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PSALM 111

(A verse-by-verse commentary)

SOME BELIEVE THIS GREAT PSALM IS AN EXPRESSION OF WORSHIP UNTO THE LORD!

IT CERTAINLY EXALTS HIS DEAR NAME!

LET'S STUDY IT VERSE-BY-VERSE!

THIS WE DO KNOW. REAL BIBLE WORSHIP IS GOD-ENTERED, NOT MAN-CENTERED!

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

 

"Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. 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. He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant. 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."       Psalm 111

 

 

LESSON 1, VERSE 1:

When Israel worshipped Almighty God, really worshipped in sincerity and holiness and love, part of their glorious experience involved declaration! One might even say it involved proclamation!

It was said "out loud" how great God really is, said distinctly and joyfully and publicly!

Worship in Bible days, by its very definition, was God-centered!

Not man-centered as it too often is now!

I believe that among the Psalms, many so exalt the Lord! But one specifically, Psalm 111, will be our focus for a few days.

It opens with these words: "Praise ye the Lord." In Hebrew that is spelled with two words: "hallel" and God's Name, "Yah," a shortened form of Jehovah. It is sometimes just amazing how much English has gleaned from the languages of Scripture, Hebrew and Greek. Here's an example. When Hallel and Yah are combined, as when reading rapidly, here's the sound you hear: "Hallel Yah!' When anglicized, here's the result: "Hallelujah!" It's also spelled "Halleluiah" in some dictionaries.

"Hallel" is a root verb meaning something like this: "to be clear, to shine, hence, to boast" in Someone! Gradually the linguistic experts tell us that the word also came to mean: "to celebrate!"

And "Yah," Jehovah when full, incorporates the Hebrew verb "to be." Our great God, "Yah," is the One Who IS!  Yesterday, today and tomorrow, He is! Eternally He is!

Isn't is delightful that the Holy Spirit chose to use the shortened Form of Jehovah here? Thus He, providentially so, gives us an English lesson as well as a Hebrew one! Hallelujah!

Also, quickly, the verb "hallel" here is an imperative! Israel specifically and now we Believers generally are being required to praise the Lord! It is a Bible mandate! We have no choice! The verb also is in the Piel stem, teaching us to praise the Lord energetically, diligently!

Now Psalm 111 continues, "Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation." That's all of verse one.

No sooner has God commanded ... and Israel obeyed! At least the Psalmist did! He is anonymous here, no name being given.

"Praise ye the Lord," issues God!

"I will ... with my whole heart," enjoins the worshipper!

That's quick response, heart-felt too!

But a different verb is used here for "praise!" No longer using "hallel," the Spirit of God involves "yadah!" This word, drawn from the little noun "yad," one's "hand," also means "to thank" or "to praise" in Hebrew. Literally it means "to use one's hand!" Here we have the foundation for the age old Christian practice of lifting one's hand toward Heaven as he or she worships!

But now, and again this is a change, not "Yah" but "Yehovah" is the Word for Lord! The full Name! Still It is based upon "hayah," meaning "to be, to exist, or maybe even to breathe!" Always living! Never dying! Eternal! "Self existent" the old timers used to say!

The word "whole" is "kol" in the Text and means "every bit" or "all" of something. It is built upon the word "kalal," that is, "to complete."

Heart is "lebab," meaning, as is suggested by its parent "labab," to be "enclosed!" So "lebab" is the heart as man's most interior organ! Deep down inside. But Biblically it is also the seat of one's thoughts and emotions! "For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!" Proverbs 23:7

One's "whole heart" worshipping God implies "integrity!" This little word, now English, is built upon a Latin foundation. It means "untouched" or "undivided!"

The "assembly," in Hebrew "sod," means a company of people, often those who are quite close to each other! In deliberation one with another! The word in the King James Bible is also translated as "secret" 9 times and even as "counsel" 6 times! It's even "inward" once! And it's only used a total of 21 times in the Bible.

"Upright" is "yashar" and means straight! Correct or right in other words! It also can imply being pleasant! In that case one would be right in his position ... and his disposition as well!

Then the noun "congregation" is used. "Edah" means a company of people, perhaps even a large one! I say that because the word is made to be both "multitude" and "swarm" in Scripture. It has developed from "ed," an Old Testament word meaning "witness!"

This Psalmist is going to Church!

To worship the Lord!

He's determined!

Amen!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 2:

When a man or woman worships, Biblically I mean, the Lord God Almighty is always exalted!

A classic example of this is found in Psalm 111, a relatively short Passage with only 10 verses.

For example, verse 2 begins a conversation about God's "works."

