Praise to Jehovah for Redemption 

a brief study of Psalm 111, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 22 Oct 2010 


Psalm 111 is the first of a three-psalms block that begins with the Hebrew hallelujah (הללויה). After Psalm 113, the next block of psalms that begin with hallelujah, would be Psalms 146-150. Hallelujah means ‘Praise Jehovah’ or ‘Praise the LORD.’ So Psalm 111 is a psalm of praise. From the content of the psalm, we see that it is a psalm of praise unto the LORD for His work of redemption as typified by His Redemption of Israel from Egypt. It was appointed by the early church as one of the psalms to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the joy that the resurrection brings to the body of Christ. 

We may entitle it “The Hallelujah of Messiah & His People when Reviewing the Work of Redemption” or simply, “Praise to Jehovah for Redemption.”

Now, Psalm 111 is also an acrostic psalm. It is one of seven such psalms in the Psalter (cf. Pss 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119 and 145). In this case, every half a verse or so begins with the next letter in the Hebrews Alphabet. Quite obviously this would be a memory aid for the Hebrew children. However, for those of us who are not Hebrew speakers, there is not much advantage to know the acrostic structure except to remind ourselves of how basic and important it is for us to remember and praise the LORD who is our Alpha and Omega. 

Content-wise, this psalm has a very simple structure. The first verse is an introductory call to praise. Then from verses 2-9 are seven reasons why we should praise the LORD. And finally, verse 10 is a concluding statement. 

In each of these three sections, a phrase or word stands out to summarise the content of the section. It would do well for us to notice them. In the first section, the words must be ‘with my whole heart’; in the second section, the words are ‘He hath”; and the third section, the word is ‘wisdom.’ 

Let’s consider first…


1. The Call To Praise: With My Whole Heart! 

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

Praise ye the LORD,” translates the Hebrew Hallelujah. It is a call to all who are in earshot to join in to praise the LORD. The apostle Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:16 that we are to teach and admonish one another in the singing of psalms. When we sing Hallelujah or “praise ye the LORD,” we are stirring one another’s heart to praise the LORD. 

But to do so with sincerity, we ourselves must praise the LORD wholeheartedly. So we sing, “I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.” 

I must not only praise the LORD, I must love the Lord with all my whole heart, soul, mind and strength (Dt 6:5). Therefore, I must praise Him with my entire being. Now, that does not mean that I must drop everything and exercise myself to praising the Lord in public worship. What it does mean is that when I praise the Lord in the singing of His Word, I must not go through the motion, but sing with depth of emotion and gratitude. 

Of course, by nature I cannot do that. Christ alone can be perfectly wholehearted when He praises the Father. But Christ has given us His Spirit so that when we sing His Word in union with Him, we are enabled by the Spirit to sing with grace in our heart and our worship is acceptable and pleasing to the Father for the sake of His son our covenant head.

But now, why? Why should we praise the LORD?


2. The Reasons to Praise: He Hath 

Here are seven reasons centred around the words “He hath.” 

First, “The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein” (v. 2). That is to say: the works that He hath done are great and mighty. Those who ponder about that will take great delight in them. Think about His Work of creation small and great. Think about His Work of providence general and special; and surely you cannot but overflow with thanksgiving from your heart. 

Secondly, we should praise the LORD, for “His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth forever” (v. 3). Not only are the works of the Lord that He hath done great, they are also honourable and glorious. They display His righteousness. This is especially in His redemption of Israel, for it is not only a display of His might, but also an outworking of His covenant promises. Indeed, His redemption of the church is even more a display of God’s honour and righteousness, for it involves Christ our Lord paying for the penalty of our sin. How much more then should we bestir our hearts to praise the Lord. 

Thirdly, we should praise the LORD because “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion” (v. 4). The LORD would have His people remember Him as being gracious and full of compassion. That was how He led the people out of Egypt and through the wilderness. They deserved nothing but His wrath, and yet He graciously and compassionately provided for all that they needed, whether in terms of protection or food or water. 

Fourthly, we should praise the LORD because “He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant” (v. 5). Not only does He provide food for His people, He provides them with His blessing. He is mindful of His covenant that they would be His people and He would be their God. Thus, while He sends the rain and the sunshine on the just and unjust, He does specially provide for His people all things to enjoy with His blessings. 

Fifthly, we should praise the LORD for “He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.” (v. 6). He had promised to give the land of Canaan to His people. He saw to it that the land was given to them through mighty signs and wonders. 

Sixthly, we should praise the LORD since “The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. 8 They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness” (v. 7-8). The Lord is true, faithful and just in all that He does. He is not capricious and undecided. His commandments are sure. They do not change with time and situations. He is trustworthy and dependable, unlike man. 

Finally, we should praise the LORD because “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name” (v. 9). In other words, we should praise Him simply because He has redeemed His people. He has ordered our redemption according to His covenant faithfulness and His perfection of transcendent holiness. As He had decreed and spoken, so He would do. Nothing would hinder His great work. This is true for the Israelites in the Old Covenant. This is true for the church throughout the ages. 

Beloved brethren and children, what do we learn from here as to the reason we should praise the LORD? I trust you can see how we should praise the LORD on the basis of what He has done and never on whether we feel happy and triumphant. Man and circumstances may change, but the LORD never changes. We must always praise Him as we think about His holy Character and His mighty works.[1]
But now consider,… 


3. The Encouragement to Praise: Wisdom

10 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

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” This beautiful idea is repeated in a number of places. Job, for example says: 

  • Job 28:28—Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. 
Solomon likewise repeats: 

  • Prov 1:7—The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 
  • Prov 9:10—The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. 
  • Prov 15:33—The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. 

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. That is to say: If you want to have true wisdom, you must start with the fear of the LORD. The fear of the LORD is like the alphabet of knowledge and wisdom. In order to read to acquire knowledge, you need first to know your alphabets; and you must know it for the rest of your life. 

All those who fear the Lord with that loving, reverential fear will want to praise the LORD; and to keep His commandments. 

These are those who will unite with Christ to praise the Father for ever and ever, for “his praise endureth for ever.” To Him belongs eternal praise. And He would have not just angels to praise Him, but a body of sinners redeemed by grace to praise Him in union with His Son forever and ever. 

Such is true wisdom. 


Conclusion 

This is Psalm 111. Let us sing this psalm to exhort and encourage one another to praise the LORD. Let us praise Him for His great work of redemption of our fathers in the faith. But let us especially praise Him for how He has redeemed us in Christ. Let us praise Him for His holiness, justice, righteousness, grace, mercy, compassion and covenant faithfulness that He has shown towards us in Christ. Let us praise Him for what He has done. Let us praise the LORD for it is when God our Creator and Redeemer is most glorified that we shall have the greatest joy as His creatures and redeemed people. Herein is wisdom. He, who has ears to hear, let him hear. He, who has a tongue to sing, let him praise! Amen. Ω 


[1]
In Psalm 112, which has a similar structure to this psalm, we are called to praise God for what He does in the lives of believers.