Commentary on Psalm 111

A comment on Psalm 111 by Greg Kenyon May 2009

Psalm 111

1 ¶ Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.

2 The works of the LORD are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them.

3 His work is honorable and glorious, And His righteousness endures forever.

4 He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

5 He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant.

6 ¶ He has declared to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations.

7 The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure.

8 They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness.

9 He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.


111:1 Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with [my] whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and [in] the congregation.

This psalm begins with an instruction, a command. We are commanded to praise the Lord. Why are we to do this? Are we to do it no matter what? What if it feels like the Lord has not dealt well with you or with your family? Do you dare ask such questions?

The psalmist says he will praise the Lord with his whole heart. Is this possible? Have you ever meditated on such a psalm and had your heart cry out, “I can’t.” When we consider the awesome power, righteousness and holiness of God, a jealous God, such thoughts can be most distressing. Will God accept half hearted praise of Him? The Lord calls the church of Laodicea wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked because they are lukewarm or half hearted. If they remain like this, the Lord Jesus will vomit them out of His month. (Revelations 3:14-22)

The psalmist does not discount the possibility of such questions and may have asked similar questions. Elsewhere, in the psalms when the writer (albeit, possibly a different writer than psalm 111) asks for the restoration of joy (Ps 51), the restoration of the ability to rejoice, is he not admitting times when he found himself unable to praise God with his whole heart? At least in the English, the tense of the verb “to praise” in Ps 111:1 is the future tense leaving the possibility of a struggle with praising the Lord with his whole heart while, at the same time, knowing that the time will certainly come when he can and will wholeheartedly praise the Lord. How does he know he will praise the Lord with his whole heart? He knows this because the Lord is worthy of praise. No other response would be right. The Psalmist lays before us the Lord’s worthiness in v2 to 9. He gives a compelling list of reasons to praise the Lord with ones whole heart.


The psalmist first considers the works of the Lord saying,

The works of the LORD [are] great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them. (Ps111:2)

How can anyone deny this? Just consider what David tells us of creation in psalm 19.

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 [There is] no speech nor language [Where] their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which [is] like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, [And] rejoices like a strong man to run its race. 6 Its rising [is] from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Ps 19:3-6)

Many in the world readily acknowledge the greatness of these general works of the Lord as they study and stand in awe before the wonders of nature. Yet, the greatness of nature goes well beyond what many in the world are willing to acknowledge for these works speak of the Creator, the Lord. Consider Romans 1:20,

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible [attributes] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (Rom 1:20)

Everything about nature clearly cries out, even demands, that people acknowledge the greatness of the Lord God. To deny the creation is to deny God, the creator. The greatness of these works of the Lord, seen in creation, are so wonderful that those who deny the Creator really have no excuse. How can anyone not take pleasure in the great and wonderful works of creation?

Next the psalmist tells us,

His work [is] honorable and glorious. (Ps 111:3a)

Everything about the Lord is worthy of glory and honour. The saints in heaven know this saying,

11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Rev 4:11)

Notice that Psalm 111:3 refers to the work (poæal),1 act or deed of the Lord rather than the more general works (maæaseh)2 of the Lord seen in His labour of creation. (v2) In Psalm 8, David also speaks of these two aspects of the Lord’s work. David considers first, the more general work of the Lord saying, (Ps 8:3)

3 When I consider Your heavens, the work (maæaseh) of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained.

Then, David draws attention to the more particular work of the Lord that work that He “crowned with glory and honour” saying,

4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You have made him to have dominion over the works (maæaseh) of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, (Ps 8:4-6)

This work of the Lord, referred to in Psalm 8:4-6, refers to man. Hebrews 2 teaches that it refers particularily to the man Jesus Christ, who is crowned with glory and honour because of what he accomplished through His suffering and death. The general works of the Lord, seen in creation, are great (v2) but this specific work of Lord, applied in and through Jesus Christ, is more than great. For it Jesus is “crowned with glory and honour.”

Although this work of the Lord, the restoring work of Jesus Christ, is a particular work and applies to a particular people, I include it with the more general reasons to praise the Lord as it applies not only to a particular people but to all of creation, to all of the works of God. Through Jesus’ work of suffering and death on the cross the Lord is restoring or reconciling of all of creation to Himself, creation which was broken by sin. Paul writes of this in Romans 8,

21 The creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:21-22)

This glorious and honourable work of God, the reconciling of all creation to Himself after it was broken by sin is the central theme of the Story of God. That “His work is honourable and glorious” should not be denied by anyone. For this work, the Lord ought to be wholeheartedly praised.

Next, the writer of Ps 111 says,

His (the Lord’s) righteousness endures forever. (Ps111:3b)

The Hebrew word translated “righteousness” is also translated “justice”. It could be said, “The Lord’s justice endures forever.” One who is righteous or just, if it is in their power, will not let injustices or unrighteousness go unchecked or unpunished. We first see such an act of God’s righteousness in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve have sinned and brought death upon themselves. God had declared or promised that death would be the result of disobeying His righteous standard. God, being just, kept His word. Rather then ignoring their sin, the Lord dealt with them righteously. He gave curses to Adam and Eve and put them out of the garden. As promised, death resulted. Adam and Eve no longer had the light of life. They had given their righteousness up and no longer had any righteousness to pass on to their children. As a result, all descendants of Adam are born in darkness. Without the light of life, they/we are unable live up to Gods righteous standard.

This can be hard to accept. When someone does a “kind” deed to another is not righteousness displayed? Ps 14, quoted by Paul in Romans 3, teaches, in reference to mankind, that there is “none righteous no not one.” (Romans 3:10) Isaiah speaks of the righteousness of men saying,

4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him.