"The works of the Lord are great. sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." Psalm 111:2

That opening noun, "works," is the Hebrew word "maaseh." It is derived from a root verb, "asah," which means "to do or to make." Probably the most general word in the Old Testament for "work," many sorts of endeavor are suggested. Anything from artwork to plowing a field in the Spring! Grammatically speaking, "maaseh" can involved either good deeds, or bad. The context in which it occurs often supplies the key to that determination. Genesis 46:33 has our word as "occupation." Pharaoh asked Joseph's Brethren, "What is your occupation?" When applied to the Lord, "maaseh," His occupation, can include redemption as well as creation!

The adjective "great" means "large" in magnitude and extent! As one might expect, it's found 529 times in the Bible too, Old Testament alone. To call God's works "great" is certainly accurate, yet it understates the case! God is a thousand times great, a million even! And that's exactly how Scripture classifies Him! He is not just Holy ... but "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty!" Revelation 4:8

God is due not only glory and honour, but "blessing and wisdom and thanksgiving and power and might" as well! See Revelation 7:12.

Next, many people "have pleasure" in God and His works! How many we are not told here. We shall learn things like that in Heaven I suspect. To "have pleasure" translates "chephetzs," meaning delight or desire! Its root verb carries the idea of "bending" toward the desired Object! The beautiful things about "chephetzs" is that not only are we to "have pleasure" in God ... He has pleasure in us too! Psalm 18:19 concludes by saying of God, "He delighted in me."

And it certainly is interesting and enjoyable to study the acts of God! His greatest Work of all is that of saving sinners. At least that's the Deed that cost Him the most, the life Blood of His only begotten Son! Men and women have been "taking pleasure" in God's Plan of Redemption" for thousands of years now! And His creative works are astounding also! Watch a flock of Canadian geese fly overhead sometime, migrating hundreds of miles!

What a life-long pursuit that would be! Learning of God's wonderful works! A man or woman who is saved and has followed a career in science, an astronomer or a biologist or a zoologist, acknowledging God as Creator, can have a pleasurable occupation indeed! Observing God's ways systematically!

So can the preacher or the theologian enjoy God, investing years of his time studying the precious Word of God! Therein the Lord's works are manifest as well! And, perhaps because of the Holy Spirit's guiding Presence, Bible Study is exhilarating!

In fact, our Text Verse today suggests that those who study God's works will eventually exhaust their lists ... and come back "seeking" more!

"The works of the Lord are great. sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." Psalm 111:2

"Sought out" is "darash" in Hebrew. Originally it means "to tread" a pathway! To go there "frequently" is implied too. When intensified, "sought out" adds an earnest hunger to the mix, especially in the area of worship!

Interestingly, "darash" here is expressed as a passive participle! It's an auxiliary verb, a supporting one, having "pleasure" in God being the main emphasis! And its "passive" nature tells us that an influence other than the person himself initiated that interest and quest for God!

This "seeking out" is a continuous thing too!

This single verse alone tells much about our God! And exalts Him highly!

He, when things are right, is the Sole Interest of mankind!

Think of the coming Millennium. Or the eternal state in Heaven itself, actually the New Jerusalem and the new earth, is not God going to be the supreme Center of everything then?

And properly so!

"That in all things He might have the preeminence."  Colossians 1:18

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 3:

Here's the kind of statement a man or woman would make during worship. Of course the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the Subject. "His work is honourable and glorious: and His Righteousness endureth for ever." Psalm 111:3

God's actions, His "work," and His very essence, His unique "righteousness," are being magnified!

There's not a "hint" in the whole verse about the worshipper! He remains in the background! It's all about the Lord ... not only in this single verse, but in the whole Psalm!

This particular noun for "work" is rare in Scripture. "Poal" is only used 38 times in the whole Bible! Since the Holy Spirit used a different word for God's "works" in verse 2, that being "maaseh," surely "poal" has a different shade of meaning! After all, every word in Scripture is carefully chosen and crafted of God. That's called "inspiration!"

I would say that "maaseh" is the more general word, "one's deeds or acts" being its usual definition, while "poal" is more specific. Numerically "maaseh" is used 235 times in Scripture.

"Poal" is defined as follows: "things done or made systematically and habitually!" In other words, things "practiced" by a subject!

Whatever this "work" represents, it is "perfect" according to Deuteronomy 32:4. "He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He."

In Job 7:2 "poal" is an activity that produces reward! Jeremiah 33:13 carries this same idea too.

Also in Job 36:24 Elihu reminds us of our duty to "exalt God's work," using "poel" again.

Once, in Isaiah 1:31 "poel" is translated as "maker!"

Just one more example, too good to omit, "Balaam exclaims in Numbers 23:23 "What hath God wrought!" Here "poel" is outstanding and praiseworthy for sure!

