Psalm 112 – How the Godly Man Can Live Open-Hearted

[Listen to an audio version here]

When I was in Egypt, I saw over and over again a spirit of generosity that really surprised me. Everywhere I went I had experiences like the ones I had in a restaurant one night. A guy had on a Star Wars shirt, and I really liked it. I told him so. Without any hesitation, he replied, you can have it, if it fits you. This was the sort of response I got everywhere.

Here’s another example. After going to two restaurants, I told our tour manager, this is just too much food. We cannot eat all of this. We can’t even come close! Here’s what he suggested. After you eat, he said, ask for a box. Then, ask them to give it to someone who needs this food or have your tour guide help you give it to someone in need. That way, you will bless someone who needs it, and it will help you build a relationship with the people who see you give.

Everywhere I went, I found this same sort of attitude. It was not just giving to the poor. It was welcoming people with gladness. It was truly valuing people. I came up with a name for this type of living. I call it open-hearted living.

It’s not easy to live open-hearted. We get wrapped up in our own activities. We have anxiety over our own things. We get preoccupied with our own problems. So, here is the question I kept asking myself, how do we find the resources that will enable us to live in an open-hearted way toward others? How can we keep giving, when others don’t give to us? How can we remain gracious when times are tough? What resources do we have to enable us to show kindness when others are unkind? That’s the question that I think this Psalm answers for us. Let’s consider this answer in four steps. First, let’s consider the reaction that we should have to those around us. Second, let’s look at the resources we have to react that way. Third, we’ll look at how we should respond to the resources available to us. Finally, we will look at the amazing results that come from using this resource.

Our Reaction to Those Around Us
How does the blessed man live in relationship to those around him? He is a giver. “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor” (Psalm 112:9). The word used here for “freely scattered” indicates a wide variety and large quantity of gifts. It involves money and material resources but also encouragement, friendship, and emotional support as well.

Let me note on the side here that the person who is truly open-hearted is not only a good giver. He is a good receiver. You build community not only by giving to others, but you also build community by allowing others to do you good. In other words, you build community not only by loving but also by letting others show love to you.

Back to the passage, the blessed man is described in a similar way in v. 5: “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.” Good here is used like “blessed.” They are generous. They have a disposition that is ready to give. If someone needs to use something, they are happy to lend. Whatever is needed, they carry it out completely and well.

Finally, he is gracious and compassionate. Verse 4 tells us that light shines in the darkness for the upright. This person receives good things, but that does not mean that there are no hard times. However, a light shines in the darkness. He is still gracious and compassionate. He sympathizes with others in their plight, is ready to give, and is kind toward those around him, even in hard times.

This phrase “gracious and compassionate” reflects God Himself. Psalm 112 and 111 are similar in structure and terminology. Psalm 111:4 says that God is “gracious and compassionate.” This points us back to Exodus 34:6 where God revealed Himself to Moses in this way. He is the gracious and compassionate God. The godly man is like God in that He is gracious and compassionate. This is the open-hearted person, ready to receive others and ready to give to others.

What about our own house? Does that mean that we have to give everything away? No. We need to use wisdom to give in the right time and in the right way to the right people and to the right degree. Notice that there is still wealth in this person’s house (see v. 3). He has things, but he is ready to give them up and does not hold on to them too tightly.

Now, there are times when others oppose us, and we are not able to give in the way we want. What should we do? We should love and pray for our enemies. If others are not open to us, we remain ready to be reconciled and quick to forgive. We are always open to opportunities to do good, even to those who have done us wrong.

Now, how do we get the strength to be able to do that?

The Resource that Empowers Open-Hearted Living
The resource that we have that enables us to do good is the promise of God that He will do us good. God says that His people will be blessed, and so we don’t need to be afraid of giving. He will make up for it and pay us back.

Listen to what God promises.

First, God promises that He will take care of our families. “Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed” (Psalm 112:2). We can focus on God and giving because God will bless our families. We don’t have to let anxiety over our families control us. When we are wide open to the Lord and what He wants and to people and what they need, the effect will be a blessing on our children. This does not mean every single one of them will do well, but it means that in general godliness reverberates through the generations because of God’s blessing.

Second, God promises to supply us with good things. “Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever” (Psalm 112:3). This does not mean every person will get every bit of wealth and riches they want. What it does mean is that God delights to give His children good gifts.

Third, God promises to secure our reputation. “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever” (Psalm 112:6). We often fear if we don’t succeed others will think less of us. Here, God says that He will ensure a good reputation. He will take care of our name. As he says in v. 9: “their horn will be lifted high in honor.”

