More of Jesus
“Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!”
The beginning of Psalm 112 takes us back to the beginning of the Psalms altogether:
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1–2)
The one who is blessed is the one who knows that God is real, and that what he says matters — that what he says is a gift worthy of our delight. This blessed individual is like a tree planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:3), which means he’s rooted and he’s nourished. He is able to withstand opposition and produce fruit. He’s generous and gracious. He’s righteous and reliable, and this is true of him forever (Psalm 112:3–6). He endures. He will not be shaken, not ever.
Then Psalm 112:7 tells us,
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
Up to this point to verse 7 I’ve understood Psalms 1 and 112 to be describing how I’m supposed to live. These anonymous psalms are meant to give us the profile of the man or woman who trusts God, and therefore, this is character that’s attainable. It’s possible for us to really live this way.
But then verse 7 stops me.
Fearless. Firm. Steady.
Really? This is the righteous man? You mean he’s really not afraid of bad news? There’s no future possibility of which this man could hear that would not terrify him? You mean he’s firm? — as in, he’s completely insulated from the opinions of others and he’s freed to love them on God’s terms rather than as way to win their approval? And he’s steady? Steady as in not easily stressed out? Not quickly overwhelmed? Not overruled by his emotions?
I wish all this could be true of me, but I don’t think it ever will be. I’ve tried, but it just doesn’t work. The greatest shot I have of living up to this righteous man is if I were isolated to some mountain cabin miles away from other people. I’d be better at loving others if there were fewer others around me, as in none.
More than that, according to Psalm 112, the character of this righteous man is because he trusts in God. His actions are the fruit of his faith. He really knows God and believes him — and in every single circumstance, whether chaotic or tranquil, busy or relaxed, good or bad. Wherever this man finds himself, he knows God is with him.
So this righteous man is more than righteous . . . he’s perfect.
Could anyone ever actually live this way?
Yes. Someone has.
See, Psalms 1 and 112 are not mere depictions of a faithful Israelite, they are descriptions of the perfect human. They show us Jesus Christ.
And this discovery changes everything.
Psalm 112 is not so much about commanding a standard as it is about revealing a person — which means my try-harder grit must give way to his power active within me. Less clinched fists, more humble yielding. We’re not talking about a list to complete, but this is the Christ-life which is my life right now. That’s because I’ve been crucified with Christ. I don’t live anymore, but it’s Christ who lives in me. And the the life that I now live — this life, this imperfect, encumbered human existence — I do all this by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me (see Galatians 2:20).
Fearless. Firm. Steady. That means more of Jesus. More of his rule and reign in me and through me. More of God close and clear.