What does it mean to live a good life? Read Psalm 112 here.
This is another one of those tricky to negotiate Psalms, the righteous vs the wicked, the kind of polarization that leaves us squirming a bit in our seat going: ‘umm, isn’t it about grace? If we are a little bit righteous does that mean we’ll get some health and wealth going on? No wait, that sounds wrong, but that’s what it says…’ until we burst into little theological balls of smoke.
Ahem. Important questions to ask, and I’m not going to pretend I know the answer to them. I think it’s something to do with the righteous way of life being the best way. I think it points to the only truly righteous man, Jesus. I think it’s something to do with God’s ways being the best way to live, I think it’s something to do with the eternal life in the kingdom of God that awaits us, I think it’s something to do with God stepping into our lives and us living in fear of him.
I don’t know what to do with the stuff here that makes it look like if we are only righteous and life will work out fine, there is too much else in the Bible that persuades me that sometimes it just doesn’t work like that. Psalm 73 seems a good place to go to see how the wicked seem to prosper. But I’m not sure we can just plump for the this is about eternity/Christ option.
There is big lovely truth to be gleaned from this Psalm. Read it through again. This Psalm tells us what a good life really is- it’s life as it’s meant to be lived, a life that starts with fearing God, delighting in his commands. Life with God should lead us to this kind of life. It might be worth looking at what that life looks like. It’s a life of compassion, graciousness, generosity, a life of righteousness and justice. Are these the things that we are longing for in our lives? Do we seek these things? What do we think a good life looks like? Is it about the externals or the internals of our heart and attitude? What legacy do we want to leave?
This Psalm offers a life where the internals affect the externals. Where our treasure is will affect how we live this life, the things we value will affect the choices we make and the places we go to. Here is a life that values the right things, that looks for the way of generosity, compassion and trust in the Lord. There is a confidence in this way of life, a steadfastness, no fear of bad news, trusting in the Lord.
Tim, who I wrote about here, was a member of our church, when this Psalm was preached in church at the end of last year he’d just received the grim news that he had pancreatic cancer and had months to live. If ever I saw someone who came close to these words it was Tim. I’m sure he had his terrified moments in the following months, but through his illness he exhibited the kind of peace that stems from trusting God and knowing his destiny was secure. He exhibited the qualities of a righteous man.
The weird thing about all this is that we read this Psalm and almost write it off as unattainable or fanciful that we could live in such ways. However, we follow a man who did walk such ways here on earth, and we walk in his footsteps. I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to suddenly become like this overnight but I am sure that these are the kind of characteristics I want to ooze out of me as I live this life. I want to live this kind of good life.
I know I can’t do it on my own but I know that I have one who is at work in me transforming me from clinging to my way of living, to my sense of control to someone who fears the Lord, who trusts in him and has no fear of bad news. He is working in me to give me a steadfast heart and I’m starting to want that more than I want the perfect job that fits my skills and experience, more than my dream of a family life, more than 2 holidays in exciting locations a year, more than being surrounded by friends who love me and think I’m erudite and interesting. There is more to the good life than these externals and I want to explore that land.
What does it mean to delight in God’s commands?
What things do I want in my life? Am I willing to exchange them for a life lived like this?