Tuesday, February 06, 2024

2024.02.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 111:1–5

Read Psalm 111:1–5

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Psalm 111:1a command? With what does verse 1b command them to do this? In what context (verse 1c)? What are great (Psalm 111:2a)? Who do what to these works (verse 2b)? What two things do they learn about this work (Psalm 111:3a)? In what attribute does verse 3b say they do these works? How long does it endure? Why does He make His wonderful works (Psalm 111:4a)? What do those who study them learn about YHWH in verse 4b? What has He given to whom as a wonderful work (Psalm 111:5a)? What will HE remember, for how long (verse 5b)? 

Why does God do wonderful works? Psalm 111:1–5 prepares us for the opening portion of public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God does wonderful works so that those who fear Him may feast upon delighting in His works. 

In the Hebrew, this is an acrostic Psalm, with sections beginning with successive Hebrew letters. It is an A to Z (or aleph to tav) of praise. In these first five verses, we learn that His people’s praise for God’s work ought to be:

Sincere, wholehearted praisePsalm 111:1a–b. This reminds us of Psalm 103:1. Especially in the context of the congregation, we are to give the whole of our thinking, feeling, and willing unto God. This isn’t just refusing to focus on other things. It means to give ourselves eagerly and unreservedly to the Lord in those actions of worship that He has commanded.

Public, holy, congregational praisePsalm 111:1c. Puritan David Clarkson once wrote a helpful paper called “Public Worship to Be Preferred over Private” on Psalm 87:2. Here, and repeatedly throughout the Psalter, we see saints eager to bring their praise into the assembly. God is so glorious, and His works for them have been so gracious, that they desire for Him to get more than merely their own praise. The joy set before Christ at the cross (cf. Psalm 22:1–21; Hebrews 12:2) is especially the worship of God “in the midst of the assembly” (cf. Psalm 22:22; Hebrews 2:12, Hebrews 12:22–24). 

Thinking praisePsalm 111:2. The word translated “studied” has the sense of “inquired after” and “examined.” Biblical worshipers eagerly exercise their minds upon God and His works. Their delight in Him translates into a delight in the great things that He does.

Awed praisePsalm 111:3a. The words in the first line of verse 3 are almost synonymous, communicating majesty and splendor. God’s forever-enduring righteousness is of a quality not just to be trusted in and conformed to but to be amazed at and to wonder at. As we are struck by Who He is, we ought to be awe-struck. 

Personal praisePsalm 111:3b, Psalm 111:4b, etc. By “personal” praise, we mean not that we are each, personally, to praise God. That is true. Rather, we are noting the connection between praise the works of God (Psalm 111:3a, Psalm 111:4a) and the character of God (Psalm 111:3b, Psalm 111:4b). We are not only to admire divine actions but to adore the divine Being.

Remembering praisePsalm 111:4a. The “study” in Psalm 111:2 gives way to “remembering” in Psalm 111:4. Biblical “remembering” is more than just having the ability to recall data. It is to act in light of something or someone. When we “remember” His works, we live in awareness of His works and response to His works. 

Resting praisePsalm 111:4b. It is when we live in remembering response (verse 4a) to Yahweh’s graciousness and compassion (verse 4b) that we realize that true worship leads to true resting. When God’s glory and righteousness are magnified to our minds and hearts, and God’s grace and compassion are magnified to our minds and hearts, we find the most solid ground upon which our entire soul can rest: the Lord Himself.

Nourishing praisePsalm 111:5a. It is possible that the food (prey/nourishment) in verse 5 is physical. God does, indeed, provide for the earthly needs of all of His creatures. And those who fear Him receive even their daily bread from the same hand and the same love that has given them Christ. But it is likely that meditation upon His own character is, here, the nourishment for the believer’s soul. 

Sure praisePsalm 111:5b. In public worship, it is not only worshipers who are remembering. “Mindful” in verse 5b is the same verb. When God gathers His people to Himself in the congregation, He assembles a people whom He has saved for Himself and bound to Himself in covenant. He brings them near in order to fulfill His own purposes and promises to them. When we gather, we ought to be strengthened in faith, knowing that our God continues to “remember” His covenant. He continues to act upon His eternal commitment, in which He has taken us to be His own covenant people and given Himself to be our own covenant God!

For each of the aspects above? What is one, specific way that you hope (by God’s grace) to improve your practice in the public worship of God in the congregation on the Lord’s Day?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You with our whole heart in the assembly of those whom You have justified. All of Your works are great, and none more than the work of redeeming us in Christ! Truly, it is our delight to examine Your majestic and splendid works and find that You are righteous. Make us to remember Your wonderful works, resting upon Your grace and compassion. Indeed, nourish us upon Christ Himself, and make us to worship and to live as those Who are bound to You in covenant, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP111A “O Praise the LORD” or TPH111A “Praise to the LORD! I Will Extol Him” 

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