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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 111

A.M. 2962. B.C. 1042.

This Psalm, which Bishop Patrick supposes to be a kind of epitome of the 105th and 106th Psalms, is composed alphabetically, each sentence beginning with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. It and several of the following Psalms seem to have been written for the service of the church in their solemn feasts. The psalmist here praises God for his works, Psalms 111:1-9 . Recommends the fear of God, Psalms 111:10 .

Verses 1-2

Psalms 111:1-2. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart I will make my acknowledgments to him, and give him thanks for the displays which he hath made of his wisdom, power, and goodness in his wonderful works, and that not only with my lips, and with some slight affections of my mind, but with all my heart and soul: in the assembly, &c. Hebrew, בסוד , besod, in the secret, or private society, as Bishop Patrick interprets it, of the upright Or righteous; “of those good men with whom I am more particularly acquainted,” and in the congregation The public congregation of the people of Israel. The works of the Lord are great Very magnificent. They are like himself; there is nothing in them that is mean or trifling. They are the products of infinite wisdom and power, which we must acknowledge upon the first view of them, before we come to inquire into them more particularly. They astonish and strike us with awe the moment we behold them. Every one of them, whether in the natural or spiritual system, is marvellous. “Nothing cometh from the hands of the Divine Artist but what is excellent and perfect in its kind, adapted with infinite skill to its proper place, and fitted for its intended use.” Sought out of all them that take pleasure therein Of all who take delight in observing and considering them: such highly value and regard these works: they frequently call them to mind, meditate upon, and give themselves up to the contemplation of them. And happy are they who do this with humility and diligence, with faith and devotion. “To them shall the gate of true science open; they shall understand the mysteries of creation, providence, and redemption; and they who thus seek shall find the treasures of eternal wisdom.” Horne.

Verses 3-4

Psalms 111:3-4 . His work Either all his works, or that eminent branch of them, his providence toward his people, as is expressed afterward; is honourable and glorious Becoming the Divine Majesty, and bringing glory to him from all that observe and consider it. And 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. He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered Either, 1st, By those memorials which he hath left of them in his word; or, rather, 2d, By their own wonderful nature, and their lasting effects, and the benefits flowing from them, which are such as cannot easily be forgotten. The Lord is full of compassion Toward his people, as appears from his works and conduct toward us, in sparing, pardoning, restoring, and preserving us, when we deserved to be utterly destroyed.

Verses 5-6

Psalms 111:5-6. He hath given meat All necessary provisions for their being and well-being; unto them that fear him To the Israelites, the only people in the world that feared and worshipped the true God according to his will, and especially to those among them that truly feared him, 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 Or, he hath ever been, mindful of his covenant Which he made with Abraham, and with his seed for ever; whereby he engaged to be their God, and to provide all necessaries for them. He hath showed Not only by his words, but by his actions; the power of his works His mighty power in his works, and especially, as it here follows, in giving them the heritage of the heathen, the land of Canaan, which had been possessed and inherited by the heathen.

Verses 7-9

Psalms 111:7-9. The works of his hands All that he doth, either on the behalf of his people, or against his or their enemies; are verity and judgment Are exactly agreeable to his word or promises, and to the rules of eternal justice. All his commandments His laws given to the Israelites, especially the moral law, considered with its sanctions, the promises made to the observers of it, and the threatenings denounced against transgressors; are sure Constant and unchangeable, as being grounded upon the immutable rules of justice and equity. They stand fast, Hebrew, סמוכים , semuchim, they are established upon a sure foundation; and are done Constituted or ordered; in truth and uprightness With a sincere regard to the good and happiness of mankind, and without the least shadow of partiality or iniquity, and they will then appear in perfect glory and beauty, when all the arts and labours of man shall cease to exist. He sent redemption unto his people That deliverance out of Egypt, which was a type and pledge of that greater and higher redemption, which is by the Messiah. He hath commanded Appointed, or firmly established, by his power and authority; his covenant 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 ages, and differed only in circumstances. Holy and reverend is his name Terrible to his enemies, venerable in his people’s eyes, and holy in all his dealings with all men.

Verse 10

Psalms 111:10. The fear of the Lord That is, 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, the first and principal point of wisdom. A good understanding have all they that do his commandments That conscientiously walk according to them; for the practice of them, as Bishop Patrick observes, “gives men a better understanding of what is good for them, than any politic maxims can infuse into them.” His praise endureth for ever Let the Lord be for ever praised, who hath given us these good and wholesome laws, and thereby shown us the way to eternal honour and happiness. But the Hebrew may be rendered, the praise of it, that is, of the wisdom and good understanding of those that fear the Lord, endureth, or standeth fast, as עמדת , signifies, for ever: this will procure them such a substantial happiness as they can never be deprived of, either in this world or the next.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 111". Benson's Commentary. 1857.