Psalm 112 is not meant to be the last and only word on the earthly rewards for those who fear the Lord. It is one word among many in the Psalms. And it is a word we do need to hear. This psalm reminds us that earthly rewards often follow from right living. When we seek to do God’s will, when we live according to his commands, we will experience goodness in this life, even as we look forward to the life of the future. Yes, we will also know sorrow. But the joys and rewards of seeking the Lord and his ways will sustain us.
“GOD’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!” God’s works are indeed worth a lifetime of study. This endeavor will certainly enrich our understanding of God and add to our joy. But it will also help us know how we can work better, how we can work with more meaning. If you want good work, why not study the work of the greatest Worker of all? You don’t even have to apply for admission to God’s school. His work is before you each day.
As you might well imagine, the mystery of Melchizedek has spawned reams of speculation about his identity and purposes. I won’t even try to enter into that conversation here. Rather, I want to underscore two basic truths of our faith. First, God and his ways will always exceed our understanding. The mysterious Melchizedek reminds us that there is so much that we cannot understand, at least not this side of Heaven.
What should we do when people accuse us falsely? How should we act when we are victims of mean-spirited gossip? In such a situation, it’s awfully tempting to give it right back to those who have slandered us. This is especially true in a time when Twitter allows us to instantly trash anyone to get our sweet revenge. But Psalm 109 reminds us that our first response when we are victims of injustice should be to turn to God.
We live in a day when the ground beneath us is shifting… literally, in many parts of the world. But even if we aren’t experiencing literal earthquakes, we can experience the instability of the foundations of our lives. Investments plummet; loved ones die; jobs are lost; culture is continually changing; leaders fail at an alarming rate. How much we need to be established in God, the only certain ground of our being.
In Christian circles, there are a lot of conversations about holding each other accountable. But, as my friend Walter Wright, former Executive Director of the De Pree Center, has said, you can only hold people accountable if they desire it, and if they are willing to articulate that for which they want to be held accountable. Vows are the ultimate biblical means for formalizing that process.
Psalm 107 reminds us to “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good” (107:1). The bulk of the psalm consists of four vignettes that illustrate God’s saving grace. Each one calls for our response of thanks and praise. Whether people were lost and hungry, chained in gloom, suffering from sin-induced illness, or tossed about in a stormy sea, the Lord demonstrated his “unfailing love” by delivering them.
Psalm 106 begins on a joyful note: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (106:1). But by verse 6 the mood changes dramatically: “We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly…” How did God respond to the wickedness of his people and to their failure to remember him? The answer comes in verse 8, “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.”
As the story of Joseph remarkably demonstrates, farsightedness is a core gift of leadership. Joseph’s ability to see and understand what others do not opens the doors for his work as lead servant of Egypt. He sees the implications of Pharaoh’s dreams… And he simultaneously sees what should be done… Leadership requires both insight into the fundamental problems facing an organization and insight into the trajectory of their resolution.
How do we seek the Lord? What does this mean for those of us who are already in covenant relationship with him? In part, seeking God is a matter of paying attention… We pay attention to him from the moment we wake to the moment we close our eyes at night. We don’t look for God only in so-called “sacred” spaces, but equally in so-called “secular” places. God is present and active everywhere. We are invited to discern his presence and activity wherever we are.