had an interesting idea: righteousness here and in verse 9 refer to the generous giving of the man who fears the LORD. Clarke stated that the both the Hebrew and Greek words normally translated righteousness “…are often used to signify, not only justice and righteousness, but also beneficence and almsgiving; and this is most probably the meaning here.”
B. The contrast between the upright and the wicked.
1. (4-8) The upright are established.
Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is established;
He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.
a. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness: The psalmist recognized the darkness that often fills the world, but the upright one who fears the LORD will be blessed with light in the midst of the darkness.
i. “God himself is the light which arises in darkness for those who are sincere in their dealings with him.” (Delitzsch, cited in Boice)
ii. “The relationship of God to the godly person is like the relationship of the sun to the moon. The sun shines by its own glorious light. The moon does not, but still it shines, and the way it shines is by reflecting the light coming to it from the sun.” (Boice)
iii. “While we are on earth, we are subject to a threefold ‘darkness;’ the darkness of error, the darkness of sorrow, and the darkness of death.” (Horne)
iv. “The psalm gives a realistic portrayal of wisdom as it brings out, not only the blessings of honor, children, and riches, but also the reality of adversities.” (VanGemeren)
b. He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous: The light received from God shines through the righteous one, and he displays to others the grace, compassion, righteousness, and generosity God has granted to him.
i. Verse 3 referred to the wealth and riches that often come to those who fear the Lord. Kidner observed, “The psalm deals realistically with the temptations that go with the possession of money.” These include abuse to power, refusing to lend, fear, rivalry, and lack of generosity.
ii. And lends: “Finding himself in circumstances which enable him to spare a little of his wealth he lends judiciously where a loan will be of permanent service. Providence has made him able to lend, and grace makes him willing to lend. He is not a borrower, for God has lifted him above that necessity; neither is he a hoarder, for his new nature saves him from that temptation; but he wisely uses the talents committed to him.” (Spurgeon)
c. He will guide his affairs with discretion: The one who fears the LORD is blessed with wisdom (Psalm 111:10) that flows from his godly character.
i. “With discretion, Heb. with judgment; so as is fit and meet, and as God requires, not getting his estate unjustly, nor casting it away prodigally or wickedly, nor yet withholding it uncharitably from such as need it.” (Poole)
d. He will never be shaken: Because of His character and wisdom, the one who fears the LORD will be firmly established. His remembrance will last, with nothing to fear from evil tidings. As he trusts in the LORD, his heart is established and in the end, he will see victory over his enemies.
i. “He who builds his transient life on and into the Rock of Ages wins rocklike steadfastness…. Lives rooted in God are never uprooted.” (Maclaren)
ii. Everlasting remembrance: “The righteous are worth remembering, their actions are of the kind which record themselves, and God himself takes charge of their memorials.” (Spurgeon)
e. He will not be afraid of evil tidings: Evil tidings are all around us, and come to us every day. Evil tidings may come to us from our family, from our health, from business, from the unfaithful, from the culture around us, or from politics. Yet the one who fears the LORD will not be afraid.
i. “There cannot be evil tidings to the soul which has fixed its trust in the Lord…. If tidings were to come to you today of disease, loss, bereavement, death, they could not be evil if your heart dares to maintain a fixed trust in God; for such trust robs death of its sting, and the grave of its victory. I cannot understand, but I can trust Him.” (Meyer)
ii. His heart is established: “‘His heart is propped up;’ he is buttressed up by the strength of his Maker.” (Clarke)
iii. “He is neither fickle nor cowardly; when he is undecided as to his course he is still fixed in heart: he may change his plan, but not the purpose of his soul.” (Spurgeon)
2. (9-10) The grief of the wicked.
He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted with honor.
The wicked will see it and be grieved;
He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked shall perish.
a. He has dispersed: This psalm has much to say about the generosity of the one who fears the LORD. Since he is blessed in regard to material things (verse 3), it is important that he is generous with his blessings. He is also wise; dispersed implies a wise and thoughtful distribution as part of the discretion that guides his affairs (verse 5).
i. Paul quoted verse 9 in 2 Corinthians 9:9 to encourage Christians to be generous: As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”
ii. This generosity is not “…given indiscriminately and at random, but ‘dispersed,’ like precious seed, with prudence and discretion, according to the nature of the soil, and in proper season, so as to produce the most plentiful harvest.” (Horne)
b. His righteousness endures forever: The profile of this man (or woman) who fears the LORD is remarkable. It is a reflection of the character of God Himself, even as the moon reflects the sun’s light. It is partially fulfilled in the godly man or woman, and perfectly fulfilled in the man Jesus Christ.
· He is a God-fearing man (who fears the LORD).
· He is a lover of God’s word (delights greatly in His commandments).
· He is a prosperous man (wealth and riches).
· He is a man who makes a home for his family (his descendants…his house).
· He is a loving and kind man (gracious, and full of compassion).
· He is a helping man (deals graciously and lends).
· He is a wise man (will guide his affairs with discretion).
· He is a strong man (not afraid of evil tidings).
· He is a generous man (he has dispersed abroad).
· He is a man who does not abuse power (his horn will be exalted with honor).
· He is a hated man (the wicked will see it and be grieved).
i. Endures forever: “Wise living is characterized by lasting success, unlike many human endeavors that fail or are short-lived.” (VanGemeren)
ii. “When all the flashes of sensual pleasure are quite extinct, when all the flowers of secular glory are withered away; when all earthly treasures are buried in darkness; when this world, and all the fashion of it, are utterly vanished and gone, the bountiful man’s state will be still firm and flourishing, and ‘his righteousness shall endure for ever.’” (Barrow, cited in Spurgeon)
iii. His horn will be exalted with honor: “His power and authority shall be exalted with honour. He shall rise to influence only through his own worth, and not by extortion or flattery.” (Clarke)
iv. “Let it now be read again in close connection with the preceding one [Psalm 111], and it will be seen that the supreme fact about this man is that he has indeed become like the God Whom he fears and obeys. The very things celebrated in the praise of Jehovah are those which constitute the excellencies of this man who fears Him.” (Morgan)
c. The wicked will see it and be grieved: In contrast to the enduring blessing upon the upright man, the wicked man will melt away. His misery will be all the worse as his desire is frustrated and he sees the blessings that come to those who fear the LORD.
i. The wicked may not gnash their teeth in this life, but they certainly will in the age to come (Luke 13:28).
ii. “The covetous wretch who sat a brood upon his bags, and befooled the bountiful man, shall himself come to beggary, which he so much feared, and be ready to eat his own nails through envy at the other’s prosperity.” (Trapp)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com