Lest I leave the idea that our noun is used only in reference to God, both Psalm 104:23 and Proverbs 20:11 use "poel" for human activity as well, man's "work" and a child's "doings."

I am however amazed at how many times the word appears in the singular number! Quite often something specific is being indicated! It is so here in our verse today.

But, what is this "work" of God?

First, let's describe it.

"His work is honourable and glorious: and His Righteousness endureth for ever." Psalm 111:3

"Honourable" translates "hod" and means "filled with grandeur, imposing in form and appearance!" In the King James Text both "beautiful" and "majestic" are synonyms. This word is only used 24 times in the Bible, placing it in the "rare" category also!

"Glorious" is "hadar." It is built upon a verbal root meaning "to swell," indicating God's loftiness and greatness. Every time I think about God, viewing Him through the eyes of faith, He gets bigger and bigger and bigger!

The "Righteousness" of God, "tzsedaqah," has a special kind of courtroom sense, a forensic flavor, "correct" or "right" in the eyes of the Law! Morally straight! Involving nothing wrong!

To "endure" is "to stand or remain or abide" somewhere! "Amad" here is a Qal participle. This great Righteousness stays forever! It is so established!

"For ever" is "ad," just that in Hebrew! It's from "adah," to continue, to advance, to pass on perpetually! It's "everlasting" twice in the Bible.

But again I ask, what "Work" is here being depicted?

My answer anyway: SALVATION!

God's greatest work!

Yet a work crafted in His Righteousness, not merely His Love!

God's physical creation is certainly marvelous!

His spiritual "new creation" is even more so!

Amen!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 4:

In a Psalm that is totally God-centered, these words are carefully recorded: "He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion." Psalm 111:4

In the Psalm's first four verses, we have encountered three different words for His great "work" or "works." They are "maaseh" then "poal" then "pala!" God's deeds, both creative and redemptive, are being exalted!

The verb "hath made" translates the common Hebrew word "asah." To fashion or accomplish or produce, all these are common meanings. 

Then "wonderful works," which represents one Hebrew noun, "pala," means marvelous or surpassing or extraordinary deeds! Both the creation of earth and mankind are examples of such miraculous activity. The root idea behind "pala" may be that of "separating and distinguishing" one job from another!

God also wishes His acts "to be remembered." Now "zeker" means "to mark" something so it will be made special! It suggests an item becoming a momento! Once, in Hosea 14:7, "zeker" is translated "scent," as in the fragrance of grape juice or wine.

God's great deeds can be used as avenues of worship!

Then our Verse immediately shifts from what God has done ... to what God is, His essence! This last noun hails from a Latin verb, "esse," meaning "to be." God's Essence is Who God really IS!

Watch the change of tone. "He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion."

The Name for God, LORD, is again Jehovah. I say again because this precise Name is used 6,519 times in the Bible!

"Gracious" is "channun." Precisely, it is only used 13 times in Scripture! Literally it means "to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior!" That's exactly what God did through Jesus from the Incarnation to the Crucifixion!

Then "full of compassion" translates "rachum." Again used 13 times in the Bible, "rachum" is expressed as "merciful" 8 times and then "compassion" 5 more times. It literally means "to fondle" or "to love," compassion in that tender and kind sense!

Is anyone studying with me today?

Are you grateful for God's stooping down to your level one day? Saving your lost soul from Hell! If so, thank Him right now! You will be worshipping as you do!

Are you still overwhelmed with God's caressing love for you? Well, just tell Him, right now I mean, that you love Him too!

Then, keeping with our verse's outline, remember one of the Lord's great works today! That latest answer to prayer! That loved one He saved!

Whatever!

He is worthy!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 5:

If you tell the average person today that the Lord "feeds" you, provides your "daily bread," he or she will respond with raised eyebrows!

Doubt will flood his heart!

Yet the Bible clearly says of our God: "He hath given meat unto them that fear Him." Psalm 111:5

But, who are those that "fear" Him?

The verb "yare" initially and literally means "to dread" or "to be affrighted." In other words, to be scared! However, particularly in a moral sense, the verb has adopted a sense of "respectful fear," or even "reverence." I am trying to say that "yare" is not always abject debilitating terror!

To fear the Lord is to always be mindful of Him! To consider Him carefully! And to live accordingly! Proverbs 6:16 teaches us ... "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil." In Old Testament terminology, the man or woman who really "fears" the Lord is "saved" by the Grace of God!