Fourth, God promises to deal with those who do us wrong. “Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes” (Psalm 112:8). What about those who do us wrong? Will opposition to us go on forever and ever? No. God will deal with them. We don’t need to be preoccupied with the wrongs that people do.

The sure promise of God is the resource we have. Why do we not live in an open-hearted way? Because we are concerned about the future. We worry that we won’t be taken care of, receive good things, or have a good name. These things become our focus. God says that He will take care of those who devote themselves to Him and give freely to others. We are free to give to God and others because, as Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God, and all of these things will be given to you as well.

This is what captured the mind and heart of the Apostle Paul. He told the Corinthians that they could give freely because they knew that God would keep giving them things that they could give to others. “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever'” (2 Cor. 9:8–9).

So, if we have all these resources, why are we so often closed-hearted? Why are we so worried and anxious? Why do we hang on to our goods so tightly? Because we don’t respond correctly to this resource.

Our Response to this Resource
What should be our response? We need to understand and believe God’s promises. We need to take them in deep into our hearts. We need to replace the stories of scarcity we tell ourselves when things go wrong with stories of God’s abundance.

Notice how God is praised at the beginning of this passage. “Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands” (Psalm 112:1). This shows how glorious God is because those who fear the Lord and delight in Him are blessed. This shows us that God’s way is right. We praise God when we believe His promises and see Him as significant and great.

The key thing is that this person learns to know and believe in God’s promises. “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7). This is not the work of a day or an hour. This is something that the godly man learns after long meditation on the goodness of God. This is something that the Spirit of God teaches us through many experiences and enables us to have stability even when we get bad news. We learn to trust the Lord. If we don’t get what we want, we say, “God is good. If He does not give me this good thing, He will give me another. If He makes me experience the darkness, His light will shine for me, and in the end things will turn out well.” That is the voice of faith.

What are you telling yourself about the future? Are you telling yourself the promises of God, or are you telling yourselves the stories of the world? The stories that often dominate our minds are the stories of the right and the left. Neither one takes real account of the promises of God. To experience the peace this passage tells us about that will enable us to be open-hearted, we have to learn to trust in God’s promises.

The Result of Trusting in God’s Resources
There are two results that follow from us being able to trust in God’s resources. First, even when things go wrong, we will be able to have peace. Listen to this remarkable statement: “They will have no fear of bad news.” Consider also: “Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear.” When a person is convinced of the good things God will supply, then they know that bad news just closes one door to good things. It does not close every door to good things. God will supply good for us, and we can be confident of that.

Second, we can keep giving. It is this confidence in the Lord that enables us to look at the needs of those around us and share without fear that we will not be taken care of. It is this confidence that enables the godly man to widely distribute gifts to those around him (112:9). It is this confidence in the Lord that enables us to live open-hearted.

It’s so easy to let the threats of this world take hold of our hearts and drive our lives. However, the Word of God teaches us that those these threats are real, God is more real. He is above them all, and He offers peace in the midst of them. He can make light shine in the darkness.

So, here’s my challenge for you to consider. How does your life match up with the vision here? Are you living open-hearted? When you meet someone, is your heart ready to give, and are you ready to receive what people want to give to you? What is keeping you from being more open-hearted and generous?

The church of the first few centuries was known as having open hearts and being generous. If you needed help, you went to the Christians. What if that was what people thought again? What if people thought, this is the people you will receive grace from?

What a glorious vision God gives us here of the person who fears the Lord. They can let go of the anxieties of the world and trust in God without fear of the bad news all around us. They can trust the Lord and live in peace. Then, they can give to those around them freely and with kindness because they are confident that they will not lose themselves and be devoid of good things. God will take care of them.

That’s why this verse begins with Hallelujah, praise the Lord. We can live open-hearted because of the resources God gives us. We can give freely and well because God is working in us to make us this type of person. Our job is to get his vision and lean into what He’s already doing. It’s available for us. It is our heritage. It’s already begun. So, let’s seek to be the gracious and compassionate people that reflect the glory of our gracious and compassionate God. Amen.

Benediction: Praise the Lord. As you go out into the world this week, remember the promises of God that He will do you good. Let this give you confidence when things don’t go your way. Let it keep you giving, gracious, and kind toward all those around you.

And may the Lord make your children mighty in the land.
May he fill your houses with wealth and riches.
If darkness come, may light dawn for you.
May God give you opportunities to be generous and lend freely so you can experience the good things that come to such people.
May your name be remembered and your horn be exalted.
May you never be shaken.
May God grant you a steadfast heart, trusting in Him so that you will have no fear of bad news.
May your eyes look in triumph on your foes.
May your righteousness endure forever.

Hallelujah! Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and ever shall be forever and ever. Amen.


Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash


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