Psalm 112 (NRSV)
Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments. Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever; their horn is exalted in honor. The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.
One particular aspect of our Presbyterian faith that I’ve always cherished is our collective optimism. For example, we often begin Sunday morning worship with the following passage from Psalm 118: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” What a great way to start the week! The poetry of Psalm 112 serves as a good example of how we are blessed with this God-inspired sense of optimism.
In these times some may question this optimism. Moving into the third year of the pandemic, seeing deep political and social fractures in our country, concerns about the new war in Europe, and witnessing global environmental and climate challenges: Is our optimism really warranted? And how about friends and family who have recently experienced serious illness and death in their lives?
The inherent Spiritual optimism of this Psalm shows us a way ahead. This optimism originates from God. After all, we’re created in God’s image, claimed by God in our Baptism, and ultimately saved by God through God’s grace alone. Optimism, based on worldly issues, inevitably comes and goes as events unwind. Spiritual optimism, as shown in this Psalm, is different. It originates with God. As we live our lives filled with God’s inspired optimism, we are obligated to communicate with God. In our prayers, we should talk to God, and also listen toGod. With prayer, we will “delight in his commandments . . . (see that) our hearts are firm . . . and (feel) secure in the Lord.”
Lord, as we think about Psalm 112, know that we are grateful for your continued presence in our lives. Hear our prayers for understanding, and help us listen closely to your will. Amen.