Last Sunday, church planter Scott Watters, who is raising support to start a French-speaking church near Moncton, New Brunswick, taught our Sunday School class and preached in the evening service. I was blessed by his Sunday School lesson, as brief as it was after his missions video and testimony, and I thought I would share it with a wider audience on this blog, and add some of my own thoughts to it.
Psalms 111 and 112 are both acrostic psalms, with either two or three lines in each verse beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. But there are more parallels than that! I’ll just point out a few; I encourage you to read Psalm 111 and 112 next to each other, reading verse 1 of 111 and verse 1 of 112 and seeing the many, beautiful similarities. If you cross-pollinate verses from both chapters, you’ll learn some wonderful truths about both God and what it means to be a righteous person.
Verse 4 is the first comparison that jumps out at first glance. In Psalm 111, it ends, “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion”; in Psalm 112, it ends, “He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.” Then in 111:5, we are assured that God “will ever be mindful of his covenant,” showing His faithfulness; 112:5 explains that the righteous man “will guide his affairs with discretion,” showing his faithfulness.
But the truth of verses 7-8 is my favourite here. Psalm 111:7-8 states that God’s works are righteous and eternally secure. Psalm 112:7-8 states that the righteous man will not be afraid, for his heart firmly trusts in the Lord. The beautiful truth is found when you take verses 7-8 of Psalm 111 and lay them on top of verses 7-8 of Psalm 112, like a set of two transparent sheets of glass that have patterns drawn on them that only make sense when viewed together. Why is the righteous man not afraid? Because his heart is resting on the eternally secure character of God. Whatever God does is right, and if He chooses to do something, no-one can stop Him. And He has purposed to make a covenant with His people and redeem them; He is on our side (Rom. 8:31)! So we need not fear bad news; we need not be anxious about the future. God will work all things for our good – this is our security.
One more thought: Psalm 111:10 mentions “the fear of the LORD,” which “is the beginning of wisdom.” This fear is a reverential awe of God. But think back over the truths of verses 7-8; verses 4-5 reveal the grace and compassion and faithfulness that flow out of the heart of God toward His people. The fear of the Lord in this chapter is not fear because God is angry, taking vengeance on sin and destroying the wicked (although He does do this, as in 112:10); it is fear because God is so good and gracious to people who don’t deserve it. Paul said it like this in Romans 2:4: “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.”
Do you trust in the goodness of God? When you sin, do you fall down on your knees in front of the cross and confidently ask for forgiveness (Micah 7:8-9; I John 1:9)? Do you live as if God is always standing up there in Heaven, with His arms folded, glaring down at you and shaking His head as you disobey Him – again? Or do you live as if Christ has purchased the smile of God so that nothing you can do can alter your acceptance in Him – whether by sinning or by doing right? Read these two psalms and meditate on the great goodness of God – and then ask Him to make your character reflect His goodness, as in Psalm 112. God loves to make Christians more like His Son – and He will never stop working His likeness in you.