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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Psalms 112

Psalms 112

This Psalm is a praise of God as the true recompenser. In the preceding Psalm, courage had been imparted to those who failed to observe this recompense, by pointing to the glorious deeds of God in times past; and here the recompense to be expected is described at length. There the basis is assigned to the “ that” of the recompense, and here to the “ how.” God will not be wanting to himself;—this is the fundamental thought;—let a man sow faithfully, though it be in tears, in due season he shall reap in joy.

This Psalm is immediately connected with the last verse of the preceding one, and may be considered as a commentary on it. In Psalms 112:3-4, Psalms 112:8, it stands in verbal reference to it, with a designed variation in the sense. The formal arrangement in both Psalms is completely the same,—proof enough that we have before us a pair of Psalms. A third Psalm, Psalms 113, is added, to make up the collection.

Verses 1-10

Ver. 1. Hallelujah.

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, has great pleasure in his commandments. Ver. 2. His seed shall be a hero on the earth, the generation of the righteous shall be blessed. Ver. 3. Fulness and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endureth for ever. Ver. 4. There ariseth in darkness light to the upright, who is gracious and compassionate and just. Ver. 5. Blessed is the man who is compassionate and lendeth, he careth for his affairs with justice. Ver. 6. For through eternity he shall not be moved, for eternal remembrance he shall be just. Ver. 7. Before evil intelligence he is not afraid, his heart is comforted trusting in the Lord. Ver. 8. Firm is his heart, he is not afraid until he see his pleasure on his enemies. Ver. 9. He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor, his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn is high in honour. Ver. 10. The wicked shall see it, and be angry, gnashes the teeth and melts away: the desire of the wicked goes to the ground.

The second clause of Psalms 112:1 describes more exactly the fear of God, which may assure itself of salvation, with reference to those who have “Lord, Lord,” in their lips, and in deeds deny him,—a reference which pervades the whole Psalm. The pleasure in the commandments of God, from which alone true obedience can come—for mental inclination of one kind can only be overborne by mental inclination of another, and the love for what is impure, can only, be successfully counteracted by the pure love of the Lord and of his commandments—exists only in those who are in a state of grace; comp. at Psalms 19:7, Psalms 19:10. The “hero on the earth” (comp. at Psalms 52:1, the sense “powerful” is arbitrarily assumed), Psalms 112:2, is from Genesis 10:8; and even the reference to this passage shows that the בארץ is not to be translated in the land. His seed, the posterity of the man of Judah, Isaiah 5:3. It becomes manifest here that the Psalm has a national reference, in accordance with the preceding Davidic trilogy, and the remaining Psalms of the cycle. The promise of being a hero suits well the whole people, to whom power and blessing for overcoming the world, is promised in case of their being faithful to the covenant (comp. Deuteronomy 33:29), but not individuals, very few of whom were ever called to be heros; with the individual reference also the limitation of heroism to the posterity is strange; the “generation of the righteous” is parallel to “his seed,” which, according to Psalms 111:1, is to be considered as a term) denoting Israel.

His righteousness, Psalms 112:3,—bestowed upon him by God, whose righteousness remains for ever, on the ground of his eternally abiding subjective righteousness, Psalms 112:9 here, the foundation of salvation, or salvation itself considered as a matter-of-fact justification; comp. Isaiah 54:17, Isaiah 45:24, and at Psalms 24:5. It is thus manifest that the threefold repetition of this word in both Psalms is anything rather than “a proof of the small inventive power of the author,” an objection which rebounds upon the head of the expositor who made it. Berleb.: “ Endureth for ever,” just as he pays attention to righteousness, not for a few hours or days, but for his whole lifetime,” Ezekiel 18:24, Ezekiel 18:26, Luke 1:75

In Psalms 112:4, the second clause standing in opposition to ישרים , serves to define them more exactly; this was all the more necessary as “the righteous,” on the ground of Numbers 23:10, had become to a certain extent a proper name of Israel, as is manifest from Psalms 111:1. Many expositors refer the predicates to the Lord, either: “ from the gracious,” or “he is gracious,” &c., appealing to the fact that those predicates always in other passages, and even in Psalms 111:1, are applied to the Lord. But this is not altogether decisive. According to the actual relation of the Psalm before us to Psalms 111, we have to expect here not a repetition put a sacred parody, and it is just because of the common use of these predicates, as applied to the Lord, that they are transferred in the passage before us to the righteous among men, who ought to be compassionate, &c., just as, and because he, their heavenly Father, is compassionate; comp. Matthew 5:45, Matthew 5:48. Arnd.: “because a God-fearing heart knows well that all good from above flows from the compassion of God, so meditating upon the compassion of God makes it also compassionate. For that is the true fear of God, which endeavours always more and more to imitate God, and to become like him in his divine perfections.” Against the reference to the Lord we have to urge, that the righteous require to be more particularly described, that Psalms 112:5 is manifestly an expansion of Psalms 112:4, particularly that the חונן there refers manifestly to חונן in Psalms 112:4, and finally that in the parallel passage, Isaiah 58:7, the rising of the light is in like manner connected with the works of compassion:” “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house, when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? then shall thy light break forth as the morning, &c., and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon-day.” Psalms 97:11 also depends upon this passage of Isaiah.

