George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 5

Psalm 112

1. Structure

See Psalm 111.

2. Historical reference

The close parallel between 111 and 112 points to a primary intention behind this psalm — it is a hymn of praise to the godly man, who in so many ways reflects the character of the God to whose worship he is devoted. Several details are especially appropriate to Hezekiah:

His seed shall be mighty upon earth. The king’s lack of a son (cp. Psa. 127:3-5; 128:3) to continue the Davidic line was a great grief to one who centered his faith on God’s great promise to David (Isa. 38:5,19). Alas, Manasseh hardly proved to be one of the upright. So the student is driven to look for a later, and better, fulfillment, as in Par. 3 below.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house. The massive tribute extorted by the Assyrians must have reduced Judah to abject poverty (2 Kings 18:14-16). But the later plundering of the Assyrian camp, and the tremendous popularity enjoyed by Hezekiah among the surrounding nations because of the Assyrian destruction (2 Chron. 32:23) and because of the God-given prosperity of the rest of the reign, made Hezekiah in his latter days an affluent monarch.

And his righteousness endureth for ever, both in the volume of Holy Scripture, and in the world to come.
Unto the upright there ariseth light (Psa. 97:11) in the darkness. This might be a figure for the dramatic transformation — of Hezekiah and Judah — from apparent hopelessness to high success. But there is a more literal meaning, for it was certainly the Shekinah Glory that caused the shadow of the sun-dial to return ten degrees (Isa. 38:8). And there are indications that the destruction of the Assyrians at nighttime was accompanied by another manifestation of the Shekinah Glory (see, for example, Isa. 30:29-33).
Surely he shall not be moved for ever (Psa. 15:5): the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. This was assuredly true of godly Hezekiah.
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings. This is Hezekiah receiving the news of Sennacherib’s advance upon the city (2 Kings 19:6; 2 Chron. 32:1,2).

His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord:

“And he [Hezekiah] set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, ‘Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.’ And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chron. 32:6-8).
His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until (Psa. 110:1!) he see his desire upon his enemies. How true!

“Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses” (Isa. 37:36).

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa. 26:3).
His horn shall be exalted. The words always imply triumph over adversaries (Psa. 18:2; 75:10; 89:17,24; 92:10; 132:17; 1 Sam. 2:1,10; 2 Sam. 22:3; Luke 1:69), with probably a sidelong glance at the ox-imagery of God’s Cherubim of Glory.

With honour. 2 Chron. 32:23 again:

“And many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he [God? or Hezekiah?] was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.”
The desire of the wicked (that is, the object of their desire) shall perish. And the phrase melt away (cp. Psa. 58:8; 68:2) wonderfully describes the end of that invincible Assyrian campaign.

3. Messianic reference

The good man in this psalm is certainly Jesus Christ, made in this psalm (112) in the image and likeness of God (111). Detail after detail is fitting. Hezekiah being such a remarkable type of Christ makes this parallel application inevitable (see Psa. 80, Par. 4). Such verses as 1, 5, 7, and 8 are self-evident in their reference.

His seed are believers new-born in Christ (cp. Psa. 22:30; Isa. 53:10; Psa. 102:18; 103:22; 104:31; 145:5,9,10).

Mighty upon earth. Those in Christ — who are now meek and despised — will yet inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5) and, in the awesome splendor of spirit-nature, rule over it with Christ (Rev. 5:9,10).
Wealth and riches shall be in his house. This is defined by the rest of the verse: There is no greater wealth than his righteousness, which endureth for ever. This is the real treasure, in heaven now but soon to be on the earth — a treasure which will never fail (Luke 12:33).
Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness. What is this but the Lord’s resurrection? See Mic. 7:8:

“Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.”

Compare Matt. 28:3,4 and Luke 24:4. Also, this could refer to the Shekinah Glory in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement:

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning... Then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day” (Isa. 58:8,10).

