ONLY THE RIGHTEOUS WILL PROSPER – IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT —
HOW BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO FEARS THE LORD!
Song: Count your Blessings, name them one by one … see what God has done
Scripture Reading: Deut. 28:1-14; Job 5:17-27
Going to count some of our blessings this morning
I want you to look carefully this morning at your investment strategy.
I have some great failures in this area when it comes to financial investments …
But Spiritually I hope I have a good track record …
Especially called to be generous to the poor
(:1A) INTRODUCTION: “Praise the Lord!”
Sets the tone for this study
This is another acrostic poem, the phrases of which begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Companion to Psalm 111 – takes up where that psalm ends
Now we see the character of God (studied last week from His great works) manifested in the character of His children; we are godly and righteous because of the work of His grace in our lives to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit
Answers a lot of key questions:
– Why do the wicked prosper?
– Is it really worth it to fear the Lord – to obey Him and serve Him?
– Will God really bless me if I obey Him and follow Him and Fear Him and Depend on Him and Love Him and Delight in Him?
Eccles 8:12 “I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly”
Matt 19:27-30 Apostles concerned with what would be the reward for following Christ whole-heartedly
“we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”
1 Tim. 4:8 “godliness is profitable for all things”
Gives us the Big Idea in v.1 and then goes on to illustrate and prove his point
ONLY THE RIGHTEOUS WILL PROSPER – IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT —
HOW BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO FEARS THE LORD!
I. (:1b) THESIS: ONLY THE RIGHEOUS WILL PROSPER – IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT – HOW BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO FEARS THE LORD!
A. Theme is that of Abundant Blessing
“How blessed is the man”
When God is the one doing the blessing …. You can be sure that the blessing is worth something; more than just happiness; inward peace and joy that goes beyond our circumstances
B. Identification of the Godly – Inward Attitude — just one summary description used
“ who fears the Lord”
will be contrasted with the wicked in vs. 10
Psalm 111 identified this man as:
those who “delight in” the works of the Lord
those who “fear Him ” vs. 5
“His people” (vs. 6, 9)
“all those who do His commandments”
The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Worship (111:10 – companion psalm)
it is certainly the beginning of Wisdom which is what we need to properly reflect on the character of God, to appreciate His awesome works, and to respond with heartfelt Worship; Obedience is the key to maintaining that proper attitude of the fear of the Lord and thus being continually blessed with more and more wisdom and understanding — “A good understanding have all those who do His commandments”
C. Identification of the Godly — Outward Evidence of Fearing God = Enthusiastic Obedience :
“Who greatly delight in His commandments”
Similar to Psalm 1 “his delight is in the law of the Lord”
How often can we say this of our children?
If we really have their maturity and blessing in mind, why isn’t this their reaction more often?
Doesn’t find God’s commandments burdensome; not a chore to obey God
Doesn’t obey grudgingly or out of necessity; God loves a cheerful obeyer
Christ: “Lo, I delight to do Thy will . . .”
Unbelievers cannot imagine that we take delight in something they view as restrictive and robbing them of the enjoyment of life
II. (:2-9) 7 BLESSINGS ON THE GODLY:
[Each grows out of corresponding characteristic of God we studied in Psalm 111 as we praised God for His mighty works]
1. (:2-3) Prosperous Posterity Associated with the God’s Royal Righteousness
a. Legacy of Influence and Power
“His descendants will be mighty on the earth
The generation of the upright will be blessed.”
Should be expectation that the children of godly parents will have the best opportunity to make a leadership impact on the church of the next generation. Not true in every case … but godly nurturing will have its reward
Two principles in tension: every man accountable for his own sin; yet there is also a carry-over – both positively and negatively – from preceding generation
Church leadership should benefit from our godly children growing up and assuming significant roles
b. Material Wealth and Riches
“Wealth and riches are in his house”
abundance and contentment; fulfillment; satisfaction
Connection in OT economy normally between godliness and material prosperity – associated with the blessings of life in the Promised Land; different in the church age: Peter said: “silver and gold have I none” – so Prosperity Gospel is a great hoax today – they try to run with verses like this one – if the church is just the continuation of Israel, makes it harder to be precise and accurate in these types of controversies
c. Enduring Righteousness
“And his righteousness endures forever”
If conversion is genuine, then the fruit abides forever; Bible knows nothing of believers who look to all the world like they live in unrighteousness and ungodliness
2. (:4) Christlike Light and Character Associated with God’s Memorable Grace
a. Intellectual and Moral Guidance / Hopeful Future on the dark pathway of Tough Times (Adversity)
“Light arises in the darkness for the upright”
Christ came as the Light of the world to bring light to all who would receive Him
Believers are described as salt and light
What is true about a man who walks in darkness?
