Stuart Briscoe, in his autobiography, ‘Flowing Streams’, recalls a mission at Manchester University, in which, during a ‘Question Time’, John Stott was aggressively asked, ‘’How can there be a God when there is so much evil in the world?’’ Briscoe says that as well as he can remember, Stott replied, ‘’My dear young friend, I have asked myself that question a thousand times but always coupled with another question of equal importance, namely, ‘How can there not be a God when there is so much good in the world?’ We cannot ask the one without the other, can we?’’ (pp.47, 48)
The truth is that in this fallen world, scarred by suffering and pain, bad things happen, even to good people. This beautiful psalm speaks of a man who fears God and is committed to His ways. It does not say that he will receive no ‘’bad news’’ (think about what happened to that ‘’gracious and compassionate and righteous man’’ Job), but only that he will not ‘’fear’’ it (7). He has a ‘’secure’’ (8) and ‘’steadfast’’ (7) heart that comes from ‘’trusting in the LORD.’’ (7). There is an absence of ‘’fear’’ (8; Luke 1:74, 75). ‘’Even in darkness’’ he has ‘’light’’ (4), and he takes the long view (8b). Whatever ‘’bad news’’ may pay him a visit in the short term, he knows that ‘’in the end’’ it is all good news. ‘’Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people – God’s grace and mercy and justice!’’ The Message.
Godly people are not necessarily prosperous, but they may be (3). There are many, many godly poor in the world, but there are also the godly wealthy. Of course, at different stages in their lives, believers may experience both poverty and plenty (Phil.4:11-13). But one thing that marks people who ‘fear the Lord’ and have a lot of money is this: the ‘’Wealth and riches’’ that are in their houses (3a) are not hoarded there. They are generously shared (5) and given away (9; see 1 Timothy 6:17-19). ‘’Their houses brim with wealth And a generosity that never runs dry…The good person is generous and lends lavishly…They lavish gifts on the poor – A generosity that goes on, and on, and on. An honoured life! A beautiful life! The Message. Ungodly people who just want to have lots of lovely lolly for themselves, look with envy (10) when they see the blessing of God on those who fear Him and honour Him with their lives (including their goods). They can’t work it out. They just don’t get it. So they become angry, seeing something of what they want, but it eludes them.
Just as it is important to point out that godly people are not all, and always, wealthy, so it needs to be said that they don’t all have trouble-free times with their children. This psalm should not be taken as a cast iron guarantee that the children raised in believing homes will always turn out well. Nevertheless, it must be said that those children who do grow up in Christian homes are in a place of privilege and blessing (2). They are exposed to the example of their parents day after day, and they are the recipients of so much teaching and prayer. It is not surprising that many do turn out to be ‘’mighty in the land’’ (2). This is a great prayer to pray for your children, wherever they are today.
Prayer: Help me Lord to be fearless and generous as I seek to love you, worship you and honour you in every detail of my life. Thank you for your truly undeserved blessings.