Psalms 111 COMMENTARY (Ellicott)

Psalm 111
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Psalms 111, 112 should be read closely together, the one being a pendant of the other. They are both acrostics of at once the simplest and most perfect construction, each clause (not, as usual, each verse of two or more clauses) exhibiting the alphabetical arrangement. There are therefore exactly twenty-two clauses, nearly of three words each. In order to limit the number of verses to ten—considered a perfect number—the last two verses in each psalm are arranged as triplets.

The close relation of the two psalms is also exhibited in their subject. The first exhibits Jehovah in covenant with man; the second, man in covenant with Jehovah. The one sings the Divine praise in view of the kindness God has shown to Israel; in the second, the feeling of the just man—i.e., the Israelite faithful to the covenant, is the subject. In both we discover the strength of these religious convictions, which, in spite of the contradictions experienced in actual life, persist in maintaining the grand principle of Divine justice, and declaring that the cause of virtue will triumph, and success and wealth never fail the faithful.

The close relation of the two psalms is marked by the echo in the second, of phrases applied in the first to Jehovah. (Comp. e.g., Psalm 111:3, with Psalm 112:3; Psalm 112:9; Psalm 111:4, with Psalm 112:4; Psalm 112:6.)

Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.
(1) Praise ye the Lord.—This short doxology does not strictly form part of the psalm. The alphabetical arrangement begins with “I will praise,” &c

Assembly.—See Note on Psalm 25:14.

The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.
(2) Sought outi.e., they are the object of meditation and enquiry. (See Note, Psalm 105:4.) The psalmist was no doubt thinking of historical proofs of Jehovah’s goodness to the chosen race, but his words are capable of a wide range. The best illustration of them may be found in the writings in which Mr. Ruskin warns this generation against the danger of insensibility to natural beauty.

His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
(4) He hath made . . .—Literally, He hath made a memorial for His wonderful works, as in Joshua 4:7, &c.

He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.
(5) He hath given.—Better, He gave.

Meat.—The word often means “prey,” from its being torn as by a wild beast, but it is used in Proverbs 31:15, Malachi 3:10, in the simple sense of food. (Comp. also the verb, Proverbs 30:8.) There need not therefore be any allusion to the spoils taken in the Canaanitish wars, though the next verse makes this exceedingly probable. (See Sir G. Grove’s remarks; article “Meat” in Smith’s Bible Dictionary.)

He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.
The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.
They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.
He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.
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.
(10) A good understanding . . .—Better, a good estimation have all they that do them. The parallelism here, as the context of Proverbs 3:4, decides for this rendering against that of the margin, “a good success.” Not only is piety the beginning of wisdom, but righteousness wins good esteem. For by his praise we must certainly understand the praise of the good man.

Courtesy of Open Bible