The first casualties of upheaval can be love, kindness, and patience. But crisis is also a moment when love for God & one another can spring up. For 150 days, starting on 17th March 2020, I will write 300 words based on one of the 150 psalms in the bible. How can I find and give love in the midst of coronavirus?
There is a flat, just off Albany Street near Regent’s Park in London, that has a secret message written on the wall. No-one would know it was there because it’s been covered up with a couple of coats of white paint. But I know it’s there.
It’s the words of Psalm 112. We wrote it on the wall of the flat, when we bought it, as a promise and a prayer. If you peeled off the paint – it will still be there, 18 years on.
Here’s some of Psalm 112:
1 Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. 2 Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures for ever. 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. 5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.
What a wonderful set of promises. If we fear the Lord, then our children will be mighty & blessed, wealth & riches will come, righteousness will endure, light will dawn, good will come……. Amazing.
But, and it’s a big but – hang on a minute. Is this really always true? Is it true that those who honour God and act justly can expect all these blessings?
Sometimes. But we also know of people who appear to be fearing God and acting with justice who have experienced calamity, or injustice, or poverty. So what is going on here? What do we do with these promises?
Two things to say:
Firstly: it’s worth remembering that no-one 100% fears God, delights in His commands, lives justly and is compassionate and gracious. As the book of Ecclesiastes says “There is no-one who does good, not even one” (7:20). So whilst we aim to live like this, none of us makes it fully – which is why we need God’s grace.
Secondly, I think there is a clue in verse 9:
9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures for ever;
Here it describes people who are being generous to the poor – and we should be doing this. However, this verse is quoted in the New Testament, in 2 Corinthians 9:9, where the Apostle Paul puts it like this:
9 As it is written: “He has freely scattered his gifts to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”
This verse is applied to God himself – and I think this is the clue to understanding this Psalm.
We should grasp the invitation in this psalm to live fearing God, loving his commands, giving justice and being generous.
We should pray that the promises in this psalm become true in our lives, our families and our community.
But, and it’s a big but – we should recognise that the only one who fully lives in this way and who fully inherits all these promises is the Messiah – the Christ – Jesus.
He is the only one who is truly fearing God, living justly, and serving the poor – and it is him and his ‘descendants’ that are fully inheriting these promises.
God, help us to live fearing you and serving those around us with justice.
Have a blessed day. Love Matt