Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalms 111 and 112 are alphabetic acrostic poems, in which each line begins with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 111 concludes:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. . . .
To him belongs eternal praise (v. 10).
Psalm 112 begins by repeating these themes, saying:
Praise the Lord.
Happy are those who fear the Lord,
who find great delight in his commands (v. 1).
First, a comment on the word “happy”, a difficult word to translate well. The translation “blessed are those who fear the Lord” may sound pretentiously spiritual to modern ears, though we who are religious do long for God’s blessing. Translating it as “content” sounds lame –”content are those who fear the Lord”. How about “joyful”? Might be a good choice, but it unhappily limits the verse to one fleeting emotion among the many we experience.
The sense of the original word is that in our life journey, those who honor God and keep his commands are on a path, a good path that leads to wholeness, integrity, health, and happiness.
Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon promise similar results to serious shoppers, but it does not happen. Purveyors of health food and natural medicines promise a simple, whole, and healthy life. Practitioners of yoga and meditation promise lower stress and more enjoyment, a place where body, mind, and soul are at peace. And the prosperity gospel treats Christianity as a vending machine with automatic and repeatable transactions: you do right by God and God will do right by you. A sweet package where God delivers health and wealth and success.
Psalm 112, in contrast, is about wholeness, not riches and health purchased by right living, but the fruit of a life lived humbly before God, a life that is the outcome of participating in community with God and others. “Happy are those who fear the Lord”–not because God immediately and conclusively delivers them from evil and pain, but because their lives move consistently against the curses and evil, against the river of self, moving toward the wholeness God intends for his creation.
Our father, the relentless onslaught of news gives us police brutality, pandemic deaths, economic disaster, and dysfunctional politics. With the poet we look for life as you intended, a fruitful life in a just society in a friendly world you created and continue to supervise.
With the poet, we reflect on your promise:
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 (vv. 4-5).
Idolaters of old sacrificed to fertility gods to get a good harvest. We, the new idolaters, prescribe the right theology and the right prayers, hoping for a happy life on earth and a comfortable place in heaven.
O Lord, help us to lose our mechanical, transactional, and legal views of how you operate. Help us approach you daily with respectful and trusting hearts. Help us live with grace, compassion and righteousness in the world you created. Help us build societies of mutual respect and cooperation. Help us participate fully in the life of the world and the blessings of creation.
Happy are those who fear you, O Lord. Bring us to that deep sense of wholeness and integrity which flows from a rightly ordered life.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.