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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 111

Verses 1-3

1. Introductory praise 111:1-3

After a call to praise Yahweh, the unknown psalmist promised that he would praise God publicly. The greatness of God’s works, which those who love them study, drew his praise. He also gloried in God’s ceaseless righteousness.

Verses 1-10

Psalms 111

This is one of the acrostic psalms (cf. Psalms 9, 10; Psalms 25; Psalms 34; Psalms 37; Psalms 112; Psalms 119; Psalms , 145). Each successive line in the Hebrew text begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The writer evidently expressed his thoughts this way so the Israelites could memorize and recite the psalm easily. He recounted the Lord’s great works of redemption that should draw out His people’s praise.

"Acrostic poems in general do not show logical development because of the arbitrary imposition of the alphabetic form." [Note: VanGemeren, p. 700.]

"Psalms 111-113 all begin with Hallelujah, and there is a specially close bond between 111 and 112. These two are . . . a matched pair in their subject-matter, which tells of God in this psalm, and of the man of God in the next, even sharing the same or similar phrases in one or two verses." [Note: Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 396.]

"But Psalms 111, 112 are treated separately because they have a slightly different accent, an unqualified statement that the world is ruled by God with moral symmetry. That symmetry in the world is reflected in the disciplined acrostic structure of these two psalms. The world works so that persons receive the consequences of their actions (Galatians 6:7); this statement entertains no doubt about it." [Note: Brueggemann, p. 45.]

This author called these psalms "songs of retribution." [Note: Ibid.]

Verses 4-9

2. Praise for specific works 111:4-9

Psalms 111:4 states the theme of this section. God graciously helped His people, and consequently they remember to praise Him. Psalms 111:5-6 cite examples of God’s goodness. In Psalms 111:7-9, the writer praised God further for His redemption and His faithfulness.

Verse 10

3. Concluding wisdom 111:10

The writer may have quoted Job 28:28, Proverbs 1:7 or Psalms 9:10, or Ecclesiastes 12:13.

"This famous saying is virtually the motto of the Wisdom writers, where its truth appears in various forms . . ." [Note: Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 398.]

In view of God’s great acts and faithfulness, fearing Him is the better part of wisdom. Obedience expresses reverential trust. Continuing worship is also appropriate. Some interpreters take the last clause as a prayer rather than a statement. [Note: E.g., Dahood, 3:125.]

God’s people should commit to memory the great characteristics and works of their God so they will remember to trust and obey Him.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 111". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-111.html. 2012.