A frequent word to describe God’s people in the Old Testament and particularly the Psalms is the word chasid (25/34x). It is often translated “godly one(s)” in the NASB (ESV translates it “saints”). While the word is applied to the Messiah (Psalm 16:10), it frequently denotes the people of God. The word does describe something about their character and conduct, which the Lord rewards (Psalm 18:26). For those who are “kind” (same word), God shows Himself “kind” to them. It carries the idea of devotion and piety. A godly one is one who gives himself/herself to the service of God and is concerned with holiness and righteousness. When someone lives this way, God promises to reward them (Psalm 18:26). Not only does He see such a life and approve of it, but He recompenses such a person in life and eternity. Consider the following promises about the Lord’s care for His godly ones:
The Lord keeps the feet of His godly ones (1 Samuel 2:9). Hannah’s prayer is marked by a statement about the Lord’s sovereignty, which results in sovereign protection and care for his people and judgment for the wicked. Hannah was confident that the Lord guarded her in her ways and that the Lord did so for all of His people.
The Lord sets apart the godly man for himself (Psalm 4:4). David’s confidence in trouble was that the Lord was watching out for him, protecting him from His enemies. His confidence was that the Lord had His special focus on him and would take care of him.
The Lord does not forsake His godly ones (Psalm 37:28). While sometimes the circumstances of God’s people seem bleak and it seems that wickedness prevails, those who belong to God will never be forsaken. Illustrations of God keeping this promise are abundant in Scripture–Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, Ruth and Naomi, David, Job, Daniel, Paul, to name a few.
The Lord will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones (Psalm 85:9). God’s promise following His forgiveness to a repentant people is a message of shalom–peace, for those who have trusted in Him. Gideon saw the Lord and thought he was going to die, but the Lord said to him, “Shalom to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” That peace for believers is through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1), and it is because of the cross of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:20).
He preserves the souls of His godly ones (Psalm 97:10). The three Hebrew children were preserved through the fiery furnace heated 7 times hotter than normal (Daniel 3). Daniel was preserved from the lions in Babylon, his vicious enemies who had attacked him and sought to destroy him, as well as the creatures in the den (Daniel 6). Peter was preserved also when the Lord had delivered him from the prison (Acts 12).
He considers the death of His godly ones to be precious (Psalm 116:15). Psalm 116:15 could sound strange: “Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones.” (Ps. 116:15, NASB). How could someone’s death be “precious”? The word “precious” (yaqar) is also translated “costly” or “esteemed” in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 18:30; 2 Samuel 12:30). The same word is used to describe the stone in a crown of one of the kings David conquered. It was a “costly” stone, a “precious” stone. It was worth something and highly valued. The death of a “godly one” is not meaningless or worthless, but truly valued in the Lord’s sight. An illustration can be found in the response of the southern kingdom of Judah to the deaths of two of their kings–Jehoram and Josiah. The first king was Jehoram, whose wickedness resulted in God’s judgment. The people of Judah so lightly esteemed him that they did not make a fire for him like the kings before him (2 Chronicles 16:14), and the chronicler says that he departed with “no one’s regret” (2 Chronicles 21:20, NASB). Later in Judah’s history, King Josiah died after being wounded in battle. The chronicler said of Josiah that when he died, “all Jerusalem and Judah mourned for him” (2 Chronicles 35:24, NASB). He also writes that Jeremiah chanted a special lament for him (v.25). Even after the people of Israel were taken into exile, male and female singers continued songs of lament for Josiah and the lamentations became an ordinance for Israel (v.25). One king died without esteem and was quickly forgotten, while the other’s name and memory was memorialized in the songs of the nation. What about the Lord’s people? What is interesting is that Psalm 116:15 does not speak about the view of people towards the death of the “godly ones,” but the view of the Lord Himself. When it comes to the death of the godly ones of the Lord, He highly esteems and values their death. Their passing into eternity is not meaningless but very meaningful to the Lord. He lovingly observes (indeed, decrees) their death with divine interest and emotion (I speak as a fool). I cannot think of a better statement to illustrate this truth about the Lord than the one written about Jesus at the grave of Lazarus: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35, NASB). The Jews were right to say, “See how He loved him!”