Buy Dirt

Buy Dirt

Psalm 112

Jordan Davis was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on March 30, 1988.  He grew up attending church at an early age where his mom played piano in a Southern Baptist church.  In one interview he said that he grew up attending church at least three times a week, twice on Sundays and once on Wednesday nights.  His EP, released in 2020, includes a song titled “Church in a Chevy”, a song about Jordan’s faith and how God is not only found in church buildings.[1] He said of his faith, God “wants a relationship with all of us, but sometimes we don’t wanna hear it. For me, the way that I get to listen is getting by myself and getting quiet and really working on hearing what he’s got to say. That’s when I feel like I’m most in-tune with the good Lord.”[2] 

About one year after the release of his EP, Davis released his song, Buy Dirt.  Davis describes the songs on his Buy Dirt EP as a ‘returning to his roots’ as a song writer and musician.  He said that he would not have been able to develop his latest album, “without the re-shifting of priorities he experienced over the course of the last couple of years, due to pandemic shutdowns as well as becoming a new father.”  He further explained why he wrote Buy Dirt, “I’m in a different spot in my life than I was when I released Home State. We all are!  2020 was a tough time for everyone. I was able to use that time to re-center some things in my world, and I didn’t want those lessons to go to waste. I wanted to create something special. The best way to that was to write honestly, and we did a lot of that on this record.”[3]  Since its release this summer, Davis’ “Buy Dirt” music video has had nearly 4 million views, his song has peaked at #4 on Billboard Hot Country Songs, and it is currently #34 on Billboard Hot 100 and climbing. 

Davis, during an appearance on Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country, said of his song: “’Buy Dirt’ to me is about faith, family and friends, and really finding your happiness.”  The song is the advice of an 80-year-old person who imparts his wisdom on what really matters in life:

Find the one you can’t live without
Get a ring, let your knee hit the ground
Do what you love but call it work
And throw a little money in the plate at church
Send your prayers up and your roots down deep
Add a few limbs to your family tree
And watch their pencil marks
And the grass in the yard all grow up

‘Cause the truth about it is
It all goes by real quick
You can’t buy happiness
But you can buy dirt

Before you get caught on that ladder
Let me tell you what it’s all about
Find you a few things that matter
That you can put a fence around

So, what really matters in life?  What is life really about?  Jordan Davis’ song isn’t bad, but don’t you think that there is more than family and your individual faith?  I think that Davis’ song is a good picture of American Christianity.  When I listened to the song for the first time, what I would say to Davis is, “Yea, but… there is more.”  For me, Psalm 112 fills in the blanks that Davis’ “Buy Dirt” leaves empty. 

The Promise of the Righteous (v. 1)

The Psalm begins with a promise not all that dissimilar to the promises Jesus made in his Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:2-5).  We know these blessings Jesus made as Beatitudes.  A beatitude is a blessing that also serves as promise.  Psalm 112:1 is a beatitude and the verses that follow show how fearing the LORD and delighting in his commandments are a blessing.   

For the Psalmist, a fear of Yahweh and a delighting in his word is what matters in life.  The rest of the Psalm is a description of what the righteous person looks like who fears God and is satisfied in his Word.  Essentially verses 2-9 is everything that the wicked is not (v. 10).  Psalm 112 picks up where the previous Psalm concluded: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10)! 

Fear of the LORD is not some type of phobia or terror.  The fear of the LORD is a deep reverence of him that places all objects of fear and reverence below him.  It is the kind of reverence Jesus requires of all his followers: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26–27).  The fear and delighting in the LORD and his Word in Psalm 112:1 is the same the prophet Isaiah says that God pays attention to:

Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1–2)

One of the wisest fools was a man who was initially understood to be very wise, that man’s name was Solomon, the son of David.  Solomon started out strong after he inherited his father’s kingdom and requested that God would grant him wisdom to lead Israel well.  Over the course of time, Solomon married foreign women as a way to maintain peace between Israel and other nations.  We are told that as he did so, the two things that he traded for comfort and prosperity was his fear of God and a satisfaction in the Word of God.  At the end of his days, Solomon did what so many have done after him… he grieved over the years he wasted chasing after things that did not matter and he expressed his grief in a little book in the Old Testament titled Ecclesiastes.  At the end of his little book he wrote, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14).

So, what does the life of one who fears Yahweh and delights in his word look like?  It looks a bit like the character of God. 

The Rewards of the Righteous (vv. 2-4a)

What do I mean by “rewards of the righteous?”  I do not think that this is referring exclusively to material rewards in this life as it is a reference to the kind of blessing the righteous person is to his own household and those around him.  Psalm 112 is written in light of Psalm 111, and what is it that the Psalmist celebrates in the previous chapter?  The character of God.

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them…. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! (Psalm 111:1–9)

The one who understands God and genuinely appreciates how he has been blessed by God, will be affected in such a way that he or she is drawn to him to the point that fearing him and delighting in his word is not a chore, but the source of genuine joy. 

The kind of righteousness that flows out of a fear of God and delighting in his Word, will affect his home and community in three ways:

  1. His children will be mighty in the land.  How are those in his family affected by his character if it is indeed being shaped by his love for and obedience to God?  The Psalmist says that his, “offspring will be mighty in the land…” (v. 2a).  The use of “might” is not a reference to good health or strength, but a reference to the type of moral standing in the land his children will have.  The point is not that this will be true in every circumstance, sometimes children do not follow the example of their parents even if they did everything right, but the Psalmist is saying that this will be true in most cases if the character of God is something that is seen and experienced through their parents. 
  • His wealth, riches, and righteousness will endure forever.  The reason why I do not think this verse is talking about the riches of this world is because we are told that they will last forever for the righteous person.  James Boice suggests that the point of the Psalmist is this: “If I fear God and obey his commands, I will grow in righteousness, just as God is righteous. And, oh yes, incidentally, I will probably do well in business too.”[4]  In other words, the best way to live in this life is to live a life that reflects the character of God who is holy, righteous, loving, just, full of grace, and is the embodiment of truth; in most cases, if you conduct your business affairs at your job or in your community with righteousness, it will often go well for you. 

