“Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.”
The first five verses of this Psalm lay down the basic habits of a righteous person: a healthy fear of the Lord, a delight in God’s commandments, one who is gracious, full of compassion, fair in his dealings with others, who lends and lives with discretion. All of those things sound wonderful, but realistically in a sinful world this is completely counter-cultural making it often difficult to live the righteous life we’ve been called to. However, God’s commands are often followed by promises which is where we find ourselves in verse six, the beginning of the list of promises enjoyed by the righteous.
Oftentimes it would seem there is much to be shaken up about so great are the problems around us. We find ourselves distracted wondering what the point is in doing the right thing. Does it make any difference? Does God even notice? It’s tempting to quit, thinking it futile, and just live our lives and try to get by. But then I’m reminded of people like Dietrich Bonhoffer. What if he had given up? How many prisoners in the Nazi concentration camp where he was imprisoned would have died never hearing about Christ?
What if the Coptic Christians had renounced their faith in the face of certain death? Where would the Church in Egypt be?
What if Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Iranian pastor Saeed imprisoned in Iran for his faith, had retreated after hearing of her husband’s imprisonment? Who would have shared the gospel with the United Nations? Who would have been the voice of support on national radio and TV for those imprisoned for their faith?
II Corinthians 6:7-10 has the most encouraging take on the topic:
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed-always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
What torch do you need to pick back up and carry? And what are the benefits of remaining strong?
There is a conversation that takes place frequently at my house. It goes something like this:
Kid: Mom, we’re going to go get baseball pants today, right?
Kid: I thought we were going to go get my pants today.
Me: What are you talking about?
Kid: We talked about this. My first game is in two days.
Me: This is the first I’m hearing about it.
Kid: Seriously? We just had this conversation yesterday. Don’t you remember?
Me: I have no recollection of this.
Kid: You don’t remember anything.
Me: Silently combing through the stacks of mental clutter searching for that elusive conversation.
The specifics of the conversation change depending on the situation, but the theme, my forgetfulness, is always the same. If I were 30 years older I would be concerned that something serious was wrong. For now, I’m chalking it up to a cruel joke that both my age and gender are playing on me.
Thankfully, God’s memory is not subject to human failure. In verse 6 of Psalm 112 He assures us that the righteous will be remembered forever. Having spent much of Matthew 25 telling the disciples that in giving to the poor, they are giving to the very Savior, He explains that not only are their works remembered, they are rewarded with eternal reward. Not to mistake works as a means to salvation, they are an important part of our relationship with Christ. They are the proving ground for our salvation, the proof of a Savior to the outside world, and a partnership with God in expanding His kingdom.
Conversely, God’s memory “gives out” when it comes to our sin. One of the things most amazing about Him is His selective memory, if you will.
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 10:16, 17
“’This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’”
Isaac Newton is remembered for his discovery of gravity and his contribution to modern physics.
Ernest Hemingway will be remembered as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.
Beethoven will be remembered as one of the most influential composers during the time music was transitioning between the Classical and Romantic eras.
Dr. Alexander Fleming will always be remembered as the inventor of penicillin, making it the most widely used antibiotic in the world to date.
As long as history is taught these and others like them will continually be remembered and discussed. Though most of us will never be mentioned in the history books for anything noteworthy, that which we do for others out of our love for God will be remembered and rewarded by Him for eternity.
Verse six is both a reminder and an encouragement to stay strong and to hold onto the hope of His remembering us for eternity.