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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–5
Verses 1–5

The title of the psalm being Hallelujah, the psalmist (as every author ought to have) has an eye to his title, and keeps to his text.

I. He resolves to praise God himself, Ps. 111:1. What duty we call others to we must oblige and excite ourselves to; nay, whatever others do, whether they will praise God or no, we and our houses must determine to do it, we and our hearts; for such is the psalmist’s resolution here: I will praise the Lord with my whole heart. My heart, my whole heart, being devoted to his honour, shall be employed in this work; and this in the assembly, or secret, of the upright, in the cabinet-council, and in the congregation of Israelites. Note, We must praise God both in private and in public, in less and greater assemblies, in our own families and in the courts of the Lord’s house; but in both it is most comfortable to do it in concert with the upright, who will heartily join in it. Private meetings for devotion should be kept up as well as more public and promiscuous assemblies.

II. He recommends to us the works of the Lord as the proper subject of our meditations when we are praising him—the dispensations of his providence towards the world, towards the church, and towards particular persons. 1. God’s works are very magnificent, great like himself; there is nothing in them that is mean or trifling: they are the products of infinite wisdom and power, and we must say this upon the first view of them, before we come to enquire more particularly into them, that the works of the Lord are great, Ps. 111:2. There is something in them surprising, and that strikes an awe upon us. All the works of the Lord are spoken of as one (Ps. 111:3); it is his work, such is the beauty and harmony of Providence and so admirably do all its dispensations centre in one design; it was cried to the wheels, O wheel! Ezek. 10:13. Take all together, and it is honourable and glorious, and such as becomes him. 2. They are entertaining and exercising to the inquisitive—sought out of all those that have pleasure therein. Note, (1.) All that truly love God have pleasure in his works, and reckon all well that he does; nor do their thoughts dwell upon any subject with more delight than on the works of God, which the more they are looked into the more they give us of a pleasing surprise. (2.) Those that have pleasure in the works of God will not take up with a superficial transient view of them, but will diligently search into them and observe them. In studying both natural and political history we should have this in our eye, to discover the greatness and glory of God’s works. (3.) These works of God, that are humbly and diligently sought into, shall be sought out; those that seek shall find (so some read); they are found of all those that have pleasure in them, or found in all their parts, designs, purposes, and several concernments (so Dr. Hammond), for the secret of the Lord is with those that fear him, Ps. 25:14. 3. They are all justly and holy; His righteousness endures for ever. Whatever he does, he never did, nor ever will do, any wrong to any of his creatures; and therefore his works endure for ever (Eccl. 3:14) because the righteousness of them endures. 4. They are admirable and memorable, fit to be registered and kept on record. Much that we do is so trifling that it is not fit to be spoken of or told again; the greatest kindness is to forget it. But notice is to be taken of God’s works, and an account to be kept of them (Ps. 111:4). He has made his wonderful works to be remembered; he has done that which is worthy to be remembered, which cannot but be remembered, and he has instituted ways and means for the keeping of some of them in remembrance, as the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt by the passover. He has made himself a memorial by his wonderful works (so some read it); see Isa. 63:10. By that which God did with his glorious arm he made himself an everlasting name. 5. They are very kind. In them the Lord shows that he is gracious and full of compassion. As of the works of creation, so of the works of providence, we must say, They are not only all very great, but all very good. Dr. Hammond takes this to be the name which God has made to himself by his wonderful works, the same with that which he proclaimed to Moses, The Lord God is gracious and merciful, Exod. 24:6. God’s pardoning sin is the most wonderful of all his works and which ought to be remembered to his glory. It is a further instance of his grace and compassion that he has given meat to those that fear him, Ps. 111:5. He gives them their daily bread, food convenient for them; so he does to others by common providence, but to those that fear him he gives it by covenant and in pursuance of the promise, for it follows, He will be ever mindful of his covenant; so that they can taste covenant-love even in common mercies. Some refer this to the manna with which God fed his people Israel in the wilderness, others to the spoil they got from the Egyptians when they came out with great substance, according to the promise, Gen. 15:14. When God broke the heads of leviathan he gave him to be meat to his people, Ps. 74:14. He has given prey to those that fear him (so the margin has it), not only fed them, but enriched them, and given their enemies to be a prey to them. 6. They are earnests of what he will do, according to his promise: He will ever be mindful of his covenant, for he has ever been so; and, as he never did, so he never will, let one jot or tittle of it fall to the ground. Though God’s people have their infirmities, and are often unmindful of his commands, yet he will ever be mindful of his covenant.