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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 111

Verse 1

Introduction

The revelation of Christ in His sufferings (Psalm 109) and in His glorification (Psalm 110) works among the remnant three songs of praise (Psalms 111-113). Psalms 111-112 are written in the form of an acrostic, that is, each of its twenty-two lines begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet, from aleph to taw. This succession of letters refers to the ways and government of God.

The third song of praise (Psalm 113) is also the first of a series of songs of praise called hallel-psalms. They are sung by the Jews on the evening of the Passover, at the beginning (Psalms 113-114) and following (Psalms 115-118) the Passover meal. The Lord Jesus also sang this song of praise with His disciples on the last night of His life on earth before the cross, after He had instituted the Supper and before He departed with them to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26).

The first time we encounter the word “hallelujah” in the New Testament is only in Revelation 19. That is when the Lord Jesus has judged Babylon the great and accepts and begins to exercise His public kingship (Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:3Revelation 19:4; Revelation 19:6). It is the same here. After the enemies are defeated in Psalm 110, we find the songs of praise and the hallel-psalms.

Psalm 111 is a song of praise for the great deeds of the LORD (Psalms 111:2-Leviticus :): the redemption and the covenant. The redemption here is the redemption from Egypt as a type of the redemption from the power of the enemy. The covenant here is the covenant of Sinai as a type of the new, eternal covenant. Psalm 112 is then a song of praise of the glory and features of Christ that are visible in the remnant. They are the features of the righteous described in Psalm 1 (Psalms 1:1-Leviticus :).

Give Thanks to the LORD

The psalm connects to the previous one and therefore begins with “hallelujah”, that is “praise the LORD”. It is a response to Who the LORD is and to His deeds, as presented in the previous psalm. The psalmist says he will give thanks to the LORD with all his heart, so much is he impressed with Him Who is at God’s right hand. His whole heart is taken up with it, leaving no room for anything else (Psalms 86:12). Thanks is given without reserve, without holding anything back.

He also includes others in his thanksgiving. He gives thanks to the LORD “in the company of the upright and in the assembly”. “The upright” are all those who do what is right in the sight of the LORD (Exodus 15:26; Psalms 33:1). The Messiah is the center of the “assembly”. They have Him as their common object of their thanksgiving. Their love for the Messiah binds them together (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:9). Only to them does God make His thoughts known in His secret dealings with them (Psalms 25:14). Only by them are God’s thoughts received and appreciated.

Verses 2-6

The Works of the LORD

By “the works of the LORD” (Psalms 111:2) is meant all that He has done. It refers to the redemption of His people. All those works are “great”, that is, numerous, marvelous, and awe-inspiring. They entice one to study them. Not that they can be fully fathomed or counted (Job 5:9). This study is done “by all who delight in them”. To be occupied with God’s works gives joy, because God made His works with joy and delights in them.

Those who study God’s “work” see that they are “splendid and majestic” (Psalms 111:3). The word “work” indicates action, the performance of an act for a purpose. All of God’s actions are characterized by majesty or greatness, exaltation and glory, splendor. His work reflect this (cf. Romans 1:19-Proverbs :). Someone who does not see this is willfully blind.

His work originates in His righteousness. His work is characterized by righteousness, that is, it is always in accordance with the covenant He made with the people. Never does He do anything that is contrary to His righteousness. His righteousness is manifest in His redemption of His people. On the basis of Christ’s suffering (Psalm 109), God raised Him up and can save the believing remnant in righteousness. Because His righteousness endures forever, His work also endure forever. Therefore, the realm of peace, a kingdom based on righteousness, endures forever.

Many of His acts are “wonders” (Psalms 111:4). Wonders are acts of which the origin is supernatural. He has made them “to be remembered”. Here we can think of the feasts of the LORD, by which the memory of wonders is kept alive. For example, the deliverance of His people from Egypt is a wonder. For this He gave the institution of the Passover as “a memorial” (Exodus 12:14). For us, who are saved by the wonder of the cross, the Lord Jesus instituted His Supper as a meal of remembrance (Luke 22:19).

