PSALM 112 OVERVIEW
TITLE AND SUBJECT. There is no title to this psalm, but it is evidently a companion to the hundred and eleventh, and, like it, it is an alphabetical psalm. Even in the number of verses, and clauses of each verse, it coincides with its predecessor, as also in many of its words and phrases. The reader should carefully compare the two psalms line by line. The subject of the poem before us is -- the blessedness of the righteous man, and so it bears the same relation to the preceding which the moon does to the sun; for, while the first declares the glory of God, the second speaks of the reflection of the divine brightness in men born from above. God is here praised for the manifestation of his glory which is seen in his people, just as in the preceding psalm he was magnified for his own personal acts. The hundred and eleventh speaks of the great Father, and this describes his children renewed after his image. The psalm cannot be viewed as the extolling of man, for it commences with "Praise ye the Lord;" and it is intended to give to God all the honour of his grace which is manifested in the sons of God.
Division. The subject is stated in the first verse, and enlarged upon under several heads from 2 to 9. The blessedness of the righteousness is set forth by contrast with the fate of the ungodly in verse 10.
Verse 1. Praise ye the LORD. This exhortation is never given too often; the Lord always deserves praise, we ought always to render it, we are frequently forgetful of it, and it is always well to be stirred up to it. The exhortation is addressed to all thoughtful persons who observe the way and manner of life of men that fear the Lord. If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, the Lord should have all the glory of it, for we are his workmanship.
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord. According to the last verse of Psalm 111, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; this man, therefore, has begun to be wise, and wisdom has brought him present happiness, and secured him eternal felicity. Jehovah is so great that he is to be feared and had in reverence of all them that are round about him, and he is at the same time so infinitely good that the fear is sweetened into filial love, and becomes a delightful emotion, by no means engendering bondage. There is a slavish fear which is accursed; but that godly fear which leads to delight in the service of God is infinitely blessed. Jehovah is to be praised both for inspiring men with godly fear and for the blessedness which they enjoy in consequence thereof. We ought to bless God for blessing any man, and especially for setting the seal of his approbation upon the godly. His favour towards the God fearing displays his character and encourages gracious feelings in others, therefore let him be praised.
That delighteth greatly in his commandments. The man not only studies the divine precepts and endeavours to observe them, but rejoices to do so: holiness is his happiness, devotion is his delight, truth is his treasure. He rejoices in the precepts of godliness, yea, and delights greatly in them. We have known hypocrites rejoice in the doctrines, but never in the commandments. Ungodly men may in some measure obey the commandments out of fear, but only a gracious man will observe them with delight. Cheerful obedience is the only acceptable obedience; he who obeys reluctantly is disobedient at heart, but he who takes pleasure in the command is truly loyal. If through divine grace we find ourselves described in these two sentences, let us give all the praise to God, for he hath wrought all our works in us, and the dispositions out of which they spring. Let self righteous men praise themselves, but he who has been made righteous by grace renders all the praise to the Lord.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The hundred and eleventh and the hundred and twelfth psalms, two very short poems, dating apparently from the latest age of inspired psalmody, present such features of resemblance as to leave no doubt that they came from the same pen. In structure they are identical; and this superficial resemblance is designed to call attention to something deeper and more important. The subject of the one is the exact counterpart of the subject of the other. The first celebrates the character and works of God; the second, the character and felicity of the godly man. --William Binnie.
Whole Psalm. Here are rehearsed the blessings which God is wont to bestow on the godly. And as in the previous Psalm the praises of God were directly celebrated, so in this Psalm they are indirectly declared by those gifts which are conspicuous in those who fear him. --Solomon Gesner.
Whole Psalm. This psalm is a banquet of heavenly wisdom; and as Basil speaketh of another part of Scripture, likening it to an apothecary's shop; so may this book of the psalms fitly be compared; in which are so many sundry sorts of medicines, that every man may have that which is convenient for his disease. --T. S., 1621.
Whole Psalm. The righteousness of the Mediator, I make no doubt, is celebrated in this psalm; for surely that alone is worthy to be extolled in songs of praise: especially since we are taught by the Holy Ghost to say, "I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only." I conclude, therefore, that in this alphabetical psalm, for such is its construction, Christ is "the Alpha and the Omega." --John Fry.