Even in early New Testament days, Paul would speak of certain people, "God-fearers" they were called back then, who were likely even Gentiles and attached themselves to the synagogue in a loose way, being mere "hearers" at first. They were on the verge of trusting Christ Jesus as their Saviour! Listen to Paul in Acts 13:16. "The Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, AND YE THAT FEAR GOD, give audience." See the two groups?

If you're "saved," you indeed now "fear the Lord!" In fact, you've passed through all three stages of such "fear!" When first "convicted" of your sins, you were scared to death of Hell and Judgment and offending Almighty God! Then, having been washed in the Blood of the Lamb, you revered and adored and worshipped Jesus and the Father! But now, having walked with God for years, you love Him more than ever! Sheer worship would be the appropriate term! See them? "Fear of the Lord:" at first, fright ... then reverence ... finally, adoration!

Now to this group especially, God "gives" meat! This verb, "nathan," means "to grant or bestow or deliver or send or recompense." Here it appears as a simple active voice action word. The "time" sense of "nathan" here is "perfect," meaning that the action, at least in God's Eyes, is complete! God has already given us all we need, including bread!

We may not realize it yet, but provision has been made!

What specifically has God given?

"Meat!"

This noun is spelled "tereph" and is derived from the verb "taraph" meaning "to pull to pieces, to pluck off, to tear!" "Tereph" represents food that is a morsel or a serving of a larger supply! For that reason in the King James Bible "tereph" is "prey" in 18 of its 23 appearances. It is "spoil" once and "meat" 3 more times also. The terminology here makes one wonder if the Lord is not only promising our daily food supply, but also victory in battle! "Prey" or "spoil" in that sense!

Now if verse five ended right there, it would be great! But there's even more.

Watch! "He hath given meat unto them that fear Him: He will ever be mindful of His Covenant." Psalm 111:5

As if the "meat" were not enough, God is remembered for even more!

His "covenant" is dear! "Beriyth" basically means "to cut" and pictures the sacrifice that is made, blood sacrifice, when an agreement, a contract, a vow, a life-long commitment is struck! God made several "covenants" with Israel in the Old Testament. And in the New Testament, our very Salvation is a covenant with the Almighty! Through the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrificial Death on Calvary!

This "covenant," indicating now our very salvation ... including forgiveness, redemption, justification, sanctification and glorification ... is vitally important to God!

He just will not forget it!

When we are told that God "will be mindful" of His Covenant with us, "zakar" is used. Picturesquely it means "to mark" something so that it will be recognized! If you're saved, God has "marked" you! Perhaps with a "seal!" You are singled out as His! In the King James Bible, "zakar" is 21 times translated as "mentioned" also! God not only remembers us, He talks about us often! Furthermore, "to record" as a verb and a "recorder" as a noun are associated with "zakar" nearly a dozen times!

What peace these thoughts bring!

Then just one more word, "ever!" Short on letters but long on meaning, "olam" means "the vanishing point." It's parent word, "alam," means concealed from sight. This pictures something so far into the distant past or future that it cannot even be seen! In other words, it is everlasting! Eternal!

Really, the promise that God is ever mindful of His Salvation is perhaps even more thrilling than the glorious fact that He will never forget us! God, in Isaiah 49:15 for example, promises "Yet will I not forget thee."

And not only does God remember His Covenant with us ... He chooses that concerning our sins, He will remember them no more! "And their sins and iniquities wilI remember no more." See both Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17.

Praise the Lord!

What a verse, temporal care ... and eternal life!

"He hath given meat unto them that fear Him: He will ever be mindful of His Covenant." Psalm 111:5

Amen!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 6:

Each verse in Psalm 111 is a "gem!" It sparkles like a diamond! As it is admired from every possible angle, new hues and intensities of light burst forth!

And Verse 6 is no exception!

So far every single verse is literally "layered" with meaning!

Speaking of God, as Psalm 111 has done in its entirety, today we learn: "He hath showed His people the power of His works, that He may give them the heritage of the heathen." Again, Psalm 111:6 has been quoted.

The verb "showed" is "nagad" in Hebrew and literally means "to front!" That is, "to expose" some vital truth! In the King James Bible "nagad" is translated several different ways. It's "tell" 222 times and "declare" 22 times and "utter" 5 times and "report" twice. But also it can, and does, mean "show forth" 3 times and even "expound" 2 times. God is the Great Expositor!

This particular noun for "people," in Hebrew "am," means a group with whom One is associated. Kinsmen! Fellow country-men! A congregated unit! A tribe! This is opposed to other words that lack that closeness. Having this definition is not essential to understand this clause, however, because the possessive pronoun "His" is used! God is revealing something to HIS people, not to the world at large!

What?

"Power!"

