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Psalm 112:1-9 1
1 Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. 2 Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. 5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. 6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. 7 They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. 9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.

Background

Psalm 112 has a special interconnection with the prior psalm, 111. Psalm 111 is about a righteous God.  Psalm 112 is about the man that God makes righteous. Now the work “righteous” in the Bible is a special word meaning “always doing what is right.” In fact, only God is completely righteous. But the people who love and obey God are also considered righteous. They are not righteous because they alway do what is right; they are righteous because God gives them the gift of righteousness.  This means that when God looks at them, he sees them as righteous.  Righteousness is a gift that God gives to people who:

  • Are sorry that they have done wrong things;
  • Promise to try not to do them again;
  • Take the help that God gives to them.

We do not know who wrote Psalm 112 nor do we know why it was written. The psalm begins with an invitation to praise the Lord and then goes on to say what happens when we do. If we fear (honor and respect) then we will find delight in God’s commandments.  This should be considered a nice contrast to those who gripe and complain about God’s commandments. We are to think of them as a joy instead of a burden.

Bible Truths and Theology

According to the psalm, their descendents will be mighty. It indicates that strength comes from the Lord and the generation of the upright will be blessed. This suggests to us that such blessings are generation specific.  In other words, each generation must respond to God on their own. One cannot depend upon the righteousness of parents or grandparents or any of our forbears.  We ourselves as a generation must be upright. The psalm speaks of tangible blessings – in fact wealth and riches. Wealth being an abundance of valuable possessions or money; and riches meaning valuable material possessions.

Notice that the people discussed in the psalm are not lazy. They get up early and serve as the “light” for the righteous.  This is the way it is done, other righteous people inspire us to be righteous.  We want to emulate them, learn from them, and follow them, as one follows a light. From a godly point of view, it is good that they conduct their business in an above board manner.

Verse 7: In Hebrew poems, “heart” means “mind,” the part of us that thinks. A steady heart is one that does not change. It does not think something different when bad news comes because the the heart trusts in the Lord. To trust in the Lord is to KNOW that the Lord will give you help when you need it.

Verse 8: Until (God) destroys His enemies “is” until what the good man wants to happen to his enemies when a person lives righteously. It is a good advertisement or incentive or encouragement to do exactly that.

Items for Discussion

  • What are the qualities of righteousness?
  • How can a person achieve righteousness?
  • What are the blessings of righteousness? Which of those stands out for you and why?
  • How can a righteous person serve as a light for others?
  • How does being righteous and asking God to destroy one’s enemies “fit?”
  • In Hebrew poetry makes people think with their heart. What does it mean to think with your heart?

Mark 1:19-20
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Background

Jesus is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  He had just called Peter and Andrew and now he is calling James and John to become His followers or disciples.  Although this is a short passage, we can find much in its words to help us with understanding the Christian life.

Bible Truths and Theology

First, notice that Jesus “goes on a little farther”. The sense we have is that he is walking with a purpose. This is no ordinary stroll Jesus is taking. He has a group of followers to invite. He has  a plan for their lives. We want to remember this when we are in challenging times. Jesus is going on a little farther. He is going farther than we might hope or expect him to go. Christ has a purpose for each of us. He is the one who invites, and who leads, and who teaches us. If you are discouraged, please try to picture Jesus going on a little farther, for you.

Next, we read that Christ saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. James is mentioned first here, even though we know more about John and might expect John to be mentioned first. James may have been the elder brother, and that would be reason enough for James to be the first of the pair who were mentioned. Or there may be other reasons.

Zebedee would have been moderately well off as a fisherman-middle class even though they did not use that term. He operated his own small business. A family business no doubt of many years standing. Probably Zebedee’s father and grandfather were fishermen before him.

At the point that Jesus sees them, they are in their boat and they are mending their nets. The boat is not out on the water. It is at the shore. The work they are doing is the background work, the preparation work. It is like when you put the blue tape up before you paint a room. Painting is more enjoyable than putting up the tape. Putting the tape up can take longer than painting. But it is important. Mending the nets, while not as glamorous and exciting as being out on the sea, must be done. Mending the nets will make the next day’s fishing more successful. Without mending them, the catch would be less. There may be some net mending things that are waiting our attention today.

When Jesus called, they left “immediately”. This is one of Mark’s favorite words, along with “astonished” and “amazed”. Mark’s whole Gospel is filled with things happening “immediately”. We like that. We live in an age where if it doesn’t happen immediately, we get frustrated. Maybe people have been like that always, but it seems more pronounced in our era. In this instance, the brothers leaving the boat, and the nets, and their father, immediately, may indicate that an eager response to Jesus’ call is “the norm”. Or it may be that an immediate response to Christ was in keeping with these two men who were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder”.

They followed Him. We want to consider that word “followed” -it is the action word in the phrase. What does it mean to follow? If you follow someone on Facebook, you keep aware of their posts-their words and their photos, the things that are going on in their lives. You develop a relationship with them, as you like or respond to what they post. The same is true when you follow Jesus. You check in with him often. You know what is happening in the world of faith, you see things that are important to him. You “like” (praise) and “respond” (pray).

Items for Discussion

  • In life, what does it mean to go on a little farther? How does Jesus go on a little farther for us?
  • Why do you think that James is usually mentioned first when he are John are both mentioned?
  • What did James give up when he followed Jesus? What did he gain?
  • What kind of things are like “mending our nets?”
  • James and John followed Jesus immediately.  What do you think of that? What about people who follow Jesus eventually?
  • Is it harder to follow or lead? Please explain?

Discussion Challenge

  • What is the roll of the church in enabling its members to “immediately” follow Jesus?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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