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The Psalmist by his example inciteth others to praise God for his glorious and gracious works. The fear of God breedeth true wisdom.
הללויה halleluiah. THIS psalm in the original consists of as many versicles as there are letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Bishop Patrick very reasonably supposes it to be a kind of epitome of the 105th and 106th psalms.
Psalms 111:2. Sought out of all them that have pleasure therein— Studied, or inquired into by all those who have pleasure therein. Houbigant and Green. Mudge renders it, Exquisitely contrived for all their purposes. This is a reflection, says he, arising from a view of the divine wisdom, which unerringly directs all its doings to their proper ends. This appeared by God's whole miraculous dealing with the Jewish nation, which at length safely instated them in the promised land.
Psalms 111:3. His work is honourable and glorious— This and the following verses seem to refer to those glorious manifestations of God's power in Egypt; to the passover, which was a gracious memorial of his favour to his people when he slew the Egyptians; to his miraculous provision for them in the wilderness, and to his settling them in their inheritance in Canaan.
Psalms 111:4. He hath made, &c.— He hath made him a memorial by his wonderful works; the Lord, gracious, &c.
Psalms 111:10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning— Or, as the original word ראשׁית reishith also signifies the first, the principal point. A good understanding have all they, &c. That is, "it is the surest mark of a good judgment, to apply one's self to the strict observance of God's commandments:" or, according to the original, A good understanding have all they that do it; i.e. who constantly observe this wisdom, this fear of the Lord: this will give them a better understanding of what is good for them, than any politic maxims can infuse into them. The next words may be rendered, the praise of it; i.e. of the wisdom and good understanding of those who fear the Lord: this will procure them such a substantial happiness, as nothing sub-lunary can possibly bestow upon them. This wisdom is called the fear of God, because deduced from the sovereign right of the Creator to demand the regard and obedience of his creatures: but it is such a fear, as is founded on a belief of, and attention to, all the attributes of the Deity, his goodness and mercy, as well as his justice and power, particularly as they are revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ: it is therefore often in scripture called, the love of God, and trust in God; it is a fear of displeasing him; a desire of imitating him; an affectionate sense of his adorable excellencies; a resolution of conforming ourselves to his will; and, in consequence, a satisfactory confidence of enjoying his protection in all events. The fear of God, thus understood and practised, turns the most awful of the divine attributes into the most consolatory articles of belief. The infinite power of God is no longer terrifying, when through Christ it is disarmed of vengeance; nay, is even matter of joy and delight, when considered as engaged in our behalf. The terrors of his justice need not make us afraid, when not offended by our wilful provocations, and satisfied by the atoning blood; yea, they are converted into supports of our expectations, when we reflect on the security and condition of the divine promises. His holiness will not make us fly his presence, when through Almighty Grace we have endeavoured to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Then all his gracious attributes of goodness to all, of patience and longsuffering to sinners, of mercy to returning penitents, appear mere exceeding gracious, and fill that soul with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, which is conscious of the divine favour through the gracious Redeemer, and has habitually and uniformly endeavoured to please and obey its Maker and Saviour: "Happy is the man that thus feareth alway." Proverbs 28:14. See Dodwell's sermon on Psalms 34:11.
REFLECTIONS.—We here find the Psalmist,
1. Professing his purpose to praise God with his whole heart, with unfeigned sincerity, and warm affection, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation, in social worship, or the courts of the sanctuary.
2. He would take the matter of his song from the works of the Lord, the works of creation, providence, and redemption, which are each of them so great and wonderful, and sought out of all them that have pleasure therein; who make these the delightful subjects of their contemplation, and long to increase their knowledge of them, that they may be more enlarged in love and praise. His work is honourable and glorious in itself, and suited to exalt the glory of the Divine artificer: his righteousness endureth for ever; all the dispensations of his providence and grace are altogether and everlastingly righteous and true, and especially that Divine work of redemption which Jesus wrought out for believers, to justify all who trust in it from every condemnation. He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered; they well deserve to be treasured up in our memories; and God hath graciously been pleased to transmit to us, in his word, his wonders of old time, to excite still our wonder and praise: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion, as sinners, to their unutterable comfort, experience in the salvation of Jesus Christ, and in the great and precious promises which are in him; and as appears also in all the instances of his providential care: for he hath given meat unto them that fear him, or, a prey; the spoil of the Egyptians; and, rather than they should want, hath provided in the wilderness, for Israel, bread from heaven; and still he continues to feed his believing people daily with that better bread from heaven, which giveth life unto the world: he will ever be mindful of his covenant, none of the promises of it shall ever fail, nor any of the blessings of it be withheld from his faithful people; and therefore they are bound to say Hallelujah, for mercies so inestimably precious, so gracious, and so free.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 111". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27