Like the previous psalm, Psalm 112 opens with the words “praise Yah,” transliterated Alleloúia (Hallelujah) in the Septuagint. “Yah” is the abbreviated form of the divine name (YHWH), which incorporates the verb meaning “to be.” It identifies the Almighty as the ultimate source of everything that exists and that will come to be in fulfillment of his word and purpose. The name stands as a sure guarantee that he would never deviate from what he has declared or revealed he would prove himself to be.
The man who has a reverential regard for YHWH is pronounced happy, fortunate, or in an enviable state of well-being. In the noblest sense of the word, he is a “man” (’ish), one who finds great delight in observing YHWH’s commands.
The godly man gives his children a good start in life, leaving them a noble heritage. As a result, his “seed” or offspring would come to be “great” in the land. This could include their being prosperous and recognized as valuable members of the community. “The generation of the upright” would be blessed, enjoying God’s loving care.
Guided by wisdom, the godly man would work diligently and not waste resources. So he would prosper, with “wealth [glory, LXX] and riches” being in his house. His “righteousness” would “stand” or remain forever (“into the age of the age,” or for ages to come, LXX). This could signify that future generations would remember him as a notable upright person.
Even in the darkness, in hard times or when prospects appear to be gloomy, “light” would dawn for the upright. That “light” could include hope for relief, based on their confidence in God’s loving concern.
Verse 4 concludes with three adjectives—gracious (merciful, LXX), merciful (compassionate, LXX), and righteous. These terms may describe the godly man. Numerous translations make this significance explicit. “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.” (NIV) “Light shines in the darkness for good people, for those who are merciful, kind, and just.” (GNT, Second Edition) “When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.” (NLT) Other translations represent the gracious, merciful, and righteous as being a light to others. “They shine through the darkness, a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and just.” (NAB) “They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.” (NRSV) “They will be so kind and merciful and good, that they will be a light in the dark for others who do the right thing.” (CEV)
Good would come to the man who deals generously and lends. He would be generous in providing assistance to the needy. His lending to the poor, as the Mosaic law directed, would be without charging interest. He would conduct “his affairs in justice,” being honest in all his business dealings.
The upright person is in a secure position. For all time to come, the righteous one would never be moved. He would never be deprived of everything as are those whose lawlessness catches up with them. For all time to come, the upright one would be remembered as a godly person.
Faced with bad news, he would not give in to fear. His heart or deep inner self would remain firm or steadfast, not succumbing to alarm or disquietude. This is because of his trusting in YHWH to come to his aid.
Although enemies may threaten him, he would be at rest in his heart or in a state of calmness in his deep inner self. This would continue until he would see the end for his foes.
The godly person’s “scattering” evidently denotes generous giving to many. His compassionate concern for the poor would be reflected in his freely giving to them, alleviating their distress. For his righteousness to remain forever suggests that, for all time to come, he would be remembered for having done what is right. The upright person’s “horn is exalted in honor.” Being a symbol of power, the “horn” and its exaltation “in honor” could refer to his being highly respected as an influential member of the community.
The wicked one (“sinner,” LXX) sees how well matters have turned out for the upright person and becomes jealously enraged, gnashing his teeth. In time, the wicked one “melts away” (like snow) or comes to his end. The desire or longing of the wicked ones (“sinner,” LXX) would not be satisfied but would come to nothingness.
Note: For additional comments regarding the divine name (YHWH), see Psalm 1.