Verse 10. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom " - The original stands thus: hwhy tary hmkj tyar reshith chokmah, yirath Yehovah, The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Jehovah. Wisdom itself begins with this fear; true wisdom has this for its commencement. It is the first ingredient in it, and is an essential part of it. In vain does any man pretend to be wise who does not fear the Lord; and he who fears the Lord departs from evil: he who lives in sin neither fears God, nor is wise.
"A good understanding have all they that do his commandments " - These last words we add as necessary to make up the sense; but there is no need of this expedient, as the words of the original literally read thus: "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Jehovah; good discernment to the doers." That is, They who act according to the dictates of wisdom, the commencement of which is the fear of Jehovah, have a sound understanding, discern their duty and their interest, and live to secure their own peace, their neighbour's good, and God's glory.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND ELEVENTH PSALM
It is supposed that this hymn was set by the author to be sung at the passover; and that it might be the more readily learned and remembered, the colons are in number as many as, and arranged in the order of, the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It is an exhortation to praise God for his wonderful benefits bestowed on the world at large, and especially on Israel and the Church.
There are three parts in this Psalm: - I. A resolution of the psalmist to praise God; the manner in which he would do so; and the company with whom he would do it, ver. 1.
II. An expression of the reasons which moved him to praise God, viz., his admirable benefits, special and general, ver. 2-9.
III. An inference from the premises by way of sentiment in which he commends the fear of God, ver. 10.
I. The title of this Psalms is, "Hallelujah, praise ye the Lord;" and he adds: - 1. "I will praise the Lord." And shows how it should be done.
2. Not hypocritically; not with the lips only, but "with the heart." 3. "With the whole heart." 4. Not only secretly, but also "in the assembly of the upright," &c. 1.
Both in the assembly, where these good and upright men are. 2. And also in a mixed multitude, and secretly among good men.
II. And, having made a pious confession of his readiness to practice the duty, he next sets down the ground and matter of his praise.
First. His works of power, in the creation and conservation of the world, or the favours shown to the Church: "And these works of the Lord are great." 1. Great, not only for variety and beauty, but also in base creatures his wisdom is admirable, and to be admired. 2. Great; for it was great to take to himself a people out of another people, to make a covenant with them, and to reveal his promises, and give them a law, to settle among them a policy for Church and state. 3. Fools and impious men, indeed, but little consider these works; they think not of their Author: but in the eyes of all wise men "they are sought out," &c.
Secondly. His works of wisdom, in governing the creatures he has created, and in guiding and collecting his Church. 1. It is honourable; and much more so its Author. 2. And glorious; far above the works of princes. 3. And righteous: "He is a righteous God, and his righteousness endureth for ever." For he never departs from the exact rule of justice.
Which record must be kept: - "He hath made his wonderful works," &c. As in the Jewish hosts.
Thirdly. His works of mercy. They proceed from mere mercy: "For the Lord is gracious," &c. 1. "Gracious," in doing these works. 2. "Full of compassion," as a father towards his children.
Of these the prophet gives several instances: - 1. "He hath given meat," &c. He nourished his people for forty years in the wilderness, giving them meat from heaven.
2. "He will ever be mindful," &c. Notwithstanding their provocations.
3. "He hath showed his people," &c. As in the turning of Jordan backwards, overthrowing Jericho, staying the sun and moon, &c.
4. "That he might give them," &c. By the expulsion of the Canaanites: "The works of the Lord are great," &c.
He now uses an acclamation: "The works of his hands are,": - 1. Verity. Making good his promise to Abraham.
2. Judgment. Executed on idolaters and profane persons.
And shows unto all the world that: - 1. "All his commandments are sure." That his laws, especially his moral laws, are of everlasting obligation on all.
2. That these commands "stand fast for ever;" for they are established in truth, equity, justice, and reason.
The prophet next speaks of a mercy far exceeding all the rest, the work of human redemption by Christ. This may be thus expounded, and better than in reference to the redemption of Israel out of Egypt.
1. "He sent redemption," &c. A Redeemer so long promised.
2. "He hath commanded his covenant," &c. Which is still extant.
III. The prophet, having enumerated many of God's works of power, wisdom, and mercy, concludes the Psalm with three acclamations.
"Holy and reverend," &c. Either in his service, or whenever he is signified.
1. Holy-unpolluted by hypocrisy. The command is, "Be ye holy, for I am holy." 2. Reverend-not rashly or negligently performed. Or, as some read it, terrible; and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The second acclamation follows upon the preceding: - 1. This fear "is the beginning of wisdom." For these men begin to be wise; "to eschew evil, and do good." 2. This fear, if it be right, will be practical: "For a good understanding," &c.
The third acclamation is, "His praise endureth for ever." Which some refer to God, others to man; but both are true. For the praise must continue for ever: "His power, mercy," &c.
If referred to man then the sense will be: - 1. "His praise." For "they that dwell in thy house," &c., Psa. lxxxiv. 4.
2. Or "His praise." The commendation of a good man "will be had in everlasting remembrance," Psa. cxii. 6. "The name of the wicked shall rot," &c.; Prov. x. 7. "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," &c.; Matt. xxv. 21. His praise is in this world lasting, but in the world to come everlasting.