From Psalms 108-114
Psalms 111 and 112 are commonly called twin psalms because they are both acrostic poems, have numerous similarities (introductions, common words and phrases) and both psalms show characteristics of wisdom literature. Psalm 112 cannot be read separately from Psalm 111 since the latter supplies the foundation by which the ethical statements of Psalm 112 are to be interpreted. Today we look at Psalm 111.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The Psalmist begins with praise to the LORD.
111 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. (Ps 111.1)
He gives thanks with his whole heart. The expression echoes the command to love the LORD with all ones heart, soul and might (Dt 6.5).
His praise is public, among the upright or the righteous. The congregation of God. He praises the LORD and gives thanks among his peers.
How do you publicly praise the LORD?
The Psalmist praises the LORD because of his great works.
2 Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful. (Ps 111.2-4)
The most significant of the LORD’s works to this date are his acts of creation and salvation of his people Israel.
His works are describes as expressions of the LORD’s splendor, majesty, righteousness, grace and mercy. The LORD causes his great works to be remembered for many generations.
What great works of the LORD do you remember?
5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. (Ps 111.5-6)
The works of the LORD in saving Israel were done in faithfulness to his covenant promises. The Psalmist now refers to the covenant explicitly and speaks about the LORD’s ongoing provision of food to those who fear him. This to is in faithfulness to the covenant.
The most prominent of his promises is giving them the promised land. Their ‘inheritance’. The land around them is evidence of the LORD’s power.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! (Ps 111.7-9)
One of the LORD’s works is giving Israel the law of Moses. His ‘precepts’. The LORD’s precepts are to be performed (obeyed) with faithfulness (to the covenant) and uprightness (righteousness).
The law of Moses and its precepts join together the notions of covenant and righteousness. Covenant ethics.
The Psalmist alludes to the sequence of events. Israel was redeemed by the LORD (delivered from Egypt) and then given the covenant law at Sinai. Thus the LORD is described as ‘commanding’ his covenant.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! (Ps 111.10)
The Psalmist begins with the LORD’s works and ends up reflecting on the law of Moses. The fear of the LORD, wisdom, understanding and practice are all associating with responding in obedience to what the LORD has done in redeeming them. This leads us nicely into Psalm 112 on another day.
“The psalm is specifically a study of Yahweh’s deeds (v 2). The psalmist deduces from the revealed character and activity of Yahweh the strong saving and keeping reality assured by the covenant of the law made at Sinai. Yahweh made a permanent commitment of relationship to the people. Associated with the renewal of the covenant was the divine promise of Canaan. The reference in v 6b is to Exod 34:10b, 11; v 5b has echoed Exod 34:10a.
Here then is the sacred history that was Israel’s theological foundation stone: the exodus, protection during the wilderness trek, and the gifts of the law and the promised land. This is the cluster of events to be celebrated as the touchstone of Yahweh’s power and purposes for the chosen people. These events mark God as a faithful patron and a just defender from all who would oppress his people.” (Allen, L.C., 2002. Psalms 101–150 (Revised), Dallas: Word, Incorporated.)
The LORD performed many great works of salvation. So does Jesus his son in the gospel.
17 … [Jesus] lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (Jn 17.1-5)
The Psalmist remembers the great, mighty, gracious and merciful works of the LORD done for Israel. Jesus refers to his own works and his glory. His glory which shines so brightly on the cross.
What are the works of Jesus which compel you to praise the LORD with your whole heart?
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