Psalm 112: The Fear of the Lord
May 19, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
There are lots of theories around about how to be “successful.” Perhaps one of the most famous is called “how to win friends and influence people.” Another is called “the seven habits of highly effective people.” This is a mere taste of the numerous books, online resources, and seminars that exist to tell us how to be “successful.” Has anyone ever thought the Bible might have something to say about that?
This psalm first gives the condition for such success, and then redefines what the nature of real success is. The condition is simple: “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord.” The fear of the Lord is the golden key to the palace of blessing. Whoever seeks to do well (truly well; we will redefine success in a moment) must first of all unlock that door to divine approval, and it can only be unlocked by what the psalmist here calls “fear.”
To fear God is not to be scared of God—though when we know who God is, there is ample reason to be scared. But neither is it merely a mealy-mouthed “respect.” To fear God is to treat God as he deserves as God. To fear a mountain is to treat the mountain with appropriate care and deference. To fear God is to treat him in accord with his nature.
In particular, then, it means to “greatly delight in his commands.” Fear, in this sense, is not then the opposite of loving God, for it includes the more emotive or affective element of delighting in God. All this fear is necessary if we are to receive from God the blessing of God.
Whom do you fear? People? Failure? Poverty? Sickness? The one way to cast out our fears is to fear the good God.
So if you wish to be blessed, learn to fear God by delighting in his Word. But what then of the nature of success? It is marked by these 8 characteristics:
- “The righteous will never be moved.” It means stability. There is a balance and rootedness to the personality of the one who is righteous, that is who fears God.
- “He will be remembered forever.” Not only do those who fear God leave a legacy of respect after they die, they also are a part of God’s eternal legacy in the presence of God after death.
- “He is not afraid of bad news.” Because you fear God, then any other calamity is no longer frightening to you.
- “His heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” The fear of God gives a firmness of purpose, and is rooted in a personal trust in God. This is not self-righteous or legalistic works. This is a reliance upon God through trust, thereby to fear God for who God truly is.
- “He looks in triumph on his adversaries.” Victory over sin is a gradual process through this life. But the one who fears God will not waver from the purpose of holiness until he or she is finally glorified in heaven.
- “He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor.” The one who fears God is open-handed with his resources to others.
- “His righteousness endures forever.” While those who fear God are still sinners, their righteous purpose will stand, through faith in Christ, for eternity.
- “His horn is exalted in honor.” There is a respect and an honor that comes to the one who fears God.
Whereas those who do not fear God, “the wicked,” see all this blessing and become angry. And the desire of the wicked will perish.
In other words, the key to real, God-defined success is not merely canny relational skills, brilliant network, or subtle sales techniques. There is a place for technique and wisdom in dealing with people, of course. But the root of all true success is found in the man or woman of God who trembles at the presence of God in their lives. Who lives coram Deo (“in the face of God”), to the honor of God, for the glory of God. Such a man or woman is revealed in private on their knees praying. They know the eye of the Lord is on them, and they live their lives for the joyful delight of following God’s Word. And such a person will experience true blessedness to a measure in this life (along with sufferings), and fully and completely throughout eternity. Therefore, give yourself to the fear of the Lord!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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