5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved.

6 ¶ But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

7 And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, And have consumed us because of our iniquities.” (Isaiah 64:4-7)

When Isaiah says, “all of our righteousnesses are like filthy rags,” does he not acknowledge that there is a sense in which there is righteousness in some of the deeds of men? When a person helps another who is suffering we would say that it is right (righteous) and it likely is. But, Isaiah says that such acts of righteousness, on their own, fail to satisfy the righteous requirements of God. Such acts are of no more help at satisfying God’s requirement for righteous living then filthy rags do at making a person appear properly dressed. If we were able to live up to God’s righteous standard the Lord would meet with us. Instead all we can manage to do on our own is to elicit the anger of the Lord. We need to be saved. (Is 64:5)

Being righteous, the Lord does not ignore sin. He does not ignore the lack of righteousness in those He has created. All sin and rebellion (unrighteousness) will be dealt with. Satan the arch angel, the leader in unrighteousness, who rebelled against God said,

‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ (Isaiah 14:13-14)

God, who is forever righteous, will not allow such rebellion of prevail. At the same time as God put Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden, He promised a crushing judgement that would silence Satan saying,

15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise (crush) your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

Yes, Satan would attempt to destroy Christ, to destroy righteousness, but Christ, the seed of the women, would prevail. His righteousness will endure forever. This certainly is reason to wholeheartedly praise the Lord. For, in truth, with the defeat of Satan, all the unrighteousness he represents will be done away with

4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Building on reasons to wholeheartedly praise the Lord, the Psalmist says,

He (the Lord) has made His wonderful works to be remembered. (Ps 111:4a)

All of the works of the Lord, done for His people, are to be remembered. Indeed, they all point to His greatest work, that of saving His people from their sin. The most wonderful work of all, Jesus becoming flesh to take upon Himself our punishment, is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us.

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

How can we forget the love expressed in this great work?

This work of our Lord is to be remembered. In remembrance of Him and His great work, Jesus gave us His supper. We read of this in 1Corrintians,

24 And when He had given thanks, He broke [it] and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner [He] also [took] the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink [it], in remembrance of Me.” (1Cor 11:24-25)

How sad it is when people, like many in our country, “drift away” from the things of the Lord and treat this work, the good news of Jesus Christ, in a trite way. The Lord, Himself, calls to such people through the prophet, Isaiah, saying,

22 “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. 23 I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. (Is 45:22-23)

Indeed, in due time, this most wonderful work of the Lord will be remembered by all. All will bow to the King, the Lord Jesus Christ! The Apostle Paul, when quoting this truth says, “each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)

There is more to the Lord’s work to be remembered then the salvation of His people that results from the Lord’s most wonderful work. There is more to His wonderful works. Everything the Lord does is wonderful. As we learned above, the over-arching theme of the Story of God is His restoration all of creation. All of creation was damaged by the fall of man into sin. The wonderful work of Jesus on the cross will ultimately result in more than just the saving of His people from their sin. (Matt 1:21) Creation itself will be released from the bondage of corruption. Consider what Paul says in Romans 8.

18 the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected [it] in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only [that], but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:18-23)

There is even more to the wonderful works of the Lord. Not only will His people receive salvation and broken creation be restored to greater than its created glory, everything bad will be banished from the new creation. Even the desire we have for bad will be removed. Consider what we are told in the Revelation of Jesus Christ that came to the apostle, John.

3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them [and be] their God. 4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:3-5)

No evil nor any who loves evil will be there. For

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

15 But outside [are] dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Revelation 22:15)

Oh that I, that each of us, could love God so much that any desire to practice such things would have no hold. A lecture by Pastor Pronk (Church day 2006) spoke of how a real true affection for the Lord is what it takes to drive out our old affections for the things of this world. It is the Lord who fills us with this needed affection that begins even this side of glory to drive out our old sinful desires.3

All that the Lord has done, all His wonderful works will be remembered. Once restored, it will be forever wonderful and He who accomplished its restoration will be remembered forever. This, alone calls out for wholehearted praise but read on there is more.

The fifth reason the Psalmist gives for wholehearted praise is that

The LORD [is] gracious and full of compassion. (Ps 111:4b)

Grace is described as unwarranted favour; that is treating someone well who does not deserve to be treated well. The grace of the Lord goes even further then this. He treats people extremely well who actually deserve to be severely punished by Him. It is by this grace that the Lord saves His people. (Eph 2:8) Saves them from what? From the death they deserve because of their sin (Rom 3:23, 6:23). As well as being gracious the Lord is full of compassion. Being full of Compassion, here, may be more appropriately translated as being merciful. A search using Strong’s Numbers indicates that the Hebrew word, rachuwm (full of compassion), occurs 13 times in the OT and 8 times is translated “mercy”. The other 5 are translated “full of compassion”. In all but two occurrences, it is used along side the truth that God is gracious. Whereas grace is to give good that is not deserved, to be full of compassion or merciful is to withhold punishment that is deserved. These two go hand in hand. Any of us who are honest with ourselves before God will understand and agree that the Lord truly is full of compassion. He has not dealt with us, with me, according to what we deserve. David acknowledges this in Ps 103 saying,

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him.

14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

One of the “hard to understand” and, at times, “hard to accept” aspects of the Lord’s grace and mercy is found in Ex 33 where the Lord says to Moses,

I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious , and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion .” (Ex 33:19b)

It is hard to understand how the Lord can pass by some who seem so needy in our society? It becomes even more difficult to understand when I begin to appreciate the depth of my own depravity. Why would God show me grace and mercy over so many others.

