After a few weeks away from the Psalms for Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday, we return to the book of Psalms for our Sunday worship preparation. We are up to Psalm 111, a brief but beautiful psalm which is most appropriate for worship. Here is God’s Word according to this song of praise:
Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.
2The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.
3His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
4He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.
5He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.
6He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.
7The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.
8They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.
9He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.
10The 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 psalmist begins with the familiar “Hallelujah” (Praise ye the LORD”), calling God’s people to give praise to Jehovah God. Though this was penned as a personal song, the psalmist is no “lone ranger” Christian, worshiping God by himself and in his own way. Clearly he seeks the worship of God in the communion of saints and wants all of God’s people to join him in extolling the great God of their salvation. For as he thinks on God’s wondrous works and His attributes which are revealed in them, he plainly has the whole church in view and describes these works as being toward all God’s people (vss.5,6,9).
So for us as we worship today. Our praise of the Lord must be personal, arising from our own experience of God’s greatness and grace. But it must also be communal, as we join with the redeemed of the Lord to magnify the Lord for His works and ways.
There are many rich concepts in this psalm, but certainly the theme of God’s covenant is worthy of being noted (vss.5,9). It is clear from the language of this psalm that the psalmist has in view especially God’s work of saving His people in Christ. And that work of salvation is precisely His covenant, as v.9 reveals. There the psalmist states that God’s work of sending redemption to His people is identical to His commanding His covenant forever (Hebrew parallelism)! When God redeems His people, He brings them into covenant with Himself! When He pays the price for their freedom from sin and death, He buys them into friendship and fellowship with Himself! And that price , which is the blood of Christ His own Son in our flesh, is the blood of the covenant! And in this redemptive covenant the LORD (the unchanging “I AM”) is faithful and true to His Word and promises. As the psalmist says in v. 5, “He will ever be mindful of His covenant.” And again in v.8; “They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.”
And so we may rest in peace and assurance in the sovereign, saving work of our God. Nothing and no one can undo His redemption of us or cause His covenant bond with us to break. In Christ we are secure, now and forever. And that too is reason to praise our God, today and always. Those who fear Him know this – and do this (v.10). Shall we manifest that godly fear in our worship today?
If you wish to meditate on this psalm and others through music, you are encouraged to visit the Psalter page on the PRC website. The only versification of this psalm found in our Psalter is this one (click on the title to hear piano accompaniment).
304. The Marvelous Works of God. Psalm 111. L.M. (4 stanzas)
1. O give the Lord whole-hearted praise,
To Him thanksgiving I will bring;
With all His people I will raise
My voice and of His glory sing.
2. His saints delight to search and trace
His mighty works and wondrous ways;
Majestic glory, boundless grace
And righteousness His work diplays.
3. The wondrous works that God has wrought
His people ever keep in mind,
His works with grace and mercy fraught,
Revealing that the Lord is kind.
4. God’s promise shall forever stand,
He cares for those who trust His word;
Upon His saints His mighty hand
The wealth of nations has conferred.
5. His works are true and just indeed,
His precepts are forever sure;
In truth and righteousness decreed
They shall for evermore endure.
6. From Him His saints’ redemption came;
His covenant sure no change can know;
Let all revere His holy Name
In heaven above and earth below.
7. In reverence and in godly fear
Man finds the gate to wisdom’s ways;
The wise His holy Name revere;
Through endless ages sound His praise.