In Psalms 112:5, the טוב , good = prosperous, Isaiah 3:10, Jeremiah 44:17, corresponds to the אשרי in Psalms 112:1. [Note: Ven.: “What a little ago he hath expressed metaphorically, he now expresses literally, when he pronounces the man to be happy.”] Several translate ungrammatically: “May it go well with the man, he gives and lends.” In this case the article could not be wanting. The being compassionate and lending does not come into notice as a blessing, in so far as the righteous are provided with the means of being so (in this case Psalms 37:21, Psalms 37:26, would have to be compared, passages from which the expression is most certainly taken), but as a virtue, comp. Proverbs 14:21, “he who is compassionate towards the poor, salvation to him!” Proverbs 14:31. The כלכל stands in its usual sense, to nourish, to care for, comp. at Psalms 55:22. The justice here, opposition to the manifestations of love with which it goes hand in hand, is that by which a man improves his circumstances, keeps them in good condition. The כלכל has moreover the senses of to hold, and to endure, which are not suitable here; but it has not the sense of disponere (Vulg. Luther), or moderari, nor that of to maintain or to prop up. The exposition “he cares for (even by this) his concerns in the judgment,” is inconsistent with the want of the article; also the במשפט corresponds to the צדיק , as the “is compassionate and lends,” corresponds to “gracious and merciful.”

Psalms 112:6 lays down the basis on which rests the declaration of the happiness of the compassionate and righteous man, inasmuch as it describes his salvation. The לזכר עולם corresponds to the לעולם , the צדיק to the לא ימוט . Hence “he shall be just” refers to what befalls him, to the treatment of him, as a just man. For eternal remembrance is equivalent to for all future time, so long as men can remember anything.

Before evil intelligence, Psalms 112:7,—however well-founded it may be. He is not afraid, he need not be afraid because he has in God the sure ground of his salvation. On נכון firm = fearless, comp. at Psalms 51:10. [Note: Arnd “Look now at the examples,—how Moses says at the Red Sea, stand still and see, &c. How does Jehosaph stand firm as a wall when a hundred thousand men invade the land, and he slays them all with one song of praise! How firmly does David stand when hunted by Saul! How overwhelmed is Saul with despair when his land is invaded by the Philistines, and he seeks advice from a witch! What firmness is in Daniel when in the lion’s den! What joy in Stephen! How did the holy Basilius say when Caesar Valens threatened him so dreadfully: such Mormolykia should be set before children! Athanasius, when Julian persecuted him: he is a mist that will soon disappear.”]

The סמוך , properly propped, in ver. 8, refers back to Psalms 111:8, firm in his heart, in reliance upon the firmness of the commandments of God, and of the promises connected with them for their faithful observers. On the second clause comp. Psalms 54:7. Confidence in hope ceases when sight enters. The עד is to be taken in an exclusive sense.

On the פזר in Psalms 112:9 comp. Proverbs 11:24. It denotes the plentifulness of the giving. On account of the preterite, and because the expression, his righteousness endureth for ever, cannot occur a second time in the same sense (comp. Psalms 112:3), the two first clauses refer to the conduct, and the third to the recompense. The righteousness is that which gives to every one his own, to the poor charity. On “his horn shall be exalted,” comp. Psalms 75:4, Psalms 92:10. In honour, in spite of all the attempts of the enemies to cover him with shame.

In Psalms 112:10, in consequence of the circumstances of the times, we are to think of heathen wickedness, or the wicked represents heathenism in hostility to the kingdom of God, the world, compare Psalms 107:42, He gnashes with his teeth, Psalms 35:16, Psalms 37:12, in impotent rage. And melts away, Psalms 68:2. In the last clause the desire of the wicked means the object of that desire; comp. Job 8:13, Proverbs 10:28.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 112". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/psalms-112.html.