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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Psalms 111

Psalms 111:0


The excellency of this Psalm appears, as from other things, so from the psalmist’s care to digest the several parcels of it into an exact order, according to the order of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, that it might be better fixed in the memories of those who read it. It is a short, yet full, commemoration of God’s works.

The psalmist by his own example exhorteth all men to praise God, Psalms 111:1; rehearseth his glorious and wonderful works, Psalms 111:2-4; his keeping covenant with them that fear him, Psalms 111:5-9; whose fear is the beginning of wisdom, Psalms 111:10.

Verse 1

Of the upright; of the sincere worshippers of God, of the Israel of God, as this very word is explained, Numbers 23:10; where they who are called Israel in one clause, are called righteous or upright in the next. And this title he gives to the assembly or congregation of Israelites, partly, because many of them were such, and he was obliged in charity to judge all of them to be so, of whom he had no evidence to the contrary; partly, because upright persons do most exercise and delight themselves in this duty of praising God; and hypocrites, though sometimes they give themselves to prayer, yet are very apt to neglect the duty of thanksgiving; partly, because this duty of praise is most comely for the upright, Psalms 33:1; and partly, because David’s heart was most united to the sincere Israelites, and his desire was, as far as he could, to associate himself with such in the worship and service of God.

Verse 2

The works of the Lord; either,

1. The works of creation; or rather,

2. The works of his providence in the world, and especially in and for his church and people, of which he speaks in the rest of the Psalm.

Are great, for the infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness manifested in them. Sought out; highly valued and regarded, as this very word and phrase is used, Deuteronomy 11:12; Isaiah 62:12; or frequently called to mind, and diligently meditated upon, when others either never regarded them, or instantly forget them: or, found out, as this word is taken, Isaiah 65:1; the antecedent being put for the consequent, which is frequent in Scripture, as Romans 12:2, where proving or trying (for so the Greek word there signifies) is put for approving, which follows after it. And found out, i.e. truly and thoroughly understood, both as to the nature of them, and God’s counsels and ends in them; whereas the works of God are ofttimes not apprehended or minded, or are mistaken and misconstrued, by ungodly men.

Of all them that have pleasure therein; of all them who take delight in observing and considering the works of God.

Verse 3

His work; either all his works, of which See Poole "Psalms 111:2"; or that eminent branch of those works, his providence towards his people, as it is expressed afterwards

Honourable and glorious; becoming the Divine Majesty, and bringing glory to him from all that observe and consider it.

His righteousness; his justice or faithfulness in performing his word.

Endureth for ever; hath always been, and will still be, evident to his people in all generations, and in all conditions, even when he afflicts them, and seems to deal most severely, and to break his promise with them.

Verse 4

To be remembered; either,

1. By those memorials which he hath left of them in his word; or rather,

2. By their own wonderful nature, and the lasting effects and benefits flowing from them, which are such as cannot easily be forgotten.

Is gracious and full of compassion towards his people, as appears from his works and carriage towards us, in sparing, and pardoning, and restoring, and preserving us when we have deserved to be utterly destroyed.

Verse 5

Meat; which includes all necessary provisions for their being and well-being. The word signifies spoil, and so may relate to the spoil of the Egyptians granted by God to the Israelites; but it is sometimes used for food, as Proverbs 31:15; Malachi 3:10.

Unto them that fear him; to the Israelites, the only people in the world which feared and worshipped the true God according to his will; and especially to those among them that truly feared God, and, for their sakes, to the body of that nation, as well in the wilderness, as in their following straits and miseries.

He will ever be mindful; or, he hath ever been; for both in the first branch of this verse, and in the foregoing and following verses, he is speaking of the former works of God. So the future tense is put for the past, as it is frequently, and as on the contrary the past tense is put for the future.

Of his covenant, which he made with Abraham and with his seed forever; whereby he obliged himself to be their God, and to provide all necessaries for them.

Verse 6

He hath showed, not only by words, but by his actions.

The power of his works; his mighty power in his works, and especially in that which here follows.

The heritage of the heathen; the land of Canaan, which had been possessed and inherited by the heathens.

Verse 7

The works of his hands; all that he doth, either on the behalf of his people, or against his or their enemies; of both which sorts of works he spoke in the foregoing verse.

Are verity and judgment; are exactly agreeable to his word or promises, and to the rules of justice. All his commandments; either,

1. His laws given to the Israelites, especially the moral law considered with its sanction, the promises made to the observers of it, and the threatenings denounced against transgressors. Or,

2. His works, as it is in the first clause, called his commands, because they were done by virtue of his decree, and by his power and authority; as in like manner God is said to command those blessings which he purposeth to give, and doth effectually procure, as Deuteronomy 28:8 Psalms 42:8; Psalms 68:28; Psalms 133:3, and to command those creatures which he moveth and acteth as he pleaseth, as 1 Kings 17:4; Matthew 8:27.

Are sure, or faithful, or certain; constant and unchangeable, as his laws are, being grounded upon the immutable rules of justice or equity; infallible and irresistible, as his counsels and ways are.

Verse 8

They stand fast, Heb. they are established upon the sure foundations of truth and uprightness, as it follows.

Are done; constituted or ordered.

Verse 9

Redemption; that deliverance out of Egypt, which was a type and pledge of that greater and higher redemption by Christ.

Commanded, i.e. appointed or established firmly by his power and authority. And so this word is oft used, as Psalms 33:9; Psalms 42:8; Psalms 105:31,Psalms 105:34. See Poole "Psalms 111:7", the ground of which signification may be taken from hence, that the command of a sufficient authority concerning any thing doth commonly establish and effect it. For ever; through all successive generations of his people to the end of the world; for the covenant is the same for substance in all, and differed only in circumstances.

Holy and reverend; terrible to his enemies, and venerable in his people’s eyes, and holy in all his dealings with all men.

Verse 10

The fear of the Lord; piety or true religion, which consists in the fear or worship and service of God.

Is the beginning of wisdom; is the only foundation of and introduction to all true wisdom. Or, is the chief part of wisdom; those things which are most excellent in their kinds being off said to be first, to wit; in dignity, as Numbers 24:20; Deuteronomy 18:4, &c., and in other authors. And the first command, Mark 12:28, is called the greatest command, Matthew 22:36.

That do his commandments, Heb. that do them, to wit, God’s commands, or the things which the fear of God requireth.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 111". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.