Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 6th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Psalms 111

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verse 2


Psalms 111:2. The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

THIS psalm is one of those appointed by our Church for Easter Day: for which it is sufficiently appropriate, in that it celebrates that redemption of God’s people from Egypt, which was typical of the redemption wrought out for us by Christ upon the cross, and perfected by his resurrection from the dead. The structure of it is very peculiar. Every sentence begins with the different letters of the Hebrew alphabet in their order; the eight first verses consisting each of two sentences, and the two last of three sentences. This artificial mode of writing it seems to have been with a view to its being more easily remembered. The first word of it, “Hallelujah,” was, in fact, no part of the psalm itself, but only the title of it; and it shews us with what disposition of mind the subject should be contemplated, and with what feelings it was recorded. O that our souls might rise to the occasion, whilst we consider,


The greatness of God’s works!

Great indeed they were, even the deliverances accomplished for Israel in Egypt. Who can read of all the plagues with which that land was visited; or of the destruction of Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea; or of the wonders wrought for Israel in the wilderness; or of their final establishment in the land of Canaan; and not exclaim, “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty!” But, however much we may be disposed, in imitation of David in this psalm, to admire the perfections of God as illustrated in that stupendous work, we are called to the consideration of infinitely greater works, of which the deliverance from Egypt was but a type and shadow. Yes: in the redemption of the world we do indeed behold the perfections of our God shining forth, as it were, in meridian splendour. That was a work beyond all parallel and all conception great,


In wisdom and power—

[When Moses saw what God had wrought for the people of Israel at the Red Sea, he sang, “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders [Note: Exodus 15:11.]?” But St. Paul speaks of our blessed Lord as concentrating in himself all that is great and glorious, and as being, as it were in the abstract, “The wisdom of God, and the power of God [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:24.].” O what unsearchable depths of wisdom were contained in that mystery, the substitution of God’s only dear Son in the place of sinners; whereby the sins of the whole world are expiated, and the kingdom of heaven opened to millions, who, without such a Saviour, must have inherited the blackness of darkness for ever! — — — Nor was the power that effected our redemption less manifest, in forming the human nature of our Lord in the womb of a pure Virgin, free from all the taint of our original corruption; and enabling that body, so wonderfully formed, to bear the curse due to our iniquities, and to work out a righteousness adequate to the wants, and sufficient for the necessities, of a ruined world. View the triumphs of Jesus in the wilderness, and in the garden, and on the cross; in all of which “he spoiled the principalities and powers of hell:” view them also in his resurrection, and ascension, and in the operations of the Holy Spirit, whom he sent from heaven to complete the wonders of his grace: view these things, and say, whether “his work be not indeed honourable and glorious [Note: ver. 3.],” the very summit of wisdom, and the perfection of power.]


In goodness and mercy—

[So conspicuous were these perfections in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, that David could behold, as it were, nothing else. In a psalm where he specifies a great variety of particulars relating to it, he repeats no less than twenty-six times in as many verses, “His mercy endureth for ever [Note: Psalms 136:0.].” But what shall we say of his goodness and mercy to us in Christ Jesus? Eternity will be too short to enumerate the instances wherein these perfections are displayed, and to make such acknowledgments as this exhibition of them calls for at our hands. The manna from heaven, and the water from the rock, were but faint images of what we receive in and from the Lord Jesus Christ. O what supplies of grace, what rich communications of his blessed Spirit, does he impart to us from day to day! — — — And what forbearance does he exercise towards us! — — — Well indeed may we say with David, that “goodness and mercy have followed us all our days.”]


In righteousness and truth—

[In the whole dispensation, whether towards the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as our representative, or towards us whom he has redeemed, there has not been one single act which was not an act of justice, and an accomplishment of some preexisting declaration. Were our iniquities laid on the Lord Jesus, and punished in him? Was he, after having expiated those sins, exalted to glory, and seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high? All, as David speaks, “was verity and judgment [Note: ver. 7.].” In like manner, if we are pardoned, and raised to a participation of his glory, “mercy and truth meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other [Note: Psalms 85:10.].” Every threatening denounced against sin has been executed in the person of Christ; and every thing promised to Christ, or to us, is fulfilled, when for Christ’s sake we are restored to God’s favour, and made heirs of his inheritance — — —]

Agreeable to this character of God’s works is,


The respect paid to them by every true Christian.

The Christian is fitly represented as one “who has pleasure in these works”—
[The generality of mankind have, alas! no pleasure in these works, but rather put away the remembrance of them with abhorrence — — — But not so the Christian: he regards them with far different sensations. He indeed is not insensible to pleasures of other kinds, provided they be such as may be enjoyed with a good conscience towards God. He may, as a scholar and philosopher, feel delight in intellectual pursuits; and he may, as a member of society, find pleasure in the intercourse of friendship, or the enjoyment of domestic comforts. But, though he lose not his taste for such pleasures, his delight in them is altogether subordinated to higher and more spiritual enjoyments. Whatever he once accounted gain, is now esteemed by him comparatively as dross and dung [Note: Philippians 3:7-8.] — — — The wonders of redeeming love are on earth, as they will be in heaven, his constant solace, and his song.]