Verse 1. This psalm is a praising of God for blessing the believer, and the whole Psalm doth prove that the believer is blessed: which proposition is set down in verse 1, and confirmed with as many reasons as there are verses following. Whence learn,
- Albeit, in singing of certain psalms, or parts thereof, there be nothing directly spoken of the Lord, or to the Lord, yet he is praised when his truth is our song, or when his works and doctrine are our song; as here it is said, Praise ye the Lord, and then in the following verses the blessedness of the believer taketh up all the psalm.
- It is the Lord's praise that his servants are the only blessed people in the world. Praise ye the Lord. Why? because Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord.
- He is not the blessed man who is most observant to catch opportunities to have pleasure, profit, and worldly preferment, and careth not how he cometh by them: but he is the blessed man who is most observant of God's will, and careful to follow it. --David Dickson.
Verse 1. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord. It is not said simply, "Blessed is the man who fears": for there is a fear which of itself produces misery and wretchedness rather than happiness. It has to do, therefore, chiefly with what is feared. To fear when it is not becoming, and not to fear when fear is proper, these are not blessedness for a man, but misery and wretchedness. The prophet, therefore, says rightly, "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord": and in the 7th and 8th verses he says of this blessed one that he shall not be afraid of evil tidings. Therefore, he who fears God and, according to the exhortation of Christ, does not fear those who can kill the body, he truly may be numbered among the blessed. --Wolfgang Musculus.
Verse 1. Feareth the Lord. Filial fear is here intended. Whereby we are both restrained from evil, Proverbs 3:7 ; and incited unto well doing, Ecclesiastes 12:13 ; and whereof God alone is the author, Jeremiah 32:39-40 ; A duty required of every one, Psalms 33:8 ; Early, 1 Kings 18:12 ; Only, Lu 12:5; Continually, Proverbs 23:17 ; With confidence, Psalms 115:11 ; With joyfulness, Psalms 119:74 ; With thankfulness, Revelation 19:5 . --Thomas Wilson, in "A Complete Christian Dictionary," 1661.
Verse 1. That delighteth greatly in his commandments. The Hebrew word px, chaphets, is rather emphatic, which is, as it were, to take his pleasure, and I have rendered it to delight himself. For the prophet makes a distinction between a willing and prompt endeavour to keep the law, and that which consists in mere servile and constrained obedience. --John Calvin.
Verse 1. That delighteth greatly in his commandments -- defining what constitutes the true "fear of the Lord," which was termed "the beginning of wisdom," Psalms 111:10 . He who hath this true "fear" delights ( Psalms 111:2 ) not merely in the theory, but in the practice of all "the Lord's commandments." Such fear, so far from being a "hard" service, is the only "blessed" one ( Jeremiah 32:39 ). Compare the Gospel commandments, 1 John 3:23-24 Ps 112:3. True obedience is not task work, as formalists regard religion, but a "delight" (Ps 1:2). Worldly delights, which made piety irksome, are supplanted by the newborn delight in and taste for the will and ways of God ( Psalms 19:7-10 ). --A. R. Fausset.
Verse 1. In his commandments. When we cheerfully practice all that the Lord requireth of us, love sweetens all things, and it becomes our meat and drink to do his will. The thing commanded is excellent, but it is sweeter because commanded by him -- "his commandments." A man is never thoroughly converted till he delighteth in God and his service, and his heart is overpowered by the sweetness of divine love. A slavish kind of religiousness, when we had rather not do than do our work, is no fruit of grace, and cannot evidence a sincere love. --Thomas Manton.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. "Praise ye the LORD."
- Who should be praised? Not man, self, wealth, etc., but God only.
- Who should praise him? All men, but specially his people, the blessed ones described in this psalm.
- Why should they do it? For all the reasons mentioned in succeeding verses.
- How should they do it? Chiefly by leading such a life as is here described.
Verse 1. (second clause).
- Fear of the Lord; what it is.
- Its connection with the delight mentioned.
- The qualities in the commandments which excite delight in God fearing minds.