Psalm 112

Psalm 112[a]

The Blessings of the Righteous

1 Alleluia.

Blessed[b] is the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his precepts.
2 His descendants will be powerful upon the earth;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.[c]
3 His house will be filled with wealth and riches,[d]
and his righteousness will endure forever.
4 He shines as a light for the upright in the darkness;
kindness, mercy, and justice are his hallmarks.[e]
5 The future bodes well[f] for him
who is generous in helping those in need
and who conducts his affairs with justice.
6 [g]He will never be swayed;
the righteous man will be remembered forever.
7 He has no fear of bad news,
for his heart remains steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 Since his heart is tranquil, he will not be afraid,
and he will witness the downfall of his enemies.
9 He bestows gifts lavishly on the poor;
his righteousness will endure forever,
and his horn[h] will be exalted in glory.
10 The wicked will be furious when he sees this,
gnashing his teeth and pining away;
the desires of the wicked will be fruitless.[i]

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 112:1 This psalm provides the same literary characteristics as the preceding one and most likely stems from the same unknown author. By their theme the two chants complete one another. The first celebrates the divine perfections and works, while the second sings of the virtues and deeds of the true righteous person and the happiness he attains.
    The ancients believed that the man who faithfully observed the law and was solicitous of his neighbor was assured prosperity, posterity, and renown. In this psalm a sage once again praises the righteous in these terms, but he adds another more mystical religious sentiment. In effect, applying to the righteous the qualities that the preceding psalm attributed to the Lord, he wishes to show that by dint of placing his delight in the will of the Lord, the righteous man ends up resembling him. Hence, the law is not a burden imposed from without, but a power that transforms the heart. To obey is to let oneself be invaded by the sentiments of God: mercy, tenderness, and righteousness. Is there any other source of happiness?
    This psalm is also very suitable for describing the Christian ideal, the perfection we must achieve in the steps of the Master and the happiness we will find therein.
  2. Psalm 112:1 Blessed is the man who follows unswervingly God’s will and call. Blessed: see note on Ps 1:1. Fears the Lord: see note on Ps 15:2-5.
  3. Psalm 112:2 The upright man is blessed in his children and brings blessings on them (see Pss 37:26; 127:3-5; 128:3).
  4. Psalm 112:3 Wealth and riches: see Pss 1:3; 128:2. His righteousness: i.e., his happiness, his successes, and his well-being. There is a tacit comparison of the upright person’s righteousness to God’s (they both endure forever: see Ps 111:3b). Some scholars translate the word “righteousness” as “generosity,” claiming that the original meaning of the Hebrew word in a later period of the language also acquired the meaning of “liberality, almsgiving” (see Sir 3:30; 7:10; Mt 6:1f).
  5. Psalm 112:4 The goodness of the righteous man overflows to others. He acts in the same way as God does (see Ps 111:4b). This is brought out more clearly by the older Catholic rendition: “He dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright; / he is gracious and compassionate and righteous.”
  6. Psalm 112:5 Future bodes well: i.e., well-being and prosperity await him (see Ps 34:9-15). Good is also the quality of the righteous man. He is good in that he is generous (see Pss 34:9-11; 37:21). Just as all the Lord’s works are “faithful and right” (see Ps 111:7), so the upright man conducts his affairs with justice.
  7. Psalm 112:6 The righteous man observes the commandments of God that are “established forever and ever” (Ps 111:8); hence “he will never be swayed” (Ps 112:6) and has no fear (v. 7), for his heart is tranquil (v. 8). His trust is in the Lord in spite of bad news, reasons to be afraid, or problems with others (vv. 7-8).
  8. Psalm 112:9 As God’s name is held in holy awe (see Ps 111:9), so the righteous will be held in honor. Paul uses this verse to support the principle that “if you sow generously, you will reap generously as well” (2 Cor 9:6, 9). Horn: here symbolizes dignity.
  9. Psalm 112:10 The only alternative way of life to that of the righteous is bitter, transient, and futile.