On the other hand, there can be great comfort knowing that the grace and mercy of the Lord is totally independent of how bad I was or whether there is any goodness in me.4 If it depended on these, there would be no hope for me. There is but one simple requirement, that you hear God’s word and believe God.5 God in His grace and compassion gives us reason upon reason to believe in Him. There is no excuse for those who will not believe God.6 His grace and compassion are so great that this, alone, is reason enough to wholeheartedly praise the Lord.


So far, the psalmist has given reasons that have a general focus and are not necessarily directed at any specific group of people. Now, he narrows the focus to a specific group of people, to those who fear the Lord, saying,

He has given food to those who fear Him. (Ps 11 1:5a)

The Lord is the giver of all things good. (James 17:5) It is He who sustains all of life. (Eccl 5:18-20, Is 45) For physical life one is dependent on food. The fact that anyone has any food to sustain the body, means the Lord is worthy to be praised. But, here, the psalmist must be referring to more than this fact. The Lord gives physical food to all people but the psalmist is not referring to all people. This food that the Lord gives is given to a specific group of people, “to those who fear Him.” This raises two questions: “what is this food?” and “who are those who fear the Lord?”

First, what does it mean to fear the Lord? Does it include a sense of terror? Consider holy men like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, who, when confronted more directly by the Lord, fell down as if dead before him. It was considered that to see the Lord made one worthy of death. The Hebrew dictionary with my “Online Bible” defines the word translated “to fear” as “fearing; morally, reverent:- afraid, fearful.” I believe that this fear is based on some realization of who God is (not a complete realization, for who can know God completely) and of who we are. God is gracious and full of compassion. This means that to fear the Lord does not refer to a fear that comes because God desires to terrorize us, for He does not. Instead, it is a fear that stems from a knowledge that we, our life, our existence is totally dependent on the Lord’s willingness to sustain us, that it is up to the Lord whether we live or die, whether or not, or how, we will exist in eternity.

Another way to think about what it means to fear the Lord is to consider what it does not mean. It does not mean to ignore the significance of the Lord and to act as if He has no business, no right or no ability to interfere in ones life. Jesus says, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Not only can the Lord destroy both soul and body in hell, His justice demands that this penalty for sin be paid. “The soul who sins must die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20) Yet, the gracious and compassionate Lord “has no pleasure in the death of one who dies” (Ezekiel 18:32) and He compels us saying, “cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:31) Holding onto our old heart and spirit ought to make us afraid. Only the Lord can give us a new heart “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

To fear the Lord is to see the Lord for who He is, the One truly worthy of wholehearted praise. The book of Proverbs buts it this way;

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, (1:7a)

Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God, (2:5)

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate, (8:13)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding, (9:10)

The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened, (10:27)

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge, (14:26)

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death, (14:27)

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble, (15:16)

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility, (15:33)

In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil, (16:6)

The fear of the LORD leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil, (19:23)

By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life, (22:4)

Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day. (23:17)

To those who fear Him, the Lord has given food.

What is this food? As shown above, although it can include the physical needs of life, this is not what the psalmist is referring to. We can gain some insight from the passages in proverbs. Those who fear the Lord get knowledge, understanding, wisdom, strong confidence, refuge and life and they learn to hate and depart from evil. Jesus tells us of bread that comes down from heaven saying, “ I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” (John 6:50-51) Jesus is the food that is given to those who fear Him. Jesus tells us, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27) Jesus is the giver of food to those who fear Him. Jesus gives us Himself. Jesus says,

4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:4-8)

The Lord gives food to those who fear Him. For this He is worthy of wholehearted praise!

Considering the required condition that “I fear the Lord”, can I expect this promise to apply to me? Does anyone meet this condition? This issue brings us face to face with the tension that is central to the gospel, God’s sovereign right to “have mercy on whom he will have mercy” (Ex 33:19), to feed some and not others; and His demand that we love Him and fear Him. How often do we live as though the Lord does not matter in our lives? How often do we, even worse, express our hatred of the Lord, saying, “It is not fair that you allowed this to happen to me”? The Lord Jesus says that those who love Him will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Too often, we do just the opposite and knowingly go against the commandments of the Lord? Left to ourselves, we will not, can not meet this condition. Yet, we must, if we hope to be spiritually fed. So, how can this be included in a list of reasons to praise the Lord? The same condition, in some way, even applies to the mercy of the Lord. In the second commandment, the Lord tells us that He will show mercy to thousands, to those who love Him and keep His commandments. The Lord understands our questions and lets His people know of His care. In the wilderness he gave physical evidence that His promise to feed His people was real. The Lord let His people know that this did apply to them by physically feeding them with manna in the wilderness. This was not just a little food but was abundant and provided all they needed. Jesus prays to God the Father about those who the Father has given Him saying, “I have given them Your word.” Jesus the bread of life, the Word, that was from the beginning, has put a real physical bread in you hand, in the form of The Book, the Word of God, that we can feed upon. (John 17) Jesus also tells those the Father has given him, those who have a desire to know God, those who feed from the Book of Life, the Word of God, “I will pray the Father, and He will give another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him not knows Him: but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17) The great creeds of the early church, that have stood the test of time, in their biblical summary of our triune God, speak of “the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son…” (Nicene Creed) Jesus the bread of Life to respond to our question, “does this really apply to me?,” not only gave real physical manna abundantly to the Israelites to feed on in the wilderness, and gives us his real physical Word to read and feed upon in the wilderness of life, but He also sends to live in us the real bread of life, Himself, to sustain us, in the form of the Holy Spirt who proceeds from Jesus, the bread of life. He allow our questions and gives food abundantly to those who fear Him.

