The Righteous Ones
By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
The righteous ones are like the Righteous One. We read in Psalm 11:7, “For the LORD is righteous; He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.”
Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) comments, “There is no title to this psalm, but it is evidently a companion to the hundred and eleventh, and, like it, it is an alphabetical psalm. Even in the number of verses, and clauses of each verse, it coincides with its predecessor, as also in many of its words and phrases. The reader should carefully compare the two psalms line by line. The subject of the poem before us is — the blessedness of the righteous man, and so it bears the same relation to the preceding which the moon does to the sun; for, while the first declares the glory of God, the second speaks of the reflection of the divine brightness in men born from above. God is here praised for the manifestation of his glory which is seen in his people, just as in the preceding psalm he was magnified for his own personal acts. The hundred and eleventh speaks of the great Father, and this describes his children renewed after his image. The psalm cannot be viewed as the extolling of man, for it commences with ‘Praise ye the Lord;’ and it is intended to give to God all the honour of his grace which is manifested in the sons of God.”
Dr. William Binnie (1823-1886), Professor of Church History and Pastoral Theology, Free Church College, Aberdeen, explains, “The hundred and eleventh and the hundred and twelfth psalms, two very short poems, dating apparently from the latest age of inspired psalmody, present such features of resemblance as to leave no doubt that they came from the same pen. In structure they are identical; and this superficial resemblance is designed to call attention to something deeper and more important. The subject of the one is the exact counterpart of the subject of the other. The first celebrates the character and works of God; the second, the character and felicity of the godly man.”
Psalm 112 is an acrostic psalm. There are several others such as, Psalm 9, 10, 24, 34, 37, 111, 119, and 145. Dr. William Binnie provides an acrostic in English to demonstrate to English readers how the psalmist wrote one in Hebrew. Dr. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) explains, “The only feasible method (of exhibiting the structure of these psalms to an English reader) is to omit from our alphabet the four letters that are of least frequent use, and make the 22 characters that remain stand for the 22 consonants of the Hebrew.” Allow me to share the acrostic from the work of Dr. William Binnie, titled Psalms, their History, Teachings, and Use.
1. A ll-blessed is the man that feareth the LORD”
B eing filled with delight in His commandments.
2. C ourageous in the earth shall be his seed:
D escendants of upright men shall be blessed.
3. E minent shall his house be for wealth and riches:
F or evermore doth his righteousness endure.
4. G ladsome light ariseth in the darkness for the upright:
H e is gracious and compassionate and righteous.
5. J oy shall be to the man who showeth favour and lendeth:
K nowing how to sustain his affairs with justice.
6. L o, he shall not be moved for ever:
M emorable shall be the righteous man for ever.
7. N o evil tidings shall he fear:
O n the LORD depending, his heart is fixed.
8. P lanted firmly is his heart, he shall not fear:
Q uake shall he not, until he see [his desire] on his foes.
9. R ichly hath he scattered: he hath given to the poor:
S tand shall his righteousness for ever.
T ower aloft shall his horn with honour.
10. V exed shall the wicked be when he seeth it:
W ith his teeth shall he gnash and melt away:
Y ea, the desire of wicked men shall perish.”
Dr. Binnie shares, “We may note, in passing, the light in which these psalms, as thus reproduced in an English acrostic, exhibit the exhortation with which they both open: ‘Praise ye the LORD!’”
We will note three things from Psalm 112 about the Righteous Ones.
I. The Exhortation of the Righteous Ones (Psalm 112:1a)
We read in Psalm 112:1a, “Praise the Lord!” Here the psalmist exhorts believers to praise the Lord. In Hebrew the word hallelujah is a confession revealing confidence in the Lord, the Righteous One, who alone can make us righteous. With Paul the apostle, we must confess, “not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9b). The psalmist encourages us, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (Psalm 107:2a). When we say, “Praise the Lord!” we identify with Him, who alone is worthy of our praise. From Psalm 96:4-6 we read, “For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; / He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, / But the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; / Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”
It is interesting to note that Psalm 111, 112, 115-117 either begin or end with “Hallelujah” translated “Praise the Lord”. Psalm 111 and 112 serve as an introduction for Psalm 113-118.
II. The Experience of the Righteous Ones (Psalm 112:1b-9a)
From Psalm 112:1b-9a we read about the condition and the conduct of the righteous ones, “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, / Who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; / The generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, / And his righteousness endures forever. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; / He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends; / He will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he will never be shaken; / The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; / His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; / He will not be afraid, / Until he sees his desire upon his enemies. He has dispersed abroad, / He has given to the poor; / His righteousness endures forever. . .”
Righteous ones fear the Lord. In Psalm 111:10 we read, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; / A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.” From Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10a we read, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, / But fools despise wisdom and instruction . . . . The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, / And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Righteous ones delight greatly in the Lord’s commandments. David writes, “Blessed is the man / Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, / Nor stands in the path of sinners, / Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; / But his delight is in the law of the Lord, / And in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). In 1 John 5:1-3 we read, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) comments, “Although the Christian dispensation is one of spiritual, rather than of temporal, blessing—it is nevertheless true that “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).”
From Proverbs 14:34 we read, “Righteousness exalts a nation, / But sin is a reproach to any people.” Each one of us help to exalt our nation by righteousness, and each time we sin we cause our nation to decline. From 1 John 5:17a we read, “All unrighteousness is sin.”
