Psalm 112:5

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 5. A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth. Having passed beyond stern integrity into open handed benevolence he looks kindly upon all around him, and finding himself in circumstances which enable him to spare a little of his wealth he lends judiciously where a loan will be of permanent service. Providence has made him able to lend, and grace makes him willing to lend. He is not a borrower, for God has lifted him above that necessity; neither is he a hoarder, for his new nature saves him from that temptation; but he wisely uses the talents committed to him.

He will guide his affairs with discretion. Those who neglect their worldly business must not plead religion as an excuse, for when a man is truly upright he exercises great care in managing his accounts, in order that he may remain so. It is sometimes hard to distinguish between indiscretion and dishonesty; carelessness in business may become almost as great an evil to others as actual knavery; a good man should not only be upright, but he should be so discreet that no one may have the slightest reason to suspect him of being otherwise. When the righteous man lends he exercises prudence, not risking his all, for fear he should not be able to lend again, and not lending so very little that the loan is of no service. He drives his affairs, and does not allow them to drive him; his accounts are straight and clear, his plans are wisely laid, and his modes of operation carefully selected. He is prudent, thrifty, economical, sensible, judicious, discreet. Men call him a fool for his religion, but they do not find him so when they come to deal with him. "The beginning of wisdom" has made him wise, the guidance of heaven has taught him to guide his affairs, and with half an eye one can see that he is a man of sound sense. Such persons greatly commend godliness. Alas, some professedly good men act as if they had taken leave of their senses; this is not religion, but stupidity. True religion is sanctified common sense. Attention to the things of heaven does not necessitate the neglect of the affairs of earth; on the contrary, he who has learned how to transact business with God ought to be best able to do business with men. The children of this world often are in their generation wiser than the children of light, but there is no reason why this proverb should continue to be true.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 5. A good man sheweth favour, etc. Consider that power to do good is a dangerous ability, unless we use it. Remember that it is God who giveth wealth, and that he expects some answerable return of it. Live not in such an inhuman manner as if Nabal and Judas were come again into the world. Think frequently and warmly of the love of God and Jesus to you. You will not deny your crumbs to the miserable, when you thankfully call to mind that Christ gave for you his very flesh and blood. Consider as one great end of poverty is patience, so one great end of wealth is charity. Think how honourable it is to make a present to the great King of the world; and what a condescension it is in his all sufficiency to do that good by us, which he could so abundantly do without us. -- Thomas Tenison, 1636-1715.

Verse 5. Lendeth. The original word here, hwl, lavah, means to join oneself to any one; to cleave to him; then to form the union which is constituted between debtor and creditor, borrower and lender. Here it is used in the latter sense, and it means that a good man will accommodate another -- a neighbour -- with money, or with articles to be used temporarily and returned again. A man who always borrows is not a desirable neighbour; but a man who never lends -- who never is willing to accommodate -- is a neighbour that no one would wish to live near -- a crooked, perverse, bad man. True religion will always dispose a man to do acts of kindness in any and every way possible. --Albert Barnes.

Verse 5. Charity though it springs in the heart should be guided by the head, that it may spread itself abroad to the best advantage.

He will guide his affairs with discretion, and no affairs are so properly the good man's own as the dispensation and stewardship of those blessings which God has entrusted him with, for "it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful." --Michael Cox, 1748.

Verse 5. He will guide his affairs with discretion. Just as a steward, servant, or agent in any secular concern has to feel that his mind is his master's, as well as his hands, and that his attention, thought, tact, and talent, should be vigorously and faithfully given to the interests of his employer; so the Christian stewardship of money, demands on the part of God's servant, in respect to every form of its use and disposal, the exercise of reflection; a reference to conscience; the recollection of responsibility to God; attention to the appeals of humanity as addressed to the ear of justice and love. Everything is to be weighed as in the balance of the sanctuary; a decision formed; and then energy, skill, schemes, and plans wisely constructed, prudential limitations or beneficent liberality as may seem best. Spending, saving, giving, or lending, all being done so as best to meet what may be felt to be the Master's will, and what may best evince at once the wisdom and the fidelity of his servant. --Thomas Binney, in "Money: a Popular Exposition in Rough Notes," 1865.

Verse 5. Discretion. There is a story, concerning divers ancient Fathers, that they came to St. Anthony, enquiring of him, what virtue did by a direct line lead to perfection, that so a man might shun the snares of Satan. He bade every one of them speak his opinion; one said, watching and sobriety; another said, fasting and discipline; a third said, humble prayer; a fourth said, poverty and obedience; and another, piety and works of mercy; but when every one had spoken his mind, his answer was, That all these were excellent graces indeed, but discretion was the chief of them all. And so beyond doubt it is; being the very Auriga virtutum, the guide of all virtuous and religious actions, the moderator and orderer of all the affections; for whatsoever is done with it is virtue, and what without it is vice. An ounce of discretion is said to be worth a pound of learning. As zeal without knowledge is blind, so knowledge without discretion is lame, like a sword in a madman's hand, able to do much, apt to do nothing. Tolle hanc et virtus vitium erit. He that will fast must fast with discretion, he must so mortify that he does not kill his flesh; he that gives alms to the poor, must do it with discretion, Omni petenti non omnia petenti -- to every one that doth ask, but not everything that he doth ask; so likewise pray with discretion, observing place and time; place, lest he be reputed a hypocrite; time, lest he be accounted a heretic. Thus it is that discretion is to be made the guide of all religious performances. --Quoted by John Spencer, 1658.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 5.

  1. A good man is benevolent, but a benevolent man is not always good.
  2. A good man is prudent, but a prudent man is not always a good man. There must first be goodness and then its fruits. "Make the tree good," etc. -- G.R.

Verse 5. "Lending."

  1. It is to be done.
  2. It is to be done as a favour; borrowing is seeking alms.
  3. It should be done very discreetly. Add to this a homily on borrowing and repaying.