This is surely a prophetic picture of the priesthood of Christ bringing the “light” of forgiveness and salvation to those who sit in the “darkness” of sin (cp. Isa. 9:1,2). And of course it is a picture in general of the blessings of the gospel and ultimately of the Messianic kingdom.

He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. Compare Psa. 111:4. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36; cp. Matt. 5:45,48).
The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. The Breaking of Bread? Immortality itself? Or — combining the two — a prophecy of the renewal of such a Remembrance in the Age to Come (Luke 22:16,18)?
He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor. What? His righteousness (cp. v. 3)!

His horn shall be exalted with honour, when his Kingdom supersedes all others.
The wicked shall gnash with his teeth. The anger of the Sanhedrin, directed against Stephen (Acts 7:54), referring back to this verse, requires that it be read as meaning violent anger:

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.”

Jesus had to face this also from his Jewish adversaries (cp. Job 16:9; Psa. 35:16; 37:12; 22:13,16; 57:4).

There are a number of New Testament instances of the rejected gnashing their teeth (Matt. 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). Are these passages intended to suggest sorrow, as is often supposed, or rather, as this evidence would indicate, anger — that is, anger against oneself?

4. A remarkable New Testament Quotation

Verse 9 is very effectively cited by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:9:

“As it is written, ‘He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever’.”

How very appropriate this is! Verse 8 speaks of the gracious kindness of God: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you” (cp. Psa. 112:4). Then, on the basis of the close parallel between Psalms 111 and 112, the believers also should match the Heavenly Father’s character in their generous response to Paul’s appeal on behalf of his “Benevolent Fund”: “that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound in all good work” (v. 8), even as God has done. And in what respect has God done this? By bestowing His “righteousness” upon otherwise unrighteous men and women. And the parallel in Psalm 111:9 has this: “He hath sent redemption unto his people”. These Corinthian believers would never be able to match that degree of generosity!

Yet they should freely give of what they did have — for their true possessions would never be diminished by what they bestowed upon others:

“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth” (Prov. 11:24).

“He who supplies seed for the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources” (2 Cor. 9:10, RSV).

And this echoes Psalm 112:3:

“Wealth and riches shall be in his house.”

And the greatest gift — the only truly meaningful gift — can never be depleted or lost by the man who, out of his own stores, helps others:

“And his righteousness [which is itself a gift from God] endureth for ever” (Psa. 112:3).

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

5. Other details

Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord (cp. Psa. 111:10). The man who rightly fears God truly has nothing else to fear. He will certainly not fear “evil tidings” (112:7) — whether verified or not — which come from mere men!
His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Salvation itself is a “family” affair (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-17; Rom. 4:16-18; Gal. 3:8,16,26-29; etc.). Of course, it is not enough to be the natural seed of Abraham; one must be the spiritual seed! Nevertheless, the Old Testament’s pervasive emphasis upon family solidarity and continuity, as a blessing from the Lord, should serve as a corrective to the excessive individualism of our western cultures.
A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth. Literally, “Happy” is the man who is generous and lends freely: Lev. 25:35-38; Deut. 15:7-10; Job 31:16-22; Psa. 37:21; Prov. 19:17; 25:21,22; Luke 6:35.

He will guide his affairs with discretion. But, like a good steward of the gifts that come originally from God (1 Cor. 4:2; 1 Pet. 4:10), the man of discretion will not lavish blessings upon others without thought and planning. The impulse of charity, though it springs from the heart, must be guided by the head, so that it may be spread abroad to the best advantage — and do good and not harm.
Surely he shall not be moved for ever. Contrast Psa. 49:11,12,16-20.
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings. Compare the “evil tidings” received by Job concerning his property (Job 1:13-17) and his children (vv. 18,19) — along with his righteous reaction (vv. 20-22). Even evil tidings will eventually work together for good to those who love God (Rom. 8:28).
The desire of the wicked shall perish. In general, compare with Psa. 1:6: “The way of the ungodly shall perish” — another sad ending to another psalm about the righteous man.
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