As if aware of this question, “How can this promise, of food for those who fear the Lord, apply to someone like me?”, the Psalmist continues, saying of the Lord,

He will ever be mindful of His covenant. (Ps 111:5b)

This covenant of the Lord, often called the covenant of grace, holds together all of Scripture. This covenant is between the Lord and His creation, the Lord and His people. A third group effected by the covenant are those who exclude themselves from the covenant by their rebellion against God.

This covenant that the Lord is ever mindful of, first, is very necessary. This agreement between God and His people became necessary the moment Adam and Eve believed the deception of Satan and ate of the tree that God said they must not eat, least they die. They did die. They were put out of the garden, separated from the blessings of the Lord. They rendered themselves unable to return to the blessed life they were created to enjoy. (Genesis 3) This curse was all they had to pass onto their descendants. Even worse, for Adam and Eve and all their descendants, like us, rebellion against the Lord became the norm. (Rom 3:9-18) This is bad news for all of creation for, unless something changes, we naturally go about destroying what God created very good. The needed change comes about through the Lord’s covenant. His covenant with us and with creation is designed to restore creation and a people back to right and joyful relationship with Him. This covenant of the Lord is necessary. It is our only hope. The fact that the Lord is “ever mindful” of it makes Him worthy of whole hearted praise.

This covenant is a sure covenant. The first details of this covenant are seen in Genesis 3:15 where the Lord God says to Satan,

I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel. (Genesis 3:15)

The Lord says, “I will…” The seed of the women shall (will) bruise Satan’s head. Satan shall (will) bruise the “seed of the women’s” heal. According to the Lord, this would most surely come to pass. If this needed covenant, our only hope, were to fail, then what? That He is ever mindful of His Covenant, that it is sure and will not fail, is reason for wholehearted praise of Him.

This covenant is also a particular covenant, an agreement between the Lord and a particular people. This is first seen clearly in Genesis 12-17 when the Lord calls Abram and says that He will be a great nation and that all nations of the world will be blessed through him, Abram. One hallmark of this particular people is that they are the ones who learn to “fear the Lord,” and will be given abundantly all the “food” that they need to flourish. The Lord’s covenant is with those fed by Jesus, those who learn to feed upon Jesus, the bread of life.

That this covenant must be particular can be seen when we consider the free will of man. The fact that the Lord created man with a free will, the ability to choose to love the Lord or to rebel against the Lord,7 demands that this covenant apply to this particular group of people. If God saves all mankind, then, necessarily, we do not have the ability to choose to sin or to ignore God’s grace. If we do not choose to sin, where does sin come from. It can not come from God. Scripture tells us that the Lord, Jesus Christ “knew no sin.” (2Cor 5:21) All of creation is a reflection of God’s glory. Since He knew no sin, He could not put sin into creation. God is not the author of sin. With the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, when, at the instigation of Satan, they chose to rebel against God’s good law, we lost our ability to choose to love the Lord.8 Yet, we retained our ability to choose to sin. All mankind sins because they choose to sin. Therefore, all deserve the death penalty for sin. (Rom 6:23a) God’s covenant, the promise that all pertaining to Satan and sin would one day be crushed or defeated, is necessarily particularly for those who hope to be feed by Him. Because God is mindful of this covenant all who stubbornly persist in rebellion against the Lord will be defeated and will have no part in the new heaven and the new earth (Rev 21:1-8) meaning that only those who desire to live according to the will of the Lord will be there. For this the Lord is worthy of whole hearted praise.

Yet, for those of us who fear Him there remains a problem. Left to ourselves, as slaves to sin, we will not fear the Lord and can not meet this condition. Yet, we must. Although we know that God’s covenant is a sure covenant, we can find ourselves asking if we can really hope to be spiritually fed and asking, is God’s covenant for nothing? How can this be a reason to praise the Lord?

At the time of the writing of this psalm, the commitment of the covenant keeping God was seen at least in part in the facts that God had brought His people, Israel out of the land of Egypt out of the house of bandage, he had sustained them for 40 years in the wilderness and brought them into the promised land. This ought to encourage us to praise the Lord, who will ever be mindful of His covenant. Yet, at the same time, there remains a problem, Israel rebelled against the Lord and their land was taken away. Can we hope for anything more?

The Psalmist delves more deeply into his reasons for praising the Lord.

He has declared to His people the power of His works,9 In giving them the heritage of the nations. (Ps 111:6)

Notice, that the Psalmist does not say that the Lord has declared the power of His works to everyone. Instead, he says that the Lord has declared the power of works specifically to His people. Yes, the works of the Lord can literally be seen by all mankind but they are not understood nor is their meaning revealed to all. Paul teaches in 1Cor 2:9-14,

9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

At the time of the writing of this psalm, the people of God had seen much of God’s powerful works. They had seen the Egyptians destroyed by the power of God through the ten plagues. They had been freed by the power of the Lord’s hand from the house of bondage, the land of Egypt. They had experienced the parting of the red sea, were sustained by the Lord for forty years in the wilderness, crossed the Jordan on dry ground, watched the Lord bring down the walls of Jericho, and the Lord giving into their hand the rest of the promised land. Yes, the Lord, by His power, gave His people a heritage, the land He had promised them, the land of the Canaanites. Psalm 78 lists detail after detail of how, through His powerful works, God gives His people the heritage of nations. Not only does the Lord establish Israel as a great nation in the land of the Canaanites, etc., He also draws many nations into His fold, as He promised to in His covenant with Abraham and his seed. God promised Abraham would be a father of many nations (Gen 17) and through him all the nations of the world would be blessed. (Gen 18:18, 22:18, 26:4) Galations 3:8 shows clearly that this same promise, to one giving to Abraham brings blessing to gentiles, that is to people from all the other nations saying, “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” As we see the gospel today spread throughout the world, we ought to wholeheartedly praise the Lord for this declarations to His people of the power of His works. Salvations in Jesus Christ is so amazing, so powerful, that it can not be contained. God’s word is living and powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and when it goes out it will always accomplish what it is intended to accomplish. (Isaiah 55:11) Thorns and brier bushes (those things that came because of sin) will be replaced with cypress and myrtle trees. (these represent people restored to God by the gospel, Isaiah 55:6-13)

But, as Psalm 78 also tells us, time and time again the sin and rebellion of the people interfered. Eventually the land was taken away. Indeed, we have seen sin and rebellion interfere in the workings of the Christian church time and time again. Again comes the question, how then is this a reason to wholeheartedly praise the Lord? Consider what Isaiah says to the people of God as they toy with sin.

27 ¶ Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God”?

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.

29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall,

31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:27-31)

The Lord is indeed powerful. The Lord does give victory to his people, but does he then let them/us utterly fall?

Lest we despair, consider what the Psalmist says next in his reasons for why he praises the Lord with his whole heart.

The works of His hands [are] verity and justice; All His precepts [are] sure. They stand fast forever and ever, [And are] done in truth and uprightness. (Ps 111:7-8)

The ways of the Lord are true and just and His laws are sure for all of mankind. Nothing happens outside of His truth, His justice and His sure law. Those who were destroyed in the land of Canaan, when God brought His people, Israel, into the land, were not destroyed unjustly.10 The truth, justice and sureness of God’s law, like the reasons to praise the Lord given in vs 2, 3 & 4, is true for all of mankind. Yet, the psalmist is not turning the focus away from the people of God, from those who fear the Lord, from His covenant. Here the stage is being prepared to introduce the central work of the Lord, that work of bringing redemption to His people. (v9) Everything the Lord does is right and just. Nothing the Lord decrees will fail. All His precepts are sure. Of this David writes in Psalm 19

8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

11 by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

The fact that the precepts of the Lord are right and true impacts and brings reward to His servants, those who keep His law. (That is those who fear Him.) But who of us can keep this law? Is there reason to rejoice for me, for you, who so often fail to keep the law of the Lord? David continues asking the same question.

12a Who can understand his errors? (Ps 19:10-12b)

Paul, in Romans 3, quoting Psalms 14 and 53 provides the answer.

10b There is none righteous, no, not one;

11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.

12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. (Rom 3:10b-12)

Clearly, in scripture, the Lord’s truth and justice finds that everyone in the world is guilty before God (Rom 3:19). This truth was known to the Psalmist for it is clearly stated repeatedly in the books of the Law,

26 ¶ “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse:

27 “the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today;

28 “and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. (Deut 11:26-28)

Paul states the truth this way, “All, [including you and me], fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) In this state, according to the verity, justice and sureness of the Lord’s law, no one has reason to expect blessing from the Lord. Yet, the psalmist includes this truth about God in his reasons to praise the Lord with his whole heart. Why? Given the truth of God’s justice, how can we praise the Lord with our whole heart?

David understood what was needed and in Psalm 19, after saying “who can understand his error?,” he pleads with the Lord saying,

12b Cleanse me from secret faults.

13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

14a Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD…

When faced with the law of God, David understood that he needed to have his sins removed, that he needed to be redeemed from being a slave to sin. Being warned by the truth and justice of God, drives David to God the only one who can rightly (truthfully and justly) cleanse him from sin. David understood not only that only God can do this but that God does do this and closes Psalm 19 with the words,

14b my strength and my Redeemer.

The truth, justice and sureness of the Lord’s precepts make the Lord worthy of wholehearted praise, especially when they humble us and drive us to Christ, the only living bread and water that can sustain us.

Having set the stage to introduce the central work of the Lord, the Psalmist, in Ps 111, after presenting the Lord’s truth and justice, comes to the same conclusion as David. He, now, presents the central reason that he will praise the Lord with his whole heart.

He [the Lord] has sent redemption to His people. (Ps 111:9a)

One of my favouritepassages is Romans 3:21-26. Paul writes, after proving in Romans 1:18-2:20 that there is no one that the Law does not leave condemned before the Lord God,

21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Today, Jesus Christ, the promised seed of the women (Genesis 3:15), the one in the loins of Abraham, through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3), the Son of David, the Rod from the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), the Son given to God’s People, Israel (Is 9:6), the One who came to save (redeem) His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), the Promised One, my Strength and my Redeemer, He has been fully revealed. He has completed all that is required to redeem His people, to utterly crush Satan and to reconcile all of creation to Himself. (Note the three fold nature of His work) This most honorable and glorious work (v3) was completed when He said on the cross, “it is finished.”11 His work will never be forgotten (v4). His work will stand fast forever (v8). Jesus, through this work, finished the preparation of the most perfect food, Himself, the bread of life, the food with which He feeds all of those who fear Him (v5).

The breadth of the power of this work of Jesus is most amazing. For this work that was finished some 3000 years after it was promised to Abraham, was and is sufficient to provide Abraham and his seed (those who believed in the promised) with redemption from the bondage of sin. Paul shows this truth about the breadth of the power of Christ’s work in Romans 4. He writes,

3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

21 and being fully convinced that what He [the Lord] had promised He was also able to perform.

22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3, 21-22)

The breadth of the power of Jesus’ redeeming work is so amazing. For the work that was finished some 2000 years ago is still sufficient to provide redemption even today for His people, those who believe in the promise.