"Koach" is derived from a root verb that means "to be firm!" It is "force," here in a good sense, being used of God. In our Bible it is used as "strength, power, might, force, and ability." This word is placed first in the verse in the Hebrew Bible. That means the Holy Spirit means it to be emphasized! A power verse indeed!

"Works" reverts to "maaseh" again. So far the Psalmist has used about every noun available to list all God has done, His mighty deeds! Often however "maaseh" suggests something done in this sense, manufactured! It "hints" at deeds so lovely they would be considered artwork! This reminds me of a key New Testament verb for "doing" that yields our English word "poem!" That's "poieo."

God has meant His works to be seen and understood, at least by His Own people! That's one reason why the devil so longs to "hide" the beauty of God's creation, obscuring it with falsehoods like evolution and blind chance! And he, Satan, hates the wisdom of God's great plan of salvation too, hiding it by false doctrines of every kind!

But the rest of the verse is astounding!

Why does God reveal such great power?

"That He may give them (His people) the heritage of the heathen."

The verb "give" is standard. "Nathan," found over 2000 times in Scripture, means "to deliver, to grant, to yield, to bestow," and even "to recompense" 11 times! It is presented here as an infinitive, revealing durative action. God just keeps on giving and giving!

The "heathen" are the peoples of earth other than Israelites! Gentiles! "Goy" is translated "nations" 374 times in the Word and "Gentiles" 30 more times and "heathen" 143 times! A crowd of often extremely wicked people!

And "heritage" means "property or possession or inheritance!" God maintains the power to give His saints the very portion he has allotted to the lost ... and will do so some day!

I trust I'm not jumping too far ahead here, but in the coming Millennial Age, when Jesus literally rules on this earth, it appears that the Lord will entrust to each Believer some portion of earth to govern! Some will be granted leadership over one city, others two cities, some even five or ten! Read Jesus' parable beginning in Luke 19:11. That's being given the heritage of the heathen for sure!

I think of this sometimes. There is coming a day when every cable network will broadcast only the Truth about Jesus! Every newspaper will print the Truth too! Every commentator will exalt the Lord! Jesus is coming to earth again, praise the Lord! The knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth "as the waters cover the sea!" So say both Isaiah and Habakkuk!

When that happens, God's great Power will have accomplished it!

Even the general spirit of Scripture suggests such a future! The Book of Proverbs is loaded with this thought! Proverbs 10:3 promises that some day the Lord will "cast away" the substance of the wicked! They will not "hold on" to their precious possessions forever!

"The expectation of the wicked shall perish," prophesies Proverbs 10:28. While Proverbs 11:8 says that "The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead!"

"The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand." Proverbs 12:7

Look at this one! "The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want." Proverbs 13:25

You get the picture.

Wickedness will not prevail in this battle of the ages!

God's people, through their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, are more than conquerors!

Maybe also this little verse is implying to us that the more we know God's Power ... the more we will be encouraged regarding the ultimate fall of unrighteousness!

Again, "He hath showed His people the power of His works, that He may give them the heritage of the heathen."

God literally did this with Israel!

They left Egypt with the wealth of those who had mistreated them for centuries ... and also entered the Land of the Canaanites, inheriting every square mile of it for eternity! That's what all this Middle East squabbling is about right now!

We shall indeed learn who owns the "heritage of the heathen," in "the day of God's power!" See Psalm 110:3 for that term!

And lastly, I assure you I'm ending today's Lesson now, Jesus may have had this verse in mind when He quoted Psalm 2: 8. There the Father is speaking to the Son and promises ... "Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." Jesus has "inherited" millions of Gentiles by saving their lost souls via His Blood shed on Calvary's Cross! Multitudes of others will be conquered and judged by the coming King of Kings! Either way, our Lord is Victor!

He shall some day rule over every square inch of this earth! Every knee will have bowed to Him and each tongue will have confessed His Lordship and Power!

After all, as we've just seen, God the Father promised!

The God Who can make ... and fulfill ... such a Promise is indeed Almighty!

Amen!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSE 7:

The Bible often blends two beautiful aspects of God's Essence, His works and His Word!

For example, Psalm 19 consists of two parts. The works of God, His lovely creation, occupy verses 1-6. While the Word of God, His perfect revelation, absorb verses 7-14. A perfect Psalm!

Now our verse for today does this as well. "The works of His hands are verity and judgment; all His commandments are sure." Psalm 111:7

God's works and God's words! The ideal blend of what God does and what God is!

For the third time in this Psalm the Hebrew noun "maaseh" is used. Verses 2 and 6 and now 7 employ it. One's deeds are in view here. And God's deeds are "great" in verse 2 and "powerful" in verse 6 and "faithful" in verse 7.