By him they “are sought out” with care and diligence—
[With a view to a more enlarged knowledge of these works, he reads the Holy Scriptures, searching into them as for hid treasures — — — He attends carefully on the ministry of the word, that he may both obtain a further insight into the Gospel, and have a richer experience of it in his soul — — — By constant meditation also, and by fervent prayer, he dives deeper and deeper into the great mysteries of godliness; musing, as it were, day and night, and crying mightily to God, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law!” Never does he imagine that he has yet attained. The more enlarged his views become, the more he sees, that he knows nothing yet as he ought to know: and he looks forward with proportionable earnestness to the eternal world, where the veil shall be taken from before his eyes, and he “will see as he is seen,” and “know even as he is known.”]


Seek yet more and more this most desirable of all knowledge—

[See with what persevering diligence the philosopher prosecutes the attainment of science — — — And will not ye, for the acquiring of knowledge wherein eternal life consists, and “which the angels themselves desire to look into?” — — —]


Endeavour more and more to make a suitable improvement of it—

[“Hallelujah” stands as the introduction to the contemplations of David. Let all your contemplations lead to, and terminate in, a similar acclamation. Such will be the result of all the knowledge which we shall possess in heaven — — — and such should be our improvement of all that we attain on earth — — —]

Verse 10


Psalms 111:10. 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.

OF all attainments that are made by man, wisdom is confessedly the highest: and well does it deserve the highest place in our esteem, because it elevates and ennobles him in whom it is found. This is true even of human wisdom: how much more, then, of that which is divine! But where shall divine wisdom be found? or who can ever estimate it aright, when found? These are questions propounded by holy Job; and they deserve our most attentive consideration. “Where,” says he, “shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not in me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx and the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it; neither shall it be valued with pure gold [Note: Job 28:12-19.].” Having stated all this, he again asks the question, “Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?” He then answers, that it is hid from the eyes of all living: that God alone understandeth it: and that he hath declared where and what it is: “Unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding [Note: Job 28:20-21; Job 28:24; Job 28:27-28.].” Now, rich and determinate as this passage is, it does not equal the declaration of David, who says, “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.” Here he not only identifies the fear of the Lord with wisdom, but carries on the comparison from the beginning to the end, from the first formation of them in the soul to their final completion in glory.

To enter fully into his meaning, we shall consider the fear of the Lord,


As existing in the soul—

“Man is born like a wild ass’s colt,” and is as destitute of true wisdom as he. “The fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom;” and then only does wisdom exist in the soul, when the fear of the Lord is implanted in it. But,
What do we understand by the fear of the Lord?
[This needs not to be stated at any length, because a very few words will suffice to explain it. The fear of the Lord is here put for true religion; even for such religion as manifests itself by a deep humiliation before God, a simple affiance in the Lord Jesus Christ, and an unreserved obedience to his will. This is well understood amongst you, and therefore needs not to be insisted on. You all know that it does not consist in a mere assent to Christianity as true, or a profession of it as the only true system: you are fully aware that there is comprehended in it a real surrender of ourselves to God as his redeemed people.]
This, when existing in the soul, is true wisdom—
[There is no true wisdom where this fear is not; for without this fear, a man views nothing aright, and does nothing aright. Earthly things have in his eyes an importance which does not properly belong to them — — — and heavenly things are in no respect appreciated according to their real worth — — — But when “God has put his fear into our hearts,” our misconceptions are removed, and our mistakes rectified. Sin is no longer that light and venial evil which we before supposed it to be; nor is salvation judged to be of so small consequence, that we can any longer neglect it. The salvation of the soul becomes from that moment the one thing needful; and all the concerns of time are swallowed up in those of eternity — — — This may be accounted folly: yea, it is so accounted by an ignorant and ungodly world: but God declares it to be wisdom; and such it will prove itself to be in the issue — — —]

But trace it,


As operating in the life—

In all its bearings, and in all its operations, the fear of the Lord approves itself to be true wisdom. Mark it as operating,


In the different ages and relations of life—

[Of whatever age a person be, whether young or old, the fear of the Lord will dictate to him such a deportment as befits him. And in every relation of life it will exalt his character. Husband or wife, parent or child, master or servant, magistrate or subject, all will know their place; all will fulfil their duties; all will execute their respective offices with care. In nothing will the operation of this principle more clearly appear, than in stimulating every one to discharge with diligence and propriety the duties of his own peculiar calling — — —]