The redemption that the Lord has sent applies specifically to His people. Who are His people? Above we have noted that it applies to those who believe the promise that the Lord has given. Paul put it this way in Romans 10,

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”

(It is important to remember that there is “none righteous no not one.” (Rom 3:10, Ps 14, Ps 53) None of us will be saved by our keeping the law. That is why it is so important and comforting that God has revealed this righteousness that is apart from the law, that is given freely, by grace, and is set forth by God; and why it is so important and comforting that God has sent redemption to his people in Jesus Christ.)

6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above)

7 or,” ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

The important Question to answer for one to wholeheartedly praise the Lord is, “does the promised redemption through Jesus Christ apply of me?” In Revelations, Jesus has something to say about who this promised redemption applies to. Jesus now sits on the throne of heaven (Revelation 4) receiving glory and honour from the host of heaven, from the faithful believers who have already died, and from those of us who love Him. John writes of Jesus in Revelation 21,

5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

7 “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (Rev 21:5-7)

The Lord has sent redemption to His people. It is finished! It is done! The fountain of the water of life comes freely to him who thirsts. Those with real thirst will come to the water of life, Jesus Christ, and drink of Him. The finished work of Jesus is sufficient to take care of all their sin. This, of course, is a most glorious reason to wholeheartedly praise the Lord, who has, in a very complete way, sent redemption to His people.

What the Spirit, the third person of God, says must be stated.

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev 22:17)

The invitation is to all who thirst and desire to come and take the water of life freely. No one is left out of this invitation. Whoever desires is invited to come. Notice that this invitation not only comes from the Spirit but from the Spirit and the bride. The Spirit works with the bride of Christ, the Church, and the Church works with the Spirit to say to all the world,

Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev 22:17)

The fullness of the redemption that the Lord has sent to His people is so amazing, so fulfilling that those who, in their thirst, come to the Water of Life, Jesus Christ, and drink are filled with life abundantly. The Spirit of God is poured out upon them. They overflow with life. It becomes impossible to not, in some way, work with the Spirt, to fulfill the great commission Jesus gives to all His disciples.

18b “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Yes, the Lord has sent redemption to His people. Jesus Christ has come. His honorable, glorious, wonderful redemptive work on the cross is finished. This, indeed, is worthy of wholehearted praise. But, sin is still so common. The apostle Paul still needs to instruct us to always be prepared for battle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Although the work is finished, today the work has not had its full effect. So the psalmist brings our thoughts back to the Covenant of the Lord, that He is ever mindful of, saying,

He (the Lord) has commanded His covenant forever. (Ps 111:9b)

The covenant that the Lord is ever mindful of is forever. Note, the psalmist does not just says that the Lord’s covenant stands forever. He says that the Lord commanded it! Above, from Psalm 19, we learned that the commandments, the statutes, the judgements of the Lord are right, pure and true. By the commandment of God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, His covenant will stand forever. It will not fail. Jesus Christ, the seed of the women, will ultimately, through His finished work, crush Satan so that Satan will be totally unable to have any influence on the world any more. Jesus will more than release creation from the bondage it is now under. He will totally renew creation. To this new heaven and new earth Jesus will gather His people to Himself to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. (Revelation 21) This truth may be hard to believe considering the sin and evil still present in the world. The following picture may help. When a rocket is launched into space the work, the preparation of the rocket, the calculation of the flight path, the delivering to the right amount of fuel, all is set. With blastoff the work is done. Now you can observe the effect of the work unfolding. The work of Christ is finished but has not yet taken it full effect. The crushing blow to Satan has been delivered. There is no way for Satan to get out from under its path. The foundation of the Church is set. Christ and His bride are engaged and preparing for the wedding feast. Remember that in the time of the writing of scripture the engagement (betrothal) was not something that could easily or rightly be broken off.12 Christ has paid the bride price. The wedding will happen in the fullness of time and nothing will tear the church away from Christ. The Lord has commanded this, His covenant, forever. For this, the Lord is most certainly worthy of wholehearted praise!

Having just declared the absolute worthiness of the Lord to be praised with his whole heart, what is left for the psalmist to say? He declares of the Lord, as one bowed down before the Lord,

Holy and awesome [is] His name. (Ps 111:9c)

The Lord, His name is holy. The Hebrew word translated “holy” is said to mean “set apart.” In the singular, as a noun, it is often translated the Holy One, the Set Apart One. In the plural it is translated saints, the set apart ones. There is only One who is set apart and completely distinct from all else. He is the Creator of the heavens, the earth, of fish, birds, animals, men and angels (thus the creator of all beings). All things and beings other than the Creator, rather then being completely distinct or set apart from one another, have one thing in common. They are all created by the Creator. They are all part of creation and their existence depends on the Creator (Acts 17:28), rather than being set apart from Him. Only the Creator is not of creation, is other than creation, is totally set apart from creation. The Creator is the only absolutely Set Apart One whose being is dependent on none other. The Creator, the Lord God is the Holy One and His name alone is Holy. He is the only one who can hold the name “I am” from eternity to eternity. Only He can say of Himself, before creation “I am”, the name of Himself that He told to Noah. (Exodus 3:14) Only He is set apart from all else. (Deuteronomy 4:35)

Some may be tempted to think that God is in creation and not totally set apart from it. All creation was made to be a reflection of the glory of God, to be a revelation of God, to make visible His invisible attributes, even His eternal power and Godhead And, indeed, it does this, leaving men who deny the truth of God without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20) But God remains totally other than creation. Unlike creation, He is infinite, eternal, unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.13 Creation at most can give but a partial reflection of God. God, on the other hand, is above, over, surrounds all things.14 All things are “within His hand,” under His control, under His care and depend on Him, while He is dependent on no one other than himself. (Isaiah 40)

All things created have changed from the state wherein they were created. Sin and rebellion against the Lord have affected all of creation. Nature waits to be released from its bondage as already discussed. Sinful beings are all separated from God. Being sinful separates us from the Lord God. (Isaiah 59:2) The Holy One does not sin, will not sin, can not sin.15 It is an awesome thing for sinners to consider the Holy One. Our passage could also be translated “Holy and terrible is His name.” To stand before the Lord with your sin uncovered would be a terrible thing, for those there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:41-42) For Satan and the fallen angels there is no return into favour with God. (Jude 6:1) For man there would also be no hope of returning to favour with God, but God who is gracious and full of compassion, who feeds those who fear Him with living food, is ever mindful of His promise. He has declared to His people the power of His works in justly giving them a heritage by sending redemption to His people.