I just said "faithful" because that's what the Hebrew word for "verity" means. "Emeth" is their standard word for "truth," but is accurately translated "faithful" or "faithfully" or "assuredly" in Scripture also. The first time "emeth" occurs in the Bible, Genesis 24:27, it is associated with mercy! Here it is linked with judgment! Our great God is perfectly balanced! Emeth's root word is "aman" and means "to build up" or "to support!" See the idea of stability in that?

Let's address the faithfulness of God's works! The Sun and Moon traverse their appointed paths in amazingly chronological patterns! You can set your watch by the sun's daily rising!

And the Seasons?

And even the comets?

Come to think of it, man's heartbeat is quite faithful too! Man and woman, the very crown of God's creation!

The word "judgment" as here applied to God's works is interesting. "Mishphat" hails from a verb that means "to pronounce sentence" on someone in a forensic sense. This is courtroom talk!

We are being told that there is enough truth about God revealed in His creation alone ... to hold man accountable for at least some knowledge of the Lord's existence!

Now I did not say that creation could get a man saved! That takes the Blood of Jesus shed on the Cross of Calvary! But creation can leave a man "without excuse" when it comes to God's very being! See Romans 1:20.

Here's the "shift" now! From God's "works" to God's "commandments," His words! I will distinguish the verse's two halves typographically.

"The works of His hands are verity and judgment; all His commandments are sure." Psalm 111:7

For "commandments" the Holy Spirit has used "piqqudiym," which means statutes or precepts. Growing out of "paqad," our word suggests a "visitation" from God! God's Word is as effective as the Lord Himself being here right now! This is implicit in the vocabulary alone!

To be conveying such a fundamental theme, God's Word, "piqqudiym" or one of its cognates appears only two dozen times in Scripture, every one of them being in the Psalms!

The apparent adjective "sure" translates a familiar participle, "aman" as a verbal unit. It means things like "confirmed!" See Acts 16:19-20 where God longs to confirm His Word as it is preached! Using only the King James Bible's renderings of "aman," we notice that God's Word is "believed, assured, established, trusted and steadfast!"

God is lovely!

In what He does ... and what He says!

Worship Him today!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, VERSE 8:

It seems that Psalm 111 clearly is a hymn of praise! The Lord is being worshiped by His people!

But when we reach verse 7, the "commandments" of the Lord are mentioned. They are said to be "sure."

Remember please that the Hebrew word for "commandments" is "piqqud" and only appears in Scripture two dozen times! It's "root" meaning is determined by "paqad," its parent, and that means "to visit" someone!

Here God is described as "visiting" us when we read His Word! Or hear it preached! Or study it!

Furthermore, "sure" means "firm or steadfast!" It's parent word means "to build up" or "to support!" It's kin to the Hebrew word for "truth!" Virtually it has become our English word "amen!"

But today our assignment is to study verse 8 of this great Psalm, the 111th. "They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness." I can only presume that the pronoun "they" has as its antecedent the nearest possible candidate, the noun "commandments" from the previous verse. Contextually it looks like this: "All his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness." Psalm 111:7-8

Maybe we are being taught in this "worship" Psalm that one cannot exalt and adore and revere God properly ... without including His precious Word in the process!

This harmoniously links the worship due God and the Word of God hand in hand! What a beautiful bond!

The verb "stand fast" in verse 8 is spelled "samak" and means "to lean upon, to prop, to bear up or to establish." Except here "samak" is in the passive voice. That means the Word of God can be leaned upon! It can be used as an absolutely stable prop! It can hold me up and keep me from falling! It can establish me too!

In its first Bible occurrence, Genesis 27:37 it is translated "sustained" in the King James Version ... as food sustains a man's life!

How long can God's Commandments do this, stand fast?

"For ever and ever," affirms the Psalmist! This beautiful phrase incorporates several Hebrew words, all small but vitally important. "La ad le olam." This means "to eternity to perpetuity!" The "ad" is from a verb, "adah," that means "to advance, to pass on, to continue without ending!" And "olam" is a word that suggests "a vanishing point!" Eternity lasts as long as God can see! As far as His Eyes can behold! Without end! The two little "L" words, both "la" and "le," are prepositions meaning "to or towards or even belonging to" something!

Truly God's Word is settled for ever in Heaven! Psalm 119:89 tells us so: "For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in Heaven."

The next thing we're told is that they, the Commandments of God, are "done in truth and uprightness."

The verb here is "asah." It means "done" in this sense: accomplished, fashioned, artfully produced! There is beauty in Scripture as well as truth! It is manufactured skillfully by God Himself!

"Truth," the noun, means "faithful or sure or stable!" This is spelled "emeth." Not only does Scripture contain no errors ... it is durable and dependable and trustworthy and firm! You can lean upon it with confidence!

