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The Morning After

November 12, 2012

Psalm 112

1 Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments

2 His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.

3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.

4 Light arises in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.

5 It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He will maintain his cause in judgment.

6 For he will never be shaken; the righteous will be remembered forever.

7 He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

8 His heart is upheld, he will not fear, until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries.

9 He has given freely to the poor, His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted in honor.

10 The wicked will see it and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked will perish.

After a restless night’s sleep, in which I constantly told myself, in my dreams that is, it’s only a bad dream, I awoke November 7th like many others; groggy and shell-shocked. What had just happened? It’s one thing to see your favorite team beat again by a perennial rival, quite another to helplessly watch your country go up in flames.

While many were still dancing in the streets, tweeting away, I was staring at a cup of coffee, depressed and disillusioned. What was going to be a happy day of flag waving, executed contracts and redeployment, would be spent popping balloons in the rafters and tossing confetti bags into the dumpster.

Then the still small voice yelled, “Psalm 112.” Why? I don’t know. It was just a number pulled out of thin air, sure, but the Almighty God called it. I turned there knowing I desperately needed to hear his take on all this.

For future reference, you should know that when emotions run high, turn to the psalms. When you need perspective, turn to the psalms. When you need wisdom, turn to the psalms. When you need a soft shoulder, turn to the psalms. They will calm the heart and breathe new life.

Psalm 112 is the acrostic wisdom song of an ancient sage. It loses its structure in the translation, but you could probably force something to match what it teaches using the word “blessed.” But that’s for another, more whimsical time.

On that grim morning—and maybe not since then from this particular psalm—the ancient sage answered my questions.

But first he asked me a few questions, and really, we could have stopped there.

Do you fear the Lord? Yes. Do you delight in his word? Yes. Well then, shouldn’t you be happy? Head down, head nodding, right foot digging an imaginary hole, I muttered a faint, “I guess so.” But he politely allowed me to begin my inquiry anyway.

Should I keep worrying about the kind of world my kids will live in? No. They will be “mighty on the earth,” don’t worry. As for me, my generation “will be blessed.” I’ve got to take him at his word on this one.

Government does not spawn great people, families do.

Should I worry about dwindling wealth and poor economic prospects? No. Look around. Do I have a place I can call home? Yes. Four walls, a ceiling and floor, and a kitchen table? Yes. Who’s around that table? Sons and daughters. Who’s at the end? My wife. Indeed, wealth and riches are “in his house!”

Are there only dark days ahead? For the godly man, a new day dawns each day. “Light arises in the darkness for the upright.”

How will I know I’ve turned the corner back into “hope?” When I’m capable of being gracious and compassionate again. The Lord is not looking for me to pull myself up by the bootstraps, but to refocus on others.

Should I cave on my principles and beliefs? Of course not. A righteous man “maintains his cause in judgment.”

Should I be shaking in my boots? The godly man “will never be shaken.” “He will not fear evil tidings.” “His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” “His heart is upheld,” i.e. supported, “he will not fear.”

How can I get some revenge? How do I exact my pound of flesh for all the shenanigans that have just occurred? Just the opposite. The godly man is gracious and lends, for heaven’s sake! This is a tough pill to swallow with all the hands out these days. Besides, I happen to remember something about, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

When will evil people get their just due? The wicked who see the righteous continuing to do good in adversity are vexed (old fashioned for angry), gnash (grind) their teeth, and melt away (completely lose heart). Want to make the evil mad? Do more good things.

In troubled times, remind yourself of who you revere and who you obey–God not man. When you look to and dwell in the vertical realm of the Lord God Jehovah, you can’t help but be happy. But if your perspective is not altered in such a way, there’s fear, but not the godly kind, and gratification from anything or any person is fleeting. Government does not spawn great people, families do. The upright man of the house, who fears the Lord, who follows God’s laws, who lives and breathes the truth, will produce a new and next generation of “upright men” (straight, conscientious). They, in turn, will inherit the land, be happy and likely bless their generation. And in light of economic uncertainly and decline, true wealth is not measured in dollars and cents, but in the strength of one’s character (God’s) and contribution to society (God’s grace).

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