One of the most amazing things about this redemption is that the Lord, the Set Apart One, willingly makes Himself part of creation. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He was (is) like us in that He, born of a women, was a real, flesh and blood, man. Yet, He was set apart from us as He was still God, the Holy one who did not sin. As the God-Man He was able to bear the full punishment for all of sin of His people, setting them apart from the rest of mankind.

Those redeemed by Christ have been called out of, or set apart from, the world and are the saints, the set apart ones. Their holiness is not of themselves. They remain totally dependent on the holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the set apart One. They know it is a terrible thing to stand before the Holy Lord God without redemption in Jesus Christ. The Psalmist knows something of this as well.

The Psalmist closes this list of reasons to wholeheartedly praise the Lord saying,

The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom. (Ps 111:10a)

Fearing the Lord, that is, truly seeing oneself as you really are, a very small thing and sinful at that, totally dependent before the Lord, the Great, Holy and Awesome One, who will not leave sin unpunished with the only just punishment of death, ought to leave one trembling and ought to lead one to cry out, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner. An amazing thing is that the holiness and awesomeness or terribleness of God leads us to seek out just what we need, His grace and mercy. This is the true beginning of wisdom, the source of real happiness. Proverbs puts it this way, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Prov 9:10) Happy is the man who finds wisdom and a man who gains understanding. (Prov 3:13) Wisdom is better than rubies and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her. (Prov 8:11) Gaining a true knowledge of the Lord is a good thing. The fullness of the beauty and goodness of the Lord, including His grace and mercy, are more clearly understood when seen along side His holiness and awesomeness. One who is not stopped short in his/her sin before the Lord, one who has not begun to see the holiness and awesomeness of the Lord, one who does not fear the Lord, is a fool. A fool despises the Lord, His wisdom and instruction. (Prov 1:7) The Psalmist realized that the fear of the Lord leads to true wisdom but he also realizes that this is the beginning. It does not stop here.

He continues,

A good understanding have all those who do [His commandments]. (Ps 111:10b)

Those who have begun to fear the Lord, who have the beginning of wisdom, begin to view life in a new way. Paul, in 2Corinthians 5, speaks of how the love of Christ, the love which is behind our beginning of wisdom, compels us saying,

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;

15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 ¶ Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. (2Corinthians 5:14-20)

The Psalmist of Psalm 111 understood what the Apostle Paul understood, that those who know and remember the wonderful work of God (the good news of Jesus Christ), who have experienced the grace and mercy of the Lord, those who have begun to feed on the life giving food, Jesus Christ, who have seen something of the holiness and awesomeness of God, and who have the beginning of true wisdom; do not stop at this for they live no longer for themselves, (2Cor 5:15) for this old way of life has passed away. (2cor 5:17) They live for Him who did the work of dying for them and rose again. (2Cor 5:15) They follow the new way and become ambassadors for Christ and implore those around them to be reconciled to God. (2Cor 5:20) Having wisdom, a good understanding of the Lord and what He desires of us, leads us to live for the Lord, to do His commandments. His commandments are summarized this way. Love the Lord your God with all of you heart and love you neighbour as yourself. The Prophet Micah put it this way when speaking of what the Lord wants of us, of how we ought to love the Lord, saying,

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Oh that each of us would say with John the Baptist, “I must decrease, He (Jesus) must increase,” that each of us would place less importance on ourselves, replacing it with what the Lord wants of us. Why? Because we love Him. Why? Because He first love us, came to the earth, suffered, died and bore the Fathers wrath that we deserved to bear because of our sins. This is the concern of those who have wisdom, who have a good understanding.

What else can be said? The Psalmist completes his list and sums up the wholehearted praiseworthiness of the Lord saying,

His praise endures forever. (Ps 111:10c)

Yes, indeed, the Lord is forever worthy of wholehearted praise. He always has been and always will be for His creation works, for His honourable and glorious work of reconciling broken creation, for His enduring righteousness and wonderful work of salvation that will never be forgotten, for His grace and mercy, that He gives us wonderful goodness that we do not deserve and takes upon Himself the severe punishment we do deserve, for giving Himself, the wonderful bread of life, to nourish our souls, for never letting go of His covenant with us, that is so necessary and sure, for His far reaching heritage that He powerfully declares, for the truth, justice and sureness of His precepts, that humble us and drive us to Christ, and first and foremost for Jesus our redeemer who completed His redemptive work on the cross to save us from our sins, to reconcile creation to Himself, while crushing Satan and Satan’s followers, for making sure that His (the Lord’s) covenant will never fail, for providing us with wisdom and, finally, for using us to share all this, His gospel (good) news with others. Holy and Awesome is our God. His praise endures forever!