Then comes "uprightness." The word is "yashar" in Hebrew and means "straight or level or correct or just or even equal!" Sounds precisely "balanced" to me! The first time "yasher" is used in the Bible that which is right in God's Eyes is being discussed! Yes, the Bible passes God's Test! Meets His approval! See Exodus 15:26.

In fact, here's just how much God appreciates His Word! "Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy Name." Here's the whole verse. It too links worship and the Word! "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." Psalm 138:2

I say, "Amen!"

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, VERSE 9:

Indeed the whole chapter exalts God supremely, Psalm 111.

Verse 9 is typical, speaking of the Lord: "He sent redemption unto His people; He hath commanded His covenant for ever; holy and reverend is His name."

Three facts are here presented, all totally magnificent!

God sent redemption to His people!

The verb "sent" is spelled "shalach" in Hebrew and means "to cast out," as in "broadcasting" seed! It is literally "to sow" three times in the King James Bible. God is distributing redemption prodigally!

And "redemption" is "peduth," a rare word. Only used 4 times in Scripture, its basic idea is deliverance! It's background, "qadam," means "to precede" or "to hasten to someone for the purpose of helping them!" In its first Bible appearance, in Exodus 8:32, "division" is the meaning ascribed to "peduth!" Different from all others! And Psalm 130:7 reminds us that with God there is "plenteous redemption!"

The word for "people" is "am" in Hebrew and means those of kindred minds! These are people as a congregated unit! Specifically the Nation of Israel is the Psalmist's emphasis here in this context. But now God's people are Gentiles as well as Jews!

Next, God hath commanded His covenant for ever!

To "command" is to charge or give orders! God has such authority! "Tzsavah," to enjoin!

A "covenant," in Hebrew "beriyth," means an agreement between two parties, a promise or a vow! Even if one of the participating parties is great ... and the other quite insignificant! Its root verb is "to cut!" That's what happened to the animals that were slain so that their blood could aid in ratifying the covenant!

"For ever" is "to the vanishing point," that is ... "le olam." Eternally! Without end! Perpetually!

God intends to keep His promises, especially about salvation! It is an eternal contract with the Almighty! Better said, it is God's contract with us old sin stained humans, forgiving and saving our lost souls! A contract He will never void!

Thirdly, God's Name is said to be "holy and reverend."

By "name" is indicated the Lord's whole nature, His Essence. "Shem" can readily mean reputation or renown too!

"Holy" is "qadosh," set apart, separated! In fact, "qadash" means "to be clean" in Hebrew! Different than the world! These two words are spelled nearly alike, being from the same family.

"Reverend" translates a form of "yare," meaning fearful or full of awe!

Many Preachers, using this verse, do not prefer being called "Reverend." This is simply because the only time it's used in Scripture, right here, it refers to God! He is singly reverend! The "yare" word family suggests three levels of relationship I believe. Here they are: abject fear ... then reverential awe ... then fervent love!

What a God we serve!

"He sent redemption unto His people; He hath commanded His covenant for ever; holy and reverend is His name."

Amen!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10, VERSE 10:

No doubt, the Subject of Psalm 111 is the Lord God Almighty! He is the grand Theme from beginning to end. Ten verses of fact, praise and worship!

However, when one reaches verse seven, it is as if a second subject emerges! From there to the end of the Hymn the "commandments" of God are in view!

For example, the Commandments of the Lord are sure! Next, they stand fast for ever and ever! Thirdly, they are balanced with truth and uprightness! Also God is so great He has even commanded His covenant, again for ever!

That brings us to verse ten. "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." Psalm 111:10

These three sections, separated by colons, have linkage surely!

Let's take them one at a time.

First, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The word string "fear of the Lord" is important. I found thirty times that phrase exists in Scripture! If God says something once, we had better take heed! If He does so thirty times, what then? "Yirah" is fear and "Yehovah" is LORD, both being familiar Hebrew nouns. The Bible defines its own expressions. "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Proverbs 8:13

The noun "beginning" is spelled "reshiyth" and means the first, the best and the chief of anything! The fear of the Lord is the very foundation to knowing God! Proverbs 2:5 proves it. "Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God."

The noun "wisdom" is "chakmah" and means wise in this sense, skillful at godly living! No man or woman ever can know God or His Word apart from this attitude of deep reverence, sincerely humility, clean living and God centeredness!

Secondly, "A good understanding have all they that do His commandments." Understanding, "sekel" in Hebrew, means the ability to discern or exercise discretion, especially in spiritual matters. Its root verb carries the idea of being circumspect, constantly alert and aware! "Good" is a supporting adjective, "tob," that means, among other things, excellent and pleasant and agreeable and precious and beautiful!

