Steadfast Hearts

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Devotional Word for Wednesday, June 17, 2020

What is it that allows God’s people to stand with a firm resolve in days of tumult? Like Peter and the apostles did when jailed, beaten, threatened, and ordered to stop talking about Jesus? That’s the question we raised yesterday. I said we would look at Psalm 112 and Psalm 111 to gain some insight about this. We want to be like the fellow described in 112:7: He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Psalm 112 begins this way: Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears [reveres] the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments. The blessing is for the one who fears, that is, rightly reveres, the Lord. Psalm 111:2 is helpful for understanding what this might look like. Here’s what it says: Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them.

Psalm 111 goes on to document three areas of God’s work that are studied. First, the realm of nature, that is, the awesomeness of creation.  He has made His wonders to be remembered. [111:4a] In nature we see amazing complexity, eye-opening beauty, and fearsome, overwhelming power. God created and controls all that. O, what a delight to study that!

Second, we see God’s provision, He has given food . . . [111:5a]. Psalm 145 expresses it this way: The Lord is good to all, and His mercies over all His works . . . The eyes of all look to [Him], and [He] gives them food in due time. [He] opens [His] hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing. [145:9,15-16] God provides for all of creation, especially His people. Study this.

Third, God’s people look down through history and see His power of deliverance. He has made known to His people the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. [111:6] That is to say, God wins in the end. Every time. Without fail. As Revelation 11:15 says, The kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ. No question about it, there are ups and down throughout history, but God is a God of deliverances and He insures that His people have final deliverance. We need to study that.

Those who study the works of the Lord, thus, are those who right fear/revere Him and, as such, are blessed just as Psalm 112:1 says.

But we dare not forget the second part of Psalm 112:1. It describes one whose fear/revere of the Lord means he is one Who greatly delights in His commandments. One way we might think of this is in terms of seeing and hearing. The first part of 112:1 is about seeing God’s work, while the second part is about hearing what God says. Two sides of one coin! Just as God orders the natural order of His creation, so He orders the behavioral or moral order of His creation. 

Psalm 111:7-8 speaks of this ordering. The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His precepts are sure. They are upheld forever and ever; they are performed in truth and uprightness. There is nothing more delightful than God’s Word, God’s command, God’s promise, God’s Law. It does not change; it is upheld forever and ever. Regardless of the uproar of the nations as they seek to throw off God’s Word, which they regard as binding fetters and cords preventing them from doing what they want to do, God’s order does not change. They make an uproar to their own hurt, to their own demise. 

Now we begin to understand how verse 4 of Psalm 112 can declare, Light arises in the darkness for the upright. That light is the ongoing reign and rule of God, the One who has established His throne in the heavens, and whose sovereignty rules over all. [see Ps. 103:19] Psalm 112 ends by articulating what the man who fears the Lord knows: The desire of the wicked will perish. And now we understand how verse 7 of Psalm 112 is at the very heart of how the one blessed by God goes through life in tumultuous times: He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 

That, I believe, is a description of Peter and the apostles in Act 5 that we looked at yesterday. They were blessed folk. They feared/revered the Lord and greatly delighted in His commandments. They purposed to obey God rather than man. 

May God give us grace to fear/revere the Lord, likewise, and greatly delight in His commandments. As we do so, we will not fear evil tidings, even in the most tumultuous of times, for our hearts will be steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Let us pray: Ah, Lord God! You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You. You show lovingkindness to thousands, but you bring the iniquity of the wicked on their own heads. The desires of the wicked perish. Your eyes see the hearts and innermost thoughts of all men, nothing is hidden from You. Therefore, we throw ourselves upon Your mercy, and trust in Your abundant grace to protect, bless, and guide us through these tumultuous days in which we live. May Your name be honored, and may Your will be done, here on earth even as it is in heaven. Amen.