– Can’t see where he is going
– Stumbles and falls
Even in tough times, the righteous have the light of the Lord’s presence and guidance; What darkness are you facing today? The blessing of the godly is that you are not destined to remain in that darkness – Great HOPE for the future
Could refer to deliverance from the darkness of trouble; but more likely refers to guidance in a life of complexity; light from the Word of God as the believer honestly seeks the face of God; not having some verse jump out of context so that he makes it mean something that it does not – that’s not guidance; not a jumble of individual statements that we should put in a bag and shake up and then draw out some phrase; read each book in context and in totality; chief requirement to receive this blessing is honesty before God; uprightness of heart; integrity; we actually do want to know what God’s Word says and how it applies to our situation; not asking for reassurance that the path we have already decided to take is right; we want to use God as a rubber stamp for what we want; Jer. 42:2,5 that the Lord may show us the way we should go and the thing we should do; should we flee into Egypt or stay where we are? Message was to stay where they were and the Lord would look out for them (43:2 – opposition to Lord’s Word).
Wiersbe: If there is darkness around them, they wait for the Lord to send the light (v. 4). This is what encouraged Joseph during thirteen years of waiting and suffering in Egypt. “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.” (27:14, NKJV)
Spurgeon: It is as ordinary for the righteous to be comforted as for the day to dawn. Wait for the light and it will surely come; for even if our heavenly Father should in our last hours put us to bed in the dark, we shall find it morning when we awake.
b. Tender-Hearted Demeanor
“He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.” Like the Lord
Parable of the Good Samaritan – when confronted with the need of someone who
is in distress, we exercise the stewardship of God’s possessions entrusted to us to try to
meet that need
3. (:5) Safety Net for Generosity Associated with God’s Promised Provision
a. Encouragement to be Aggressive in Generosity (not Foolish)
“It is well with the man who is gracious and lends”
Fear: is that if I am generous and give to others, I will end up destitute and abandoned;
not true that we can promise some formula that if we give X, God will return in a material sense X squared … but it is true that we can never outgive God and He has pledged to take care of all of our needs
We can be aggressive in being generous to others because God will guard our cause and provide for all of our needs
Look at the example of the Macedonians who gave out of their great poverty and affliction; even beyond their ability to give (2 Cor. 8:1-6)
Look at excuses:
– I can’t help him out because I don’t have very much myself
– I can’t help him out because he is not deserving
– I can’t help him out because I need to provide for my own future security – can never have enough – you don’t know what the future will hold
Look at lending from a wrong motive:
– trying to enrich myself – usury; huge rates of interest
– trying to ingratiate myself and get something in return; bribe Luke 6: 32-36
Wiersbe: He was generous in his use of the wealth the Lord gave him, sharing it with the poor and lending it freely without interest (Deut. 23:19-20). He was certainly not miserly or covetous, and he was obedient to the Lord’s admonition to care for the poor and needy (Ex. 23:11; Lev. 25:35-38; Deut. 15:7, 11). When he quoted verse 9 in 2 Corinthians 9:9, the apostle Paul used him as an example for believers today to follow. (See also Prov. 11:24).
b. Guarantee that God has our Back – He Covers Our Bets
“He will maintain his cause in judgment.”
Difficult to translate
He will sustain his case in litigation
he will be found successful in the critical battles that arise
Alternative translations: (I am not choosing these)
He will guide his affairs with discretion
He will maintain his affairs justly
4. (:6) Memorable Stability = Unshakeable Stability and Righteous Reputation Associated with God’s Providential Power
Times of difficulty and challenge will arise for the godly – but he faces adversity with a quiet confidence
a. Unshakeable Stability
“For he will never be shaken”
9 OT usages – be shaken, totter, removed, overthrown
Psalm 15:5 He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.
Psalm 125:1 Those who trust in the LORD Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
Proverbs 10:30 The righteous will never be shaken, But the wicked will not dwell in the land.
Henry Law: He stands immovable as a rock. His confidence is firmly settled on his God. He trembles not lest messengers should announce calamities. He knows that all events are ordered by his heavenly Father, and therefore that all things must work together for his good. He fears not lest his foes should gain advantage, and extinguish his remembrance upon earth.
b. Righteous Reputation
“The righteous will be remembered forever.”