Wonders, in addition to the power of God, show in a special way that God is “gracious and compassionate”. In celebrating the Passover, God’s people remember that in His grace and compassion He saved them from slavery in Egypt. When we remember the Lord Jesus in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we remember that in His grace and compassion He gave Himself for us in the death.

A special proof of His grace and compassion was seen by God’s earthly people in the “food” that “He has given … to those who fear Him” (Psalms 111:5). We can think of the manna He gave to His people for forty years as they wandered in the wilderness. He gave it to them by virtue of His covenant, which He remembers “forever”. Therefore, He will never give up or forsake His people. He remains faithful to the promises He has made to them.

Another clear evidence of “the power of His works” that He has “made known to His people” is that He has given them “the heritage of the nations” (Psalms 111:6). In order to give His people the land promised to them, He drove the nations out of the land before them. The land was given by Him to them as a heritage. This is not only a proof of His power but also a proof of grace and compassion, for they did not deserve it.

Verses 7-9

Reliability of the Works

In all “the works of His hands” there is nothing twisted or devious, but they “are truth and justice” (Psalms 111:7; Proverbs 8:8). His works are accomplished by His speaking. What He commands, happens (Psalms 33:6; Psalms 33:9). His words are truth and therefore “all His precepts are sure”. Given the parallel between the first and second line of the verse, we can also think of “the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18) which as such can be seen as “works of His hands”.

He not only brings works into being, but “they are” also “upheld” by Him “forever and ever” (Psalms 111:8). He upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3), which is to say that He bears all things and brings them to the purpose determined by Him. This happens precisely because “they are performed in truth and uprightness”. His works are in accordance with Who He Himself is.

Works performed in truth are works done from the right view on things, with each work given its proper place in relation to every other work. They have been done in a way that truth is maintained and passed on. The uprightness in which the works are done means that they are the best works; there are no better ones; they are also not in need of improvement. God can say of each of His works that it is very good (Genesis 1:31).

One work in particular that He upholds “forever and ever” is the “redemption”, or ransom (Isaiah 50:1-Exodus :), which He has “sent … to His people” (Psalms 111:9). That redemption He has sent by virtue of “His covenant” which He has “ordained … forever”. The people owe their redemption to Him alone because He has kept His covenant. It proves the complete trustworthiness of God.

“His covenant” points to the eternal covenant, which is based on the blood shed by the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 13:20). Since the covenant at Sinai is not eternal (Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 8:6-1 Samuel :), this is prophetically about the new covenant. The key to the new covenant is the Mediator and the blood He shed. Both are revealed only in the New Testament (or: New Covenant). In Hebrew, brit chadasha, meaning “new covenant”, is the name for the New Testament.

This dealing in faithfulness to His covenant impresses upon the psalmist that God’s Name is “holy and awesome”. This is the essence of the covenant and the redemption that flows from it. He said at the beginning that the works of the LORD are great. He has mentioned a number of works. From those works His Name has become manifest, for every work bears His Name. Those who look closely at His works cannot help but bow before that Name in holy reverence and awe.

Verse 10

The Fear of the LORD

The knowledge of Divine things cannot be obtained without the fear of the LORD (Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10Proverbs 15:33). Only those who have reverence and awe for the LORD gain wisdom to make the right, God-pleasing choices in life. Whether a person is wise is shown by his actions. All who take God into account in their actions have “a good understanding” of the things of this life (Proverbs 3:4; Proverbs 13:15; 2 Chronicles 30:22). Without the awareness of His presence, the knowledge of Divine things is not possible. For those who are aware of His presence, everything is different (Romans 8:28).

He who is wise and has good understanding stands on a foundation that always gives reason to praise. This foundation is unshakable, it “endures forever”, because this foundation is “the fear of the LORD”. The awe and reverence for Him never cease, but continue forever. With this valuable praise we may already begin on earth.

Then we sing: I have believed and therefore I sing. It is impossible to be silent in the presence of Him. The heart begins to burn (Luke 24:32) and the songs of praise come naturally. After all, He is enthroned upon the praises of Israel (Psalms 22:3). Singing is a foretaste of eternity. You experience that you are a new creation and, like Enoch, you walk with God. The transition to heaven is then very small.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 111". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-111.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.