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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 111

Verse 1

Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.

This psalm is the first of the trilogy, Psalms 111:1-10; Psalms 112:1-10; Psalms 113:1-9. All three strengthen God's people in trouble by praising Him. Psalms 111:1-10 praises Him for past deliverances, a pledge of future ones. Psalms 112:1-10, as the God of righteousness who maketh light to arise to the upright, in darkness. Psalms 113:1-9, as the Raiser of the poor out of the dust to set him with princes. The Hallelujah at the beginning and end of Psalms 113:1-9 marks it as third of the trilogy: Psalms 111:1-10; Psalms 112:1-10 have it only at the beginning. So in the trilogy, Psalms 104:1-35; Psalms 105:1-45; Psalms 106:1-48. Psalms 111:6 is the turning point of the Psalm, hinting at the sad inversion of the relations between Israel and the pagan; God's people, to whom by a mighty interposition He had given the "heritage" of Canaan, now in it serving the pagan. The Hallelujah marks the time of the captivity: then first (Psalms 104:35) that phrase occurs. To the joy at the Jews' restoration from Babylon (celebrated in Psalms 107:1-43) succeeded dejection at their low state compared with their prosperity before the captivity. They did not see that the foretold glory of Israel was to be restored only under Messiah. This psalm calls to praise God for His works of redeeming love, as the remedy against despondency (Psalms 111:1-4); His supplying meat in the wilderness (Psalms 111:5) suggests faith that He will supply His people, now comparatively, destitute on their return. His giving the heritage of the pagan (Psalms 111:6) assures Israel that God's verity, which stands fast forever (Psalms 111:7-8), engages Him yet to subject the now dominant world-power to the kingdom of God. As He sent redemption out of Egypt, and lately out of Babylon, so His covenant is forever, and His name Holy (Psalms 111:9); so that our wisdom is to fear, obey, and praise Him forever (Psalms 111:10).

Praise ye the Lord - Hallelujah, the key-note of the psalm, a stirring up of the Lord's people to praise Him. The title; because the following word in the Hebrew begins with the letter 'aleph ('), the first letter of the alphabet, which shows that it is the first word of the verse, the arrangement of the whole psalm being alphabetical.

I will praise the Lord with my whole heart - (Psalms 86:12.) In Psalms 109:30 it is, "I will praise the Lord with my mouth." Both must go together to constitute perfect praise.

In the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation - literally, in the secret or confidential assembly [ cowd (H5475)], the communion, of the pious, as distinguished from the general 'congregation [ `eedaah (H5712)] of the peoples' (Psalms 7:7: cf. note, Psalms 25:14).

Verse 2

The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

The works of the Lord are great - (Deuteronomy 4:34; Revelation 15:3.)

Sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. So the Syriac, Chaldaic, and Jerome. [ chepªtseeyhem (H2656), from the verbal adjective chaapeets (H2655). This is rare: for the adjective in the construct state ought to retain its tsere' (ee): as in Psalms 35:27; Psalms 40:14, chªpeetseey]. "Sought out" implies that the godly make them the object of diligent seeking and finding by prayer, and of profit and comfort by meditation (Psalms 143:5; Psalms 119:45; Psalms 119:94; Psalms 119:155; Psalms 1:2). The godly find "the secret of the Lord" by seeking, and have pleasure in it when found. But Gejer, from Bucer, translates, 'sought out according to all their (the saints': Psalms 111:1) desires' [the regular form from the noun cheepets (H2656)]: such as to satisfy all the desires of the saints (cf. 1 Kings 9:11). So Hengstenberg.

Verse 3

His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever.

His work is honourable and glorious - literally, 'is honour and majesty,' as in Psalms 104:1.

Verse 4

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered - i:e., such as to be worthy of remembrance.

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion - (Exodus 34:6.)

Verse 5

He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.

He hath given meat unto them that fear him. "Meat" [ Terep (H7503)] - literally, booty or spoil: the spoil (Exodus 12:36) brought by Israel out of Egypt, as God had engaged by "covenant" to Abraham, Genesis 15:14, "They shall come out with great substance" (Kimchi). Rather the manna and quails, which to the hungry people were like a booty thrown in their way. The word is used for "meat" in general, in Proverbs 31:15; Malachi 3:10.

He will ever be mindful of his covenant - the inference which faith ought ever to draw for the future from His past supplying of meat to His people.

Verse 6

He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.

He hath showed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen - rather, 'by (literally, FOR lª-) giving them,' etc.; namely, Canaan.

Verse 7

The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.

The works of his hands are verity and judgment - (Psalms 111:2; Revelation 15:3).

All his commandments are sure - (cf. note, Psalms 19:8.) "Statutes" - the same Hebrew as here: piquwdaayw (H6490). Literally, 'all His charges.' These, with their accompanying promises, may be surely relied on, seeing that His "works are" seen to be all "verity and justice."

Verse 8

They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.

They stand fast (literally, are firmly supported) forever and ever - referring to "His commandments" or charges (Psalms 111:7).

(And are) done in truth and uprightness - referring to His "works" (Psalms 111:7).

Verse 9

He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.

He sent redemption unto his people - out of Egypt: the type of the redemption or ransoming with the price (so the Hebrew [ pªduwt (H6304)]) of Christ's blood (Luke 1:68; Ephesians 1:7), and of the final redemption of Israel, literal and spiritual (Isaiah 35:10; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Romans 8:23).

He hath commanded his covenant forever - `He hath appointed' or 'ordained His covenant forever' (Ps He hath commanded his covenant forever - `He hath appointed' or 'ordained His covenant forever' (Psalms 111:5, end: cf. Psalms 42:8; Psalms 133:3; Deuteronomy 28:8).

Verse 10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

-Conclusion from what has gone before: seeing that the works of the Lord for His people are glorious and wonderful (Psalms 111:3-4), and seeing that "He giveth meat unto them that fear him," and seeing that "His commandments are all sure," and "His covenant" with His people is forever. so that obedience is certain to bring the promised blessing (Psalms 111:5), it follows that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom - (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Job 28:28; Deuteronomy 4:6.) The short-sighted wisdom of this world regards the fear of God as a secondary consideration, and selfish gains and honours as the primary object of life. But far-seeing faith looks beyond the present to the end. The "fear of the Lord" is child-like reverential fear of Him whose "name is holy and reverend" (Psalms 111:9: cf. Deuteronomy 28:58). This "fear" calls forth love and "delight in His commandments" (Psalms 112:1).

A good understanding have all they that do (his commandments) - (Proverbs 3:4; Proverbs 13:14-15.) "The fear of the Lord," in the first clause, is explained by 'doing (His commandments)' (Psalms 111:7) in the second. That fear which is only emotional, and not operative, nor manifested in active obedience, is not true "fear of the Lord."

His praise endureth forever. The praise of the Lord: corresponding to "Praise ye the Lord" at the beginning. His ever-enduring glory, which merits His people's praise, shows that His "fear is the beginning of wisdom;" whereas the world's wisdom soon comes to nought (1 Corinthians 1:19-20; 1 Corinthians 2:6).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 111". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.