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Psalm 111

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord Praised for His Goodness
No MT Intro
Praise to God for His Faithfulness and Justice Hymn of Praise to the Lord for His Great Deeds In Praise of the Lord In Praise of Yahweh's Deeds
111:1-6 111:1 111:1-10 111:1a 111:1a
      111:1b-3 111:1b-2
  111:2-6      
        111:3-4
      111:4-6  
        111:5-6
111:7-10 111:7-9   111:7-10 111:7-8
        111:9-10
  111:10      

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Psalms 111 and 112 are acrostic, wisdom psalms. Each line of poetry begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The acrostic starts at Ps. 111:1b.

 

B. These two Psalms are also linked by the phrase, "His righteousness endures forever," which occurs in the Psalter only in Ps. 111:3 and Ps. 112:3,9.

 

C. Psalm 111 praises YHWH, while Psalm 112 praises the faithful followers of YHWH.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 111:1-6
 1Praise the Lord!
 I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart,

In the company of the upright and in the assembly.

2Great are the works of the Lord;
 They are studied by all who delight in them.
 3Splendid and majestic is His work,
 And His righteousness endures forever.
 4He has made His wonders to be remembered;
 The Lord is gracious and compassionate.
 5He has given food to those who fear Him;
 He will remember His covenant forever.
 6He has made known to His people the power of His works,
 In giving them the heritage of the nations.

111:1 "Praise the Lord" This is the translation of the Hebrew, "hallelujah." It is made up of the verb "praise" (BDB 237 II, KB 248, Piel imperative) and "Yah" (BDB 219). It denotes a worship setting and is used liturgically at the beginning or ending of many Psalms (i.e., Ps. 102:18; 104:35; 105:45; 106:1,48; 111:1; 112:1; 113:1,9; 115:17,18; 116:19 and twenty-one more times).

The liturgical aspect is confirmed by Ps. 111:1c.

This first line is not part of the acrostic but serves as a title to this Psalm.

▣ "Lord" This is the covenant name for Israel's God. See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY.

▣ "I will give thanks to the Lord" Notice the parallel with line 1, different form but same concept.

1. hallelujah - BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperative

2. give thanks - BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

 

▣ "with all my heart" This is a Hebrew idiom of complete dedication (cf. Ps. 9:1; 86:12; 138:1). For "heart" see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART.

▣ "In the company of the upright and in the assembly" This phrase could refer to

1. one group of worshipers at the temple

2. two groups (cf. Ps. 107:32)

a. a group of leaders (cf. Exod. 3:16)

b. the large worshiping group

 

111:2-6 Notice the parallel between

1. great are the works of the Lord, Ps. 111:2a

2. splendid and majestic is His work, Ps. 111:3a (cf. Ps. 96:6; 104:1)

3. his wonders to be remembered, Ps. 111:4a

4. He has made known to His people the power of His works, Ps. 111:6a

See Special Topic: Wonderful Things to see the different ways that YHWH has revealed Himself through His acts and words.

111:2b As a teacher/preacher, the phrase speaks so strongly to me "God's revelations are available to all but must be studied/pondered and applied" (cf. Ps. 111:10b; Ezra 7:10)! Do you delight in them, live them, teach them?

111:3b "His righteousness endures forever" This phrase is repeated in Ps. 112:3,9, and no where else in these exact words. This implies that Psalms 111 and 112 were written by the same person.

For the recurrent concept of YHWH's righteousness see the SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS.

The participle "endures" (BDB 763, KB 840) is also used of God's revelation in Ps. 19:9. Jesus addresses the OT's inspiration and eternality in Matt. 5:17-19!

111:4b One of the crucial questions after belief in God is, what is He like? What is His nature? This phrase reflects the OT characterization of the God of Israel (cf. Exod. 34:6-7; Num. 14:18; Deut. 4:31; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 145:8). See Special Topic: Characteristics of Israel's God.

111:5-6 These verses describe some of the things God has done.

1. gives food to those who fear/awe Him (i.e., Exodus and Numbers; Matt. 6:11,31-33)

2. remembers His covenant forever (i.e., this refers to His promises to the Patriarchs, cf. Genesis 12; 15; 18; 22; Ps. 105:8; see SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT)

3. made Himself known to His people (cf. Ps. 19:7-12)

4. gives His people the nations for an inheritance

a. in a Messianic sense in Ps. 2:8; 67:7

b. in a conquest of Canaan sense in Gen. 15:12-21

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 111:7-10
 7The works of His hands are truth and justice;
 All His precepts are sure.
 8They are upheld forever and ever;
 They are performed in truth and uprightness.
 9He has sent redemption to His people;
 He has ordained His covenant forever;
 Holy and awesome is His name.
 10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
 A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
 His praise endures forever.

111:7-10 This strophe affirms the trustworthiness of God and His revelation/promises. It foreshadows Psalm 119 and reflects Psalm 19.

Notice the ways God's revelations are described.

1. truth and justice (cf. Ps. 19:9)

2. sure (cf. Ps. 19:7; 93:5)

3. upheld forever and ever (cf. Ps. 19:9)

4. performed in truth and uprightness

Notice the ways God Himself is described.

1. He sent redemption to His people

2. He ordained His covenant forever

3. He is holy and awesome

Notice the different words used to describe His revelations.

1. precepts - BDB 824 (cf. Ps. 19:8)

2. commanded - BDB 845 (cf. Ps. 19:8; using the noun, BDB 846)

3. fear - BDB 432 (cf. Ps. 19:9)

See Special Topic: Terms Used For God's Revelation.

111:7 "His hands" See Special Topic: God Described As Human (anthropomorphism).

▣ "truth" This feminine noun (BDB 54) occurs in Ps. 111:7 and 8. It is literally "faithfulness." The same Hebrew root (BDB 54) forms the word "sure" (BDB 52, Niphal participle) in Ps. 111:7 (cf. Ps. 19:7). See Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith and Faithfulness in the OT.

111:8 "forever and ever" This Hebrew idiom of permanence is formed by

1. forever - BDB 723 I (cf. Ps. 111:3,8; 112:3,9)

2. and ever - BDB 761 (cf. Ps. 111:9; 19:9; see Special Topic: Forever ['olam])

 

111:9 "redemption" See Special Topic: Ransom/Redeem

▣ "holy" "Holy" (BDB 872) and "awesome" (BDB 431) appear together in Ps. 99:3. See SPECIAL TOPIC: HOLY.

▣ "awesome" This is the common Hebrew verb "to fear" (BDB 431, KB 432, Niphal participle). It is used

1. of YHWH Himself - Deut. 7:21; 10:17,21; Neh. 1:5; 4:14; 9:32; Ps. 47:2; 68:35; 76:7; Dan. 9:4

2. of His acts - Ps. 65:5; 66:3,5; 106:22; 145:6

3. of the appropriate response of His people - Deut. 4:10; 5:5; 6:2,13,24; 10:12,20; 13:11; 14:23; 17:13,19; 19:20; 21:21; 25:18; 28:58; 31:12; Jos. 4:24

4. of the Gentiles - Deut. 28:10; Jos. 4:24; 9:24; Ps. 67:7

 

111:10a This is the first principle and the central theme of Proverbs (cf. Pro. 1:7; 9:10), also note online at Eccl. 12:13.

111:10b Notice that knowing God's revelation demands obeying it/them! Biblical faith is not only a theological creed to be affirmed but a lifestyle (cf. Matt. 7:13-27; Eph. 2:8-9,10).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What "company" is being addressed in Ps. 111:1c?

2. Does the Psalm tell us exactly which "works of the Lord" are being extolled?

3. How is Ps. 111:4b related to Exod. 34:6-7?