In the different circumstances in which it may be placed—

[Are we in prosperity? this will keep us humble, and watchful against the temptations to which prosperity will expose us. Are we in adversity of any kind? this will support us from fainting and murmuring, on the one hand; and from a contemptuous apathy on the other. It will cause us to acknowledge a divine agency in every thing that occurs: and to make such an improvement of it, as that God may be glorified in all.
Of course, I must not be understood to say that the fear of the Lord will enlarge a man’s intellectual powers, any more than it will increase his bodily stature; at least, not to such a degree as to divest a man of his natural weakness. A man who is of slender capacity will continue so; and he will be liable to misapprehensions as arising out of that circumstance. A person of a weak mind will betray that weakness in any thing that may engage his attention: and, if it betray itself in his religious deportment, it will be very unjust to ascribe that to religion which proceeds only from his own imbecility, and would equally shew itself in any other occupation or pursuit. But this I will say, that this divine principle will go far to direct him, where his judgment, not so regulated, would err: and that, consequently, he will on the whole excel in wisdom those whose capacity and attainments are in other respects on a level with his own. I will further say, that, in proportion as he advances in true piety, his profiting in wisdom also will appear unto all.]
Let us view this principle yet further,


As completed in a better world—

The applause which ungodly men gain from their blind companions is of very short continuance. But that which piety secures will endure for ever.
The man who fears the Lord is not without applause in this world—
[What if he be derided by some? it is only by those who know not what true wisdom is: and who, if they acted in reference to earthly things as they do in relation to their heavenly concerns, would themselves be regarded by all mankind as fools and idiots. By every man whose good opinion is worth having, the godly man is loved and honoured — — — yea, and God himself also honours him with the richest manifestations of his presence and love — — —]
And how is he honoured in the eternal world!—
[Thither the angels of God bear him on their wings, exulting in the office assigned to them of ministering unto him. And no sooner is he arrived at the portals of heaven, than he is welcomed by God himself, who, in the presence of all the heavenly host, addresses him, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Behold the crown prepared for him! the throne also made ready for his reception! Behold the kingdom awarded to him as his inheritance, of which he takes possession as an “heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ!” Yes, truly, this is his praise; and will be so when they who here despised him shall “awake to shame and everlasting contempt.” “This praise, too, endureth for ever.” Whilst his once contemptuous enemies are “weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth” in hell, he will be in the full enjoyment of glory and honour and immortality, in the bosom of his God.]


Those who despise religion—

[Whence is it that ye despise it? Your contempt of it is altogether founded on your own ignorance and wickedness. “Satan has blinded your eyes,” and hardened your hearts, and is “leading you captive at his will.” And how long, think you, will you retain your present opinions? If God Almighty ever have mercy on your soul, your eyes will be opened to see your folly and impiety: but, if this mercy never be vouchsafed to you, not a minute will intervene between your departure hence and a total change of your views. You will then be perfectly like-minded with those whom you now despise: but who can express the regret which you will then feel at the review of your conduct? But then your regrets will be in vain: your day of grace will have for ever passed away; and you will for ever reap the bitter fruits of your wickedness — — —]


Those who are afraid of confessing Christ by reason of the contempt which they shall thereby encounter—

[It was not thus that your Saviour dealt with you. He knew to what shame and ignominy he should be exposed for you; and yet, “for the joy of saving your souls, he endured the cross and despised the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The same blessed issue is reserved for you also, if you approve yourselves faithful unto him: “If you deny him, he will deny you:” but, if you submit willingly to “suffer with him, you shall also be glorified together [Note: Rom 8:17 and 2 Timothy 2:12.].” Regard not, then, the scoffs of an ungodly world; but “rejoice rather that you are counted worthy to endure them.” But, after all, what is it that you are afraid of? an unkind look? an opprobrious name? or the finger of scorn? Truly you have but little pretence to wisdom, if by such things as these you can be deterred from confessing Him who lived and died for you.]


Those who by reason of indiscretion “give occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully”—

[It is greatly to be lamented that all who profess godliness do not act so wisely as they ought. There are many who, by the extravagance of their notions, or the absurdity of their deportment, cause religion itself to be reproached, and “the way of truth to be evil spoken of.” But I must declare to all such professors, that they incur a fearful responsibility before God; and that for every one who falls over the stumbling-blocks which are thus laid in his way, they must give account in the day of judgment. See to it then, Brethren, that ye “walk in wisdom towards those that are without;” and that instead of giving occasion of offence by any unwise conduct on your part, ye “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men by your well-doing.” Never forget that wisdom is identified with religion. It admits of nothing that is foolish or extravagant in any respect. Prudence, sobriety, soundness of judgment, and true discretion, are inseparable from it: and if we would adorn our profession, or be accepted of our God, we must “walk wisely before him in a perfect way [Note: Psalms 101:2.].”]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 111". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/psalms-111.html. 1832.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile