The Benefit of Giving

Psalms 112:5 came to my attention recently when a friend and I muddled through some ideas that seemed to suggest its meaning.

A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. – KJV

It is generally agreed now that “discretion” is a poor translation. So, we look at others:

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. – NIV

Good is the man — gracious and lending, He sustaineth his matters in judgment. – Young’s Literal Translation

The word “lend” is correct but does not suggest a means for making money, since, usury or interest did not gain favor with God. [Exodus 22:25].  “Gracious” or “generous” are good words.  The original suggests a charitable and compassionate spirit of giving. [Matthew 5:7]

It is the second half of the verse that puzzles me: “who conduct their affairs with justice.” Another rendering worthy our attention comes from a Hebrew lexicon on the word “conduct.”  It more correctly signifies to sustain, support or endure: “He will sustain a cause in court.”

We are thinking that the “he” here is not God but the fellow who lives by this principle of giving to the poor. He will discover that his way of living supports him in turn when his hour of need comes. The idea here might be that a giving heart is a wise motivator while conducting our own affairs.  When greed dominates our interests, we are heading toward an inevitable crash and burn scenario.

Also: even though the idea is good theology,  the word “judgment,” here, I don’t   believe means divine or final judgment. The merciful in this life will in turn receive mercy from God in the next, but, I want to think that somehow the Psalmist is saying that a giving spirit will support us in ways we have yet to imagine.  There is an unseen wisdom in giving.  Charity is an investment in our own lives worth considering!

I lean toward a free translation which might read something like this:

A good man lives by this principle: he is a charitable giver and will lend to the poor. A giving spirit is a fair spirit, a fairness in his dealings that governs his life and sustains him.

Verses 6 & 7 add: He will not discard this way of life in times of panic; he does not fear bad news. He has learned to trust God.

  • The best answer to our own need is addressing the needs of others. [2 Corinthians 8:2].
  • The best way to be prepared for fearful times—that seem to find us all—is to live  ….charitably. [Proverbs 14:21; 19:17]
  • Learning to trust God is not an exercise in academia.  It is an exercise in giving. [Psalm 18:25; Proverbs 14:31]
  • A generous spirit, reaching out to help another, is an exercise in faith that does not react to fear. [Proverbs 21:13; 22:9]

The Message translation reads “…Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people—
God’s grace and mercy and justice!”

Something to reflect on….

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