A COMMITMENT TO PRAISE THE LORD
After the initial exhortation to “Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 111:1), this song forms an acrostic, using all twenty-two Hebrew letters in alphabetical order.
As for the Psalmist, he has determined: “I will praise the LORD with my whole heart” (Psalm 111:1).
The heart is a metaphor for the inner self. It is the wellspring of emotions (Exodus 4:14); the seat of conscience (1 Samuel 25:31; 2 Samuel 24:10); the place of understanding (1 Kings 3:9); and the residence of faith (Romans 10:9-10).
Our praise should thus be deeply personal: but it also gives expression “in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation” (Psalm 111:1).
Let us not forsake our gathering together as part of the congregation of the Lord (Hebrews 10:25). There our praises are mingled with that of our brethren throughout the world, and throughout all ages. There our praises are joined by those of angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven (cf. Hebrews 12:22-24).
‘Where two or three are gathered together’ (Matthew 18:20) in the Name of Jesus there He is, ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23), in the midst. It is even as He has promised: ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5); ‘behold I am with you, even to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).
As we study “the works of the LORD” (Psalm 111:2), we come to know Him in His Person: but His acts arise out of His nature, not vice versa.
It is the light and glory of the sun that convinces me of the sun’s existence: but the sun existed long before my perception of it. The LORD’s “righteousness”, which is displayed so wonderfully in the Cross of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21), does not stop with this single act, but “endures for ever” (Psalm 111:3).
A recurring theme throughout this Psalm is “the wonderful works” of the LORD. The beauty of a rainbow, spanning a mountain glen, reminds us that He is “gracious and full of compassion” (Psalm 111:4).
As well as the work of Creation, there is the work of Providence, and the work of Redemption. He gives food to those who hold Him in awe, because He is mindful of His covenant with them (Psalm 111:5).
The power of His works is seen in His giving “the heritage of the nations” to Israel (Psalm 111:6). The meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
As we contemplate these things, we can be sure also of His Word. He is faithful and just, so we can trust His precepts (Psalm 111:7). ‘Grass withers, and the flower fades away, but His Word endures forever’ (Isaiah 40:8); ‘and this is the Word which by the gospel is preached to you’ (1 Peter 1:25).
His precepts “stand fast forever” (Psalm 111:8). Jesus came not to abolish them, but to fullfil them (Matthew 5:17-18). It is He alone who has done them “in truth and righteousness” (Psalm 111:8).
The law was our schoolmaster, leading us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Now we are partakers of the Redemption wrought by Him at Calvary. Through that one act - the giving of God’s only begotten Son to die for us, in our room and stead - the LORD has fulfilled His eternal covenant. “Holy and awesome is His Name” (Psalm 111:9).
Having studied the works of the LORD, the Psalmist concludes that reverencing the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. All those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever (Psalm 111:10).