Think of how the unsaved love to make monuments to themselves; try to create a lasting legacy; want to be remembered for their achievements
Think of famous saints of the past; think of ones who have had a lasting impact on your life;
You can even have an impressive testimony to nonbelievers
* * * * chiastic arrangement of vs s. 7-8 A / B / B / A * * * *
Heart Anchored in Faith Rather Than Adrift in Fear
5. (:7a, 8b) Freedom from Fear Associated with God’s Truthful Integrity
“He will not fear evil tidings”
“he will not fear until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries”
no such thing for him as “evil tidings”
“let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid”
6. (:7b, 8a) Anchor of Faith Associated with God’s Reliable Revelation
“His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord” – Man’s Responsibility
“His heart is upheld” – God’s Sovereign Grace
God responds to his faith and upholds his heart
Calm and untroubled even in the face of adversity
* * * *
7. (:9) Transformed Behavior Associated with God’s Sovereign Redemption
a. Past Performance of Unselfish Generosity
“He has given freely to the poor”
VanGemeren: He has singled out generosity and compassion (v.4) as the hallmark of wise living. Wise living is characterized by lasting success, unlike many human endeavors that fail or are short- lived.
b. Abiding State of Righteousness
“His righteousness endures forever”
Summary (:9c) Future Recognition and Rewards Associated with God’s Holiness of Character
“His horn will be exalted in honor.”
Horn = symbol of strength and power and dignity – study animals
VanGemeren: The “horn” denotes peace, prosperity, and God-granted success, instead of the competitive, greedy aspirations of the wicked.
Ps. 75:5 “Do not lift up your horn on high, Do not speak with insolent pride.”
Look at example of Mordecai and his exaltation – Esther 6
Lord exalts us in due time; look at how exalted Christ is now after His life and death of humiliation and suffering
Look at the “crowns” promised to the godly in the NT as rewards for faithfulness
“the sufferings of this present time are not even worthy to be compared to the glory”
Spurgeon: His horn shall be exalted with honour. A horn is an emblem of power; for it is the beast’s strength, offensive and defensive: and of plenty, for it hath within it a capacity apt to contain what is put into it; and of sanctity, for in it was put the holy oil, with which kings were consecrated; and of dignity, both in consequence upon the reasons mentioned (as denoting might, and influence, and sacredness accompanying sovereign dignity) and because also it is an especial beauty and ornament to the creature which hath it; so that this expression, “his horn shall be exalted with honour,” may be supposed to import that an abundance of high, and holy, of firm and solid honour shall attend upon the bountiful person … God will thus exalt the bountiful man’s horn even here in this world, and to an infinitely higher pitch he will advance it in a future state. –Isaac Barrow, 1630-1677.
III. (:10) CONCLUSION: CONTRAST THE CURSING OF THE WICKED
A. Distress and Frustration — because of the Ultimate Prosperity and Blessing Showered on the Righteous
“the wicked will see it and be vexed” – consider, perceive
Envy eats away at his heart – provoked to anger and wrath
No more questions about why do the wicked prosper … they don’t!
Eccles 5:13-17 – If you pursue riches and hoard them up rather than sharing with those in need you will end up frustrated and vexed
MacArthur: Earthly treasures are precarious and bring disadvantages: they produce anxiety (v. 12) and pain (v. 13). They disappear through bad business (v. 14) and are left at death (v. 15). They can even produce fear (v. 17).
Anger, bitterness, jealousy, frustration – all self destructive emotions
B. Diminishing and Suffering that leads to Eternal Torment
“He will gnash his teeth and melt away”
gnash, grind the teeth – only NT usage of this Hebrew word
Ex. 16:21 – of the manna which melted away under the mid day heat of the sun
Ezekiel 21:7 “And it will come about when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ that you will say, ‘Because of the news that is coming; and every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it comes and it will happen,’ declares the Lord GOD.”
C. Despair and Futility — No Satisfaction or Fulfillment
“The desire of the wicked will perish”
“desire” – their coveting and scheming
Psalm 10:3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, And the greedy man curses and spurns the LORD.
Psalm 10:17 O LORD, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble; Thou wilt strengthen their heart, Thou wilt incline Thine ear
Psalm 21:2 Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, And Thou hast not withheld the request of his lips.
Proverbs 11:23 The desire of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
Ask the unsaved: “What do you want out of life and/or eternity?”
God says “You can’t have it!” — you will never be satisfied or fulfilled
Even the pleasures of the flesh will not last forever
But the Word of the Lord endures forever (and those who delighted in doing His will)
Do you really have compassion on the lost?
Is that reflected in aggressive outreach and witnessing regarding how God has richly and undeservedly blessed you?
What is your investment strategy?
A. The Wicked – Why continue down this path of frustration and ruin? The sooner you repent and turn around, the sooner the blessings will flow
B. The Righteous —
– How can you fear God more?
– How can you delight in His commandments more?
– How can you be more generous in lending to the poor?
– How can you be more compassionate and more righteous and fair in how you treat others?
You can see that the payout is worth it – both in this life and the next … what is holding you back?
Christ commanded the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give his money to the poor and Follow Him – are we truly sold out to following our Lord?