Bible: What Does Psalms 111-117 Teach Us About Worshiping God?
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Psalms 111-117: The Hallel
As the first psalm in the Hallel (Pss. 111-117), this work emphasizes the many characteristics of the works of God on Israel's behalf, and seeks to praise Him for them.
The psalmist describes the LORD's works as great, worthy of study, honorable, glorious, memorable, powerful, true, just, steadfast, upright, and redemptive (vv. 2-4, 6-9).
Intimately associated with His works, of course, is His character.
The psalmist designates it as eternally righteous (v. 3b), gracious, full of compassion (v. 4b), and faithful to His covenant (v. 5b).
His precepts match His character; they are sure, steadfast, and performed in truth and uprightness (vv. 7b-8).
The psalmist concludes with a familiar proverb that shows the benefits that accrue to the one who fears the LORD: wisdom and good understanding (v. 10).
[A holy character speaks right words and performs just works].
As the companion to the previous psalm, this work resumes the earlier discussion about the one who fears the LORD (cf. Psalm 111:10), commenting initially that such a man is blessed (v. 1) with the following list of good things and personal qualities:
(1) influential children (v. 2)
(2) wealth (v. 3a)
(3) everlasting righteousness [imputed, of course] (vv. 3b, 9b)
(4) guidance (v. 4a)
(5) grace and compassion (vv. 4b, 5a)
(6) generosity (vv. 5, 9a)
(7) discretion (v. 5b)
(8) a long-lasting legacy (v. 6)
(9) steadfast trust in God (v. 7b)
(10) fearlessness (vv. 7a, 8a)
What happens to the wicked because of such blessing? They fail to accomplish much evil (v. 10).
[It is interesting to note that the righteous man shares many of the same character qualities as the LORD; God enables him to live the "good life"].
The psalmist issues a reminder (and a challenge) to God's servants that they should praise Him all day long (vv. 1-3).
Why? Verses 4-9 give the answers: He is the universal authority, yet deigns to exalt the needy to a place of honor (cf. Phil. 2:5-11; 2 Cor. 8:9).
No other so-called god would ever think of doing such a thing (vv. 5-6)!
[In a world full of elitist greed and the selfish use of power, the believer can rest assured that God does not (and will never) misuse His prerogatives].
Nature in its Splendor
The psalmist makes an introductory historical statement: after Israel's exodus from Egypt, God dwelt among them (vv. 1-2).
In the presence of almighty God, all nature—the Sea of Reeds, the Jordan River, the mountains, and the hills—bent its collective knee to His will (vv. 3-8; cf. Num. 20:11).
[Nothing can stand in God's way when He determines to accomplish some great work].
Yahweh: The Only God?
Is the LORD the only true God?
Aiming to ascribe all glory to his merciful, sovereign God of truth, the writer employs polemical speech (positive repetition) — “they have mouths . . . eyes they have . . . they have ears”—and contrast— “but they do not speak . . . but they do not see . . . but they do not hear”—, to unveil both the vanity and inanimate nature of the idols of the Gentiles (vv. 1-7).
Those who trust their idols become like them; that is, if the idol is a god of debauchery or lust, the people imitate their ideal and become greedy and sexually perverse (v. 8).
On the other hand, the LORD will protect those who trust in Him (“O Israel,” “O house of Aaron,” “You who fear the LORD”) [vv. 9-11]; blessing (vv. 12-13) and increase (vv. 14-15) come from Him.
[Note the repetitious clauses: “He is their help and their shield” (vv. 9-11); “He will bless . . .” (vv. 12-13); “May the LORD give you,” “May you be blessed by the LORD” (vv. 14-15)].
As those given stewardship over the Earth, God's people should bless the LORD (vv. 16-18).
[To guard against relapses, present the truth: worshiping idols will destroy you, but God will bless your life].
Because God condescended to hear his prayer, the writer professes his love for Him and commits himself to a lifetime of "calling upon" Yahweh (vv. 1-2).
He gives an example of how he prayed while on the verge of dying (vv. 3-4), and how the grace, righteousness, and mercy of the LORD saved him from disaster (vv. 5-6).
Having been delivered from death, he encourages himself to rest in God and walk with Him (vv. 7-9).
As signs of gratitude, the psalmist determines to "take up the cup of salvation" and "pay his vows" (vv. 12-14).
After confessing that he is God's servant, he reiterates that he will fulfill these commitments (vv. 16-18).
[Once he acknowledges that God has saved him from death, the believer will continue to pray, give thanks before many people, and serve the LORD with his whole life].
J. I. Packer
Even though it is the shortest psalm of all and the final one in the Hallel, Psalm 117 still contains a powerful message: it encourages the nations to praise the LORD for His great, merciful kindness toward Israel (“us”) and for His everlasting truth (vv. 1-2).
[This little poem is a good reminder that God's praise should extend universally because He is worthy; the LORD is not only the God of the Jews, but of the Gentiles as well].
© 2013 glynch1