Yes, the conclusion of the matter is that the Lord is worthy of wholehearted praise and always will be. Yet, a final comment is necessary, not to build on the conclusion that the Psalmist has brought us to, for this conclusion is complete, but to comment on the questions I raised during the reading of this psalm. So, what are you to do if you feel like you can’t wholeheartedly praise the Lord because you feel like He has not dealt well with you, your family or someone else important to you? Consider the Lord God. He rewards those who keep His law (Psalm 19:11). Yet, you find you can not keep His law. Still there is reason for real hope for there is one who does keep the law perfectly, the Sent One, Jesus Christ, sent to do the work of God and redeem His people from their sin. In Him His people are seen by the Father as a law keepers. Not only are they seen as law keepers but, in Christ, they begin to really be able to keep the law. It may be a small beginning but it is a beginning and one day, in glory, they will be able to keep God’s law perfectly along with Christ. The question is not are you able now to keep God’s law perfectly but, instead, is it troubling to you when you discover that you have failed to keep His law? Does His holiness and awesomeness drive you to your knees confessing your sin, your need of His redemption, of His salvation and of His sanctification? Do you fear the Him? Do you then, again, desire to keep His law and has His holiness become an awesome thing to you? As we fail to live up to God’s standard and, even worse, as we rebel against Him time and time again, will He let us utterly fall. No! He has truly and justly brought redemption to His people. This will stand fast forever. After meditating on the Lord God, on His creation works, on His work of reconciliation, on the way He deals graciously and compassionately, on His true, just and upright law, after beginning to see how He loves you, feeds you, redeems you, and draws you into His wisdom for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, the Holy and Awesome One, the questions begin to fade away being replaced by the glory and joy of the Lord. Yes, His praise endures forever, and He, the Lord God, is most certainly worthy of wholehearted praise. Praise the LORD!

I will praise the LORD with my whole heart. Amen!

1poæal (po’- al); from paæal (paw-al’); an act or work (concretely):— act, deed, do, getting, maker, work.

paæal (paw-al’); a primitive root; to do or make (systematically and habitually), especially to practise:— commit, [evil-] do(-er), make(-r), ordain, work(-er).

2maæaseh (mah-as-eh’); from æasah (aw-saw’); an action (good or bad); generally, a transaction; abstractly, activity; by implication, a product (specifically, a poem) or (generally) property:— act, art, + bakemeat, business, deed, do(-ing), labor, thing made, ware of making, occupation, thing offered, operation, possession, X well, ([handy-, needle-, net-])work( ing, -manship), wrought.

æasah (aw-saw’); a primitive root; to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application (as follows):— accomplish, advance, appoint, apt, be at, become, bear, bestow, bring forth, bruise, be busy, X certainly, have the charge of, commit, deal (with), deck, + displease, do, (ready) dress(-ed), (put in) execute(-ion), exercise, fashion, + feast, [fight-]ing man, + finish, fit, fly, follow, fulfill, furnish, gather, get, go about, govern, grant, great, + hinder, hold ([a feast]), X indeed, + be industrious, + journey, keep, labour, maintain, make, be meet, observe, be occupied, offer, + officer, pare, bring (come) to pass, perform, pracise, prepare, procure, provide, put, requite, X sacrifice, serve, set, shew, X sin, spend, X surely, take, X thoroughly, trim, X very, + vex, be [warr-]ior, work(-man), yield, use. H

3Pastor Pronk, The Expulsive Power of A New Affection, lecture presented at Church Day of the Free Reformed Churches of North America, September 4, 2006. This lecture was based on a Sermon by 19th century Scottish divine, Thomas Chalmers.

4Salvation or rightness before God is by grace alone and not dependent on good works. Ephesians 2:8-8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God not of works, lest anyone should boast; Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved); Romans 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began

5John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life; 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets; Romans 3:21-26

22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

6God leaves all people without excuse. The wonderful works of creation are enough. They demand that we believe God as Romans 1 shows us. Romans 1:20, “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Although the wonderful works of creation are enough to leave men without excuse, God in grace and compassion gave His Word to the world. Jesus says of the world in John 15:18-25 (especially v22), “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.”

18 ¶ “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

21 “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

22 “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

23 “He who hates Me hates My Father also.

24 “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.

25 “But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

Jesus has more then spoken. He has given us the written word. Even more He sent the Holy Spirit to help us. John 15:26 says that He will testify of Jesus. John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

7The evidence that God created man with a free will to choose to obey or to rebel against Him is seen in the fact that God placed before Adam and Eve the requirement that they chose not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is also seen in action when Adam and Eve choose to rebel against the Lord and eat the forbidden fruit, then when they hide from God and, again, when Adam tries to place the blame on Eve and Eve tries to place the blame on the Serpent.

8Having lost our ability to chose to love God we became slaves to sin. Being slaves to sin does not mean we are forced to sin. We still do this by choice. We are not slaves, as the slaves in the slave trade. We are not forced to sin. No longer knowing how, or no longer being able to choose to love God, we choose what we know, sin.

9maæaseh (mah-as-eh’)

10The sin and rebellion of those driven out of the land of Caanan are outlined in Exodus 23 and Deuteronomy 7.

11It was a certainty even in the psalmist’s day for the promise was that He, the Promised One, would certainly defeat the evil one.

12In Matthew 1:18-20 we find Joseph engaged (betrothed) to Mary. When Mary conceives a child by someone other than Joseph, he assumes that she has been unfaithful to him and plans to put her away (to divorce her). If they were only engaged, not yer married, why would he have to divorce her. They were not “just engaged” as we think of engagement. In their day engagement was binding and fully expected to result in marriage.

13Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 4

14Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Heb 4:13) This could be translated, neither is there any created thing (or anything created) that is not made known in His sight.

151Peter 2:21-25

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: {for us: some read, for you}

22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: {himself: or, his cause}

24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. {on: or, to}

25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

John 10:30 I and my Father are one.

by Greg Kenyon. September 10, 2011


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