Remember the righteous one named Job, who suffered severe setbacks and heartbreaking losses, before your think you should have a life of no pain and all ease. From the book that bears his name, we read, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). We read about his attack from the wicked one, known as Lucifer, Satan, the devil, and that serpent of old.
Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005), asks, “Did you know that you can’t be a true Christian without suffering for Jesus? There’s no cheap, easy, or lazy way you can be a follower of Jesus Christ.
I’m not talking about common suffering like arthritis or a lost job. Those things happen to all people. Neither am I talking about carnal suffering where you bring trouble upon yourself because of wrongdoing. I’m talking about Christian suffering.
Did you know that if you’re a true Christian, you’re going to suffer for it? A lot of people think if they waltz down the aisle and join a church, they have a ticket to heaven, and life will be all honey and no bees. That’s not true! God uses persecution in the Christian’s life to purify him, unite him with Christ, empower him, and to persuade others to believe. Christian persecution is a sure sign that we are going with Christ and in direct opposition to Satan.”
III. The Exaltation of the Righteous Ones (Psalm 112:9b-10)
We read of the righteous one in Psalm 112:9b-10, “His horn will be exalted with honor. The wicked will see it and be grieved; / He will gnash his teeth and melt away; / The desire of the wicked shall perish.” This speaks of the conquest of the righteous ones. In Psalm 75:10, “All the horns of the wicked I will also cut off, / But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.” From Proverbs 14:32, “The wicked is banished in his wickedness, / But the righteous has a refuge in his death.”
Years ago I remember the movie called The Restless Ones (1965). I found the following storyline for this film featuring Billy Graham, “A reporter doing a story on a Christian pastor who ministers to troubled teens doesn’t realize that his own son is getting mixed up with a disturbed young girl and that both of them are headed for trouble.”
David writes about the conflict between the righteous and the wicked in Psalm 11:1-7, “In the Lord I put my trust; / How can you say to my soul, / ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain’? For look! The wicked bend their bow, / They make ready their arrow on the string, / That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, / What can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple, / The Lord’s throne is in heaven; / His eyes behold, / His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous, / But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; / Fire and brimstone and a burning wind / Shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous, / He loves righteousness; / His countenance beholds the upright.”
From Proverbs 24:15-20 we read, “Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; / Do not plunder his resting place; / For a righteous man may fall seven times / And rise again, / But the wicked shall fall by calamity. Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, / And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; / Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, / And He turn away His wrath from him. Do not fret because of evildoers, / Nor be envious of the wicked; / For there will be no prospect for the evil man; / The lamp of the wicked will be put out.”
We read in Deuteronomy 32:35, “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; / Their foot shall slip in due time; / For the day of their calamity is at hand, / And the things to come hasten upon them.’” Paul the apostle echoes this thought in Romans 12:19-21, where we read, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; / If he is thirsty, give him a drink; / For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
In 1 Peter 5:5b-7 we read, “‘God resists the proud, / But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Please note the contrast between the righteous and the wicked. We read in Isaiah 26:3 about the righteous ones, “You will keep him in perfect peace, / Whose mind is stayed on You, / Because he trusts in You.” We could call the wicked, “The Restless Ones”. From Isaiah 48:22 we read, “‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’” In addition, Isaiah writes, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, / When it cannot rest, / Whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ Says my God, ‘for the wicked’” (Isaiah 57:20-21).
Maybe you remember seeing the following message in some medium, “No Jesus, No Peace; Know Jesus, Know Peace.” Several years ago a fellow who turned away from his Christian faith wrote an article titled “No Jesus, Know Peace. Know Jesus, No Peace.” Obviously, mocking the Christian faith he once claimed as his own. John warns in 1 John 2:18-23, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
John also writes, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
From Proverbs 16:25 we read, “There is a way that seems right to a man, / But its end is the way of death.” In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John Oxenham the pseudonym of William Arthur Dunkerley (1851-1941), penned a poem titled “The Ways”:
“To every man there openeth
A choice of ways to go;
And the high souls take the high road
And the low souls take the low,
And in between on misty flats,
the rest drift to and fro;
But to everyone there openeth
A highway and a low,
And everyone decideth
The way his soul shall go.”
In 1 John 2:1-2 we read, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” Remember, Jesus Christ will either advocate in mercy or adjudicate in wrath! From 1 Peter 4:17-18 we read, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, / Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’”
Are you one of the restless ones or one of the righteous ones?
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A Treasury of David (New York: Funk & Wagnall, 1882), Psalm 112
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A Treasury of David (New York: Funk & Wagnall, 1882), Psalm 112
Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.
William Binnie, Psalms, their History, Teachings, and Use, 2nd ed., (London : Hodder and Stoughton, 1886), pp. 142-143, Available from: http://archive.org/stream/thepsalmstheirh00binnuoft#page/142/mode/2up Accessed: 07/31/12
F. B. Meyer, Psalms: A Study of the 150 Psalms, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1964), Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
Adrian Rogers, “The Marks of a Christian”, Available from: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/read/articles/marks-of-a-christian-8429.html Accessed: 07/31/12
By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527
Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com
(251) 626-6210 © August 26, 2012 All Rights Reserved