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Immovable, Firm, Steady

A few days ago I read Psalms 111 and 112 (which, most scholars agree, are a pair that are linked together). I was powerfully struck, once again, by the lessons in these psalms.
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There’s a lot of value we can extract from these psalms, but one thing really jumps out, given the serious and troubling events swirling in the world around us.  Some verses in 112 include a message we really need right now, it seems to me.

Verse 6:

“For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.”

Do you feel like you’re immovable, rock-solid?  Me neither.  Which causes us to ask:  Does this mean we aren’t righteous?  I guess it’s possible.  I think, though, that this statement isn’t intended to provoke guilt.  Instead, it’s an exhortation to us who are made righteous by grace.  God says, “Look, I’ve got you!  I count your faith as righteousness.  Don’t you see what that means?  Nothing can shake you loose from me!  I will remember you forever!”

Verse 7:

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.”

Our hearts are firm when we trust the Lord

This is the part that hit me the most, the message we need the most.  Around us there’s so much fear, and it’s because there is a lot of bad news.  We might wonder, how can we not be afraid?  The answer is right there.  Our hearts are firm when we trust the Lord.  We trust Him not to forget us.  This doesn’t mean the bad news goes away!  (Did we honestly think the last days wouldn’t have heaps upon heaps of bad news?  Of course not.)  So the bad news remains bad—but it doesn’t terrify us if we’re trusting the Lord to remember us.

Verse 8:

“His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.”

Repeated and emphasized: not afraid.  But what’s this about looking in triumph on our enemies?  Is this talking about human beings who are enemies?  Humanly speaking, it sure looks like the enemies prevailed over the prophets, the Lord Jesus, the apostles.  But the real enemies, we know, are sin and death, and these did not prevail!  Nor, in the ultimate sense, did the immediate enemies.

Jesus was murdered, yes, but he rose again—the enemies only seemed to prevail, for a time.  It will be the same, ultimately, for whatever is arrayed against us – disease, hate, violence, turmoil…any of the enemies that seem so close and seem to be winning.  How can our heart be steady in the face of all this?  We trust: we are remembered forever.

we can abound in the Lord’s work, rock-solid in our knowledge that in the Lord our labor is not wasted.

I don’t know if the apostle Paul had these verses actively in mind, but it’s almost as if he’s paraphrasing them or at least building on them in the conclusion of his great essay on resurrection:

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

Immovable, firm, steady, victorious – the message of both the psalmist and the apostle.  How?  Remember we are remembered.  Trust.  Know the enemies will be defeated, indeed we will look in triumph on their defeat, especially “the last enemy to be destroyed is death”.  And therefore we can abound in the Lord’s work, rock-solid in our knowledge that in the Lord our labor is not wasted.

Easier said, right?  But if we feel daunted, feel like we can’t live up to this standard, we need to also look at the psalms that implore God to see our anguish and our weakness, and beg Him to rescue.

Look at Paul begging, pleading with the Lord to remove the thorn.

Look at Jesus begging the Father to remove the cup.

None of these found it easy to be steadfast, immovable.  So if we aren’t finding it easy, we are in excellent company, the very best company.  What we learn from all of them is so crucial:  As they did, we can in fact arrive at trust, and from trust, fearlessness—no matter how bad the news.

Paul Zilmer
Bloomington, Illinois


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