“Praise the Lord.
I will extol the Lord with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.”
(Psalm 111 NIV)
The psalmist leads us in worship of our Lord, remembering God’s goodness. This psalm is an acrostic, where the first letter of each line begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This is the equivalent of writing a poem or verse using our English “A to Z” as the first letter of each line.
As is common in the Psalms, the psalmist breaks the psalm into five parts, to show respect for the Torah (the first five books of the Bible, written by Moses). Here are the breakouts for this psalm:
- v. 1a – the subject of the psalm – praising God
- v. 1b – the psalmist’s personal praise of God
- vv. 2-5 – the remembrance of what God has done for His people in the past
- vv. 6-9 – God’s promises for His people, both now and in the future
- v. 10 – the application “take-away” – what is to be remembered
The second section begins by the psalmist putting “skin in the game”, proclaiming their praise for the Lord in public. The psalmist is no closet worshiper – he is not afraid to state his trust in the Lord in public.
The third section is filled with reminders of all that God has done for His people:
- God’s Word and history recorded so others can study and delight in it (v. 2)
- God’s creation and majesty celebrated (v. 3)
- God’s grace and compassion remembered (v. 4)
- God’s promise and day-to-day care for His people (v. 5)
In the fourth section, the psalmist recounts God’s promises to care for His people:
- God’s provision for His people, giving them land for a home (v. 6)
- God’s character, displayed in truth and justice (v. 7)
- God’s character, shown through faithfulness and integrity (v. 8)
- God’s covenant (promise) for redemption, for all eternity (v. 9)
In the fifth and final section, the psalmist reminds us that God has done His part, and that we have a responsibility as well. In essence, the psalmist sees all that God has done, is doing, and promises to do in the future, and recounts his response to God’s goodness.
And what is our part? Let’s recount, by section:
- Section 1: intentionally set aside time to praise the Lord
- Section 2: humble ourselves, and give God praise (and not praise ourselves)
- Section 3: study God’s Word and remember what God has done in the past
- Section 4: Trust God’s promises of provision for us now and in the future
- Section 5: humble ourselves, seek and obey God’s wisdom and guidance first
The psalmist’s lesson is applicable to every generation from then to eternity, and especially now. May we heed his wise advice, bow our knee, and give God the glory for His goodness to us. It’s the least we can do, after all God has done for us.