Fearing God — A Life of Blessing
March 22, 2015
When I read Scripture, not only am I instructed by the words I read, but I often also have emotional responses to those words:
- Some words make me feel comforted and encouraged and hopeful and happy — like being wrapped up in a warm blanket in front of a roaring fire on a cool day (e.g., Pss. 37:4; 63:8).
- Some words make me long for intimacy and fellowship with God (e.g., Ps. 27:8 ; John 20:1-18).
- Some words challenge me and make me introspective and self-examining (e.g., 1 Tim. 3:1ff)
- Some words make me cringe.
And that is the case of the psalm before us today. For more than 20 years every time I have read Psalm 112, I have cringed. I cringed because on April 14, 1991 I preached this psalm and I did the one thing you should never do with Scripture when you are preaching or teaching. I missed the point of the passage. Every preacher has those days, but in my mind that sermon towers above all the other missed points that I’ve preached.
I remember studying that week, wondering about and wrestling over the text: “Am I getting this right?” And, “I’m not sure the direction this is going is right, but all the study and commentaries seem to be moving that way, so I guess it must be okay.”
It wasn’t okay. I was wrong. I had a sense that I was wrong while I was studying. I was uncomfortable during the entire sermon while I preached it. And every time I have read that passage since then, I have cringed inwardly, remembering that sermon. And since then it has been on a list of “do-over” sermons for me. And when I planned this brief sermon series on the Psalms, there was one psalm in particular that was going to be on that list — Psalm 112.
This psalm is about the difficult theme of the fear of God. We don’t know if the same writer penned both Psalms 111 and 112, but it is clear that this psalmist at least read Psalm 111 and used it as the beginning point for his song (see 111:10 and 112:1).
From that verse we can say that the theme of this psalm is pretty clear:
God blesses those who fear Him.
And the structure of the psalm is also pretty clear: the psalmist makes his declaration about fearing God and then offers five demonstrations of God’s blessing on those who fear Him.
The difficulty (and downfall of my first sermon) is in interpreting those blessings.
Here then is Psalm 112, my do-over.
- The God-Fearer is Blessed (v. 1)
- How the God-Fearer is Blessed (vv. 2-10)
- The God-Fearer is Blessed in His Reputation (v. 2)
- The God-Fearer is Blessed with Righteousness (v. 3)
- The God-Fearer is Blessed to Serve Others (vv. 4-5)
- The God-Fearer is Blessed with Stability (vv. 6-9)
- The God-Fearer Avoids Ultimate Fear (v. 10)
Download the rest of this sermon on Psalm 112.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.