If your righteousness results in hardship, it is better to be godly than rich.  The reason why you never see U-Hauls behind hurst.  And for the righteous who are poor in this world, Jesus’ words are comforting:

Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:29–31)

  • Light illuminates the darkness. The righteous person whose character is shaped by God will be a light in the darkness.  I also believe that Psalmist could be saying that the character of God and his Word is the light that lights up the darkness of the righteous person’s life.  This is why the wicked man is “angry, gnashes his teeth, and melts away” (v. 10); the righteous person reminds the wicked of their wickedness.  

The Behavior of the Righteous (vv. 4b-5)

Another characteristic of the righteous person whose character is being shaped by God is that the generosity of God rubs off on him.  How has God been generous to us?  Well, according to Psalm 111:5-7, he…

  1. Provides for his people food to those who fear him.
  2. Gives his people the nations as their inheritance.
  3. He is working all things out for the good of his people. 

Because the righteous man is keenly aware of God’s goodness to him, such a person is freer to be gracious, merciful, generous, and just in the way he treats those around him.  The righteous man is so aware of God’s goodness in his life and understands that all that is good in his life is a gift from God himself that he holds all of his possessions with an open hand. 

The Foundation of the Righteous (vv. 6-8)

The righteous man is a stable man.  What is it that stabilizes him in an unstable world plagued by wars, bad leaders, and the evil intentions of those in power?  The reality is that none of his circumstances are bigger than the God he fears and whose Word he delights in.  How does he know this?  He knows this because he knows who God is; it is because he revers him that he delights in his Word. 

How is it that the righteous man is not moved, afraid of bad news, and steady?  Because he understands that God is all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful (see Psalm 139:1-13).  Because God is all those things, he is a God without limits (Rom. 11:33).

The righteous person understands that there is nothing that can be taken away from God or added to him: “‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’  For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever” (Rom. 11:34-36).  Because God is sufficient and lacks nothing, he does not change, he is not fickle, he does not get frustrated, and he never has a bad day (James 1:17). 

Because God does not change, the righteous person is confident that God is perfectly and fully righteous, loving, and good (Psalm 103:6-10).  Because he understands that God is all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, all-sufficient, all-righteous, all-loving, and completely and perfectly good… he is able to trust in the LORD without fear (vv. 7-8). 

It is the righteous person whose life is used of God to affect the world God has placed him in, and the first place to experience his life is his home.   

The Possessions of the Righteous (v. 9)

The Psalmist returns to the generous spirit of the righteous person who gives out of his understanding that he has received much from God.  What is the righteous person known for?  He is known for giving freely, for giving to the needy, and for his character.  When I think of the righteous person, I am reminded of the apatite of Asaph in Psalm 73, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25–26).

The righteous person fears God and delights in his word because he understands that the only good in himself is the good that God is doing in him.  Ironically, today is not only Halloween, but it is more importantly Reformation Day, the day when a German monk, by the name of Martin Luther, nailed 95 complaints on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.  For hundreds of years people were taught by the Roman Catholic Church that they had to earn their righteousness through their religious devotion; this is all that they knew because there was not a Bible translated in the language of the street that they could read and understand. 

What led to Martin Luther nailing his 95 complaints against the Catholic Church was his reading of Galatians and Romans; he was able to read his Bible because he could read Latin which was the only translation available.  It was Romans 1:16-17 that opened up the gospel to Luther, he read: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16–17).  What Luther discovered in the quietness of his own study through these verses was that the righteousness by which he could only be saved by was not his, but a righteousness that only Christ could provide.  Luther discovered through the reading of Romans that he could bring nothing to God’s table of righteousness, but that it was Christ who brings it all on his behalf!  After Luther saw this, he said, “When I discovered that, I was born again of the Holy Ghost.  And the doors of paradise swung open, and I walked through.”

Conclusion

How does one become the person described in Psalm 112?  You must first understand that there is no righteousness you are able to generate apart from the righteousness of Christ.  The verdict has been and always will be: “None is righteous, no, not one…. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Rom. 3:10, 18).    However, this is not the end of our story, for the apostle Paul continues,

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21–26)

Only when you truly see your sin for what it really is and your absolute inability to do anything other than run to Jesus for the salvation of your soul will you be able to truly fear God and delight in his Word.  When you do that, you will realize that the greatest gift you have to offer is the Christ that is in you, who is changing you, and who is making you whole.  Christ frees you to fear God as you ought so that you can delight in him as you must, as you continue to find your life in him, you will look and smell more like Jesus in your home and in your world.  To some, you will be the aroma of life, and to others, you will be the aroma of death (see 2 Cor. 2:14-17); this is the mark and aroma of the righteous person and the reason wicked are angry when they see it (v. 10).

The righteousness that is yours in Christ and that righteousness lived out is what matters in life.  Everything else is just shifting sand.

Amen. 


[1] Matthew Leimkuehler, “Jordan Davis is ‘making the most’ of releasing new music during COVID-19 pandemic”, The Tennessean; May 21, 2020.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Carena Liptak, “Jordan Davis Embraces His Songwriter Roots on His ‘Buy Dirt’ EP”; The Boot; May 4, 2021.

[4] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 107–150: An Expositional Commentary (p. 916). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Previous
Run