Such good understanding comes from one's "doing" God's Word! "Asah" indicates "making" as well as "doing" but that first definition will not apply here. God's Word is already "made," written and completed! At the same time our obeying Scripture certainly "confirms" it in the eyes of others, "models" it as some say. Here "asah" is a participle revealing on-going action. Keep on obeying! 

Obeying what? God's Commandments! Although italicized in the King James Text, God's Commandments must be the object of this "doing," this "obeying." They have been the theme since verse seven, or at least the sub-theme! "Piqqud," based on its parent verb "paqad," has the meaning of a "visitation" from God! God, through His Word, is present!

Now we have gone from the right heart attitude to the knowledge and obedience of the Word of God!

Thirdly and lastly today, "His praise endureth for ever." When one's heart is right ("fear of the Lord") and one's mind is right ("good understanding of God's Word") and one's will is right ("doing" God's commandments") ... subsequently comes "praise!" It is consequential! "Tehillah" is translated "praise" all 57 times it occurs in Scripture. Its root verb, "halal," means to shine! Or to be clear! Then, to brag or boast on Someone! Then, to celebrate!

"Endureth," the verb, is a rendering of "amad" and suggests "remaining or enduring or taking one's stand!" There's nothing transient here! God will be praised permanently!

"For ever," serving adverbially here, is a translation of "la ad" in Hebrew, two words. The first, a preposition, means "to or into or towards" and the second means "to pass on and on and on some more!" Never ceasing! To continually advance!

In one sense verse ten reveals the foundation of praise, real praise to God! Under it is found a thick layer of "the fear of the Lord." Then there's a truckload of wisdom and understanding too! Plus a base of Bible knowledge, with accompanying obedience! Then the superstructure appears, praise unto the Lord God for evermore!

The divine logic of Scripture astounds any Bible student as he continues a lifelong journey into God's Word!

Amen!

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

CONCLUSION:

We have been studying Psalm 111. It seems to be an expression of worship to our great God! It is certainly Theo-centric, God centered to the core!

But today I want us to notice not just the words, nouns and verbs and all the rest, but also the over-all structure the Holy Spirit has used in building the Psalm as a whole. This is amazing!

Apparent in English as well as Hebrew, the Psalm has in its first eight verses sixteen "couplets," two line units!

Then in its last two verses it incorporates two "triplets," three line units!

What systematic beauty! And from the Hand of Him Who does everything "decently and in order!" See 1st Corinthians 14:40.

The Lord not only wrote this Chapter of Scripture, He assembled it too!

Then Psalm 111 perfectly parallels its "mate," Psalm 112. Both have ten verses. Both are basically structured as "alphabet" Psalms, incorporating each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet as the lines progress. And both exalt the Lord!

Here's their difference. Psalm 111 centers on the LORD Who is to be feared, while Psalm 112 focuses on the Man who fears the Lord!

One Bible Teacher noticed that the 111th Psalm has three main centers of activity. The first three verses, he says, involve WORSHIP! While the next three incorporate WONDER! That leaves the last four verses to advance WISDOM! Sometimes it helps to see a Passage in an alliterative sense.

Then another wise man suggests that the Psalm contains three great duties for the Believer! The fear of the Lord is foundational to any success in the Christian life! The Psalmist, in verse 10, has it being the "the beginning of wisdom!" So, fear Him!

Then we are to obey God's Commandments! The specific verb used is "do." Yes, "do" God's Commands! "Asah" makes godly living an art! It means to "fashion" something! In the King James Bible, it is also expressed in these ways: to "show" something! Even to "perform" it! Also to "dress" it! Think of that! Wearing God's Word! Here's how Paul worded such a thing in Titus 2:10, "That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." The verb "adorn" is "cosmeo," from which we get the word "cosmetics" or "cosmetician!"

Thirdly, we are to praise our Almighty God! That, praising Him, we had better practice here and now. For in Heaven such glory exists for ever! The last words of the Psalm, "His praise endureth for ever."

Put them all together and you have three "steps" to godly Wisdom, all from its final verse.

Fear God!

Obey His Commandments!

Praise His Name!

The result? Wisdom!

And are these not sequential, in order?

As we fear God, reverencing Him more and more, we learn to obey His Commandments! And as we more seriously and intently obey the Word, we instinctively praise Him increasingly!

One might say that tenth verse, the finale, is the "icing" on the cake for sure! Here it is again: "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."

Amen!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

... I AM SO THANKFUL WE HAVE STUDIED PSALM 111. IT EXALTS THE LORD MAGNIFICENTLY!

 

 

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