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

The psalmist begins with a call to us to praise God, but immediately applies himself to praise the people of God; for whatever glory is acknowledged to be on them it comes from God, and must return to him; as he is their praise, so they are his. We have reason to praise the Lord that there are a people in the world who fear him and serve him, and that they are a happy people, both which are owing entirely to the grace of God. Now here we have,

I. A description of those who are here pronounced blessed, and to whom these promises are made.

1. They are well-principled with pious and devout affections. Those have the privileges of God’s subjects, not who cry, Lord, Lord, but who are indeed well affected to his government. (1.) They are such as stand in awe of God and have a constant reverence for his majesty and deference to his will. The happy man is he that fears the Lord, Ps. 112:1. (2.) They are such as take a pleasure in their duty. He that fears the Lord, as a Father, with the disposition of a child, not of a slave, delights greatly in his commandments, is well pleased with them and with the equity and goodness of them; they are written in his heart; it is his choice to be under them, and he calls them an easy, a pleasant, yoke; it is his delight to be searching into and conversing with God’s commandments, by reading, hearing, and meditation, Ps. 1:2. He delights not only in God’s promises, but in his precepts, and thinks himself happy under God’s government as well as in his favour. It is a pleasure to him to be found in the way of his duty, and he is in his element when he is in the service of God. Herein he delights greatly, more than in any of the employments and enjoyments of this world. And what he does in religion is done from principle, because he sees amiableness in religion and advantage by it.

2. They are honest and sincere in their professions and intentions. They are called the upright (Ps. 112:2, 4), who are really as good as they seem to be, and deal faithfully both with God and man. There is no true religion without sincerity; that is gospel-perfection.

3. They are both just and kind in all their dealings: He is gracious, full of compassion, and righteous (Ps. 112:4), dares not do any wrong to any man, but does to every man all the good he can, and that from a principle of compassion and kindness. It was said of God, in the foregoing psalm (Ps. 112:4), He is gracious, and full of compassion; and here it is said of the good man that he is so; for herein we must be followers of God as dear children; be merciful as he is. He is full of compassion, and yet righteous; what he does good with is what he came honestly by. God hates robbery for burnt-offerings, and so does he. One instance is given of his beneficence (Ps. 112:5): He shows favour and lends. Sometimes there is as much charity in lending as in giving, as it obliges the borrower both to industry and honesty. He is gracious and lends (Ps. 37:26); he does it from a right principle, not as the usurer lends for his own advantage, nor merely out of generosity, but out of pure charity; he does it in a right manner, not grudgingly, but pleasantly, and with a cheerful countenance.

II. The blessedness that is here entailed upon those that answer to these characters. Happiness, all happiness, to the man that feareth the Lord. Whatever men think or say of them, God says that they are blessed; and his saying so makes them so.

1. The posterity of good men shall fare the better for his goodness (Ps. 112:2): His seed shall be mighty on earth. Perhaps he himself shall not be so great in the world, nor make such a figure, as his seed after him shall for his sake. Religion has been the raising of many a family, if not so as to advance it high, yet so as to fix it firmly. When good men themselves are happy in heaven their seed perhaps are considerable on earth, and will themselves own that it is by virtue of a blessing descending from them. The generation of the upright shall be blessed; if they tread in their steps, they shall be the more blessed for their relation to them, beloved for the Father’s sake (Rom. 11:28), for so runs the covenant—I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed; while the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned. Let the children of godly parents value themselves upon it, and take heed of doing any thing to forfeit the blessing entailed upon the generation of the upright.

2. They shall prosper in the world, and especially their souls shall prosper, Ps. 112:3. (1.) They shall be blessed with outward prosperity as far as is good for them: Wealth and riches shall be in the upright man’s house, not in his heart (for he is none of those in whom the love of money reigns), perhaps not so much in his hand (for he only begins to raise the estate), but in his house; his family shall grow rich when he is gone. But, (2.) That which is much better is that they shall be blessed with spiritual blessings, which are the true riches. His wealth shall be in his house, for he must leave that to others; but his righteousness he himself shall have the comfort of to himself, it endures for ever. Grace is better than gold, for it will outlast it. He shall have wealth and riches, and yet shall keep up his religion, and in a prosperous condition shall still hold fast his integrity, which many, who kept it in the storm, throw off and let go in the sunshine. Then worldly prosperity is a blessing when it does not make men cool in their piety, but they still persevere in that; and when this endures in the family, and goes along with the wealth and riches, and the heirs of the father’s estate inherit his virtues too, that is a happy family indeed. However, the good man’s righteousness endures for ever in the crown of righteousness which fades not away.

3. They shall have comfort in affliction (Ps. 112:4): Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness. It is here implied that good men may be in affliction; the promise does not exempt them from that. They shall have their share in the common calamities of human life; but, when they sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to them, Mic. 7:8. They shall be supported and comforted under their troubles; their spirits shall be lightsome when their outward condition is clouded. Sat lucis intus—There is light enough within. During the Egyptian darkness the Israelites had light in their dwellings. They shall be in due time, and perhaps when they least expect it, delivered out of their troubles; when the night is darkest the day dawns; nay, at evening-time, when night was looked for, it shall be light.

4. They shall have wisdom for the management of all their concerns, Ps. 112:5. He that does good with his estate shall, through the providence of God, increase it, not by miracle, but by his prudence: He shall guide his affairs with discretion, and his God instructs him to discretion and teaches him, Isa. 28:26. It is part of the character of a good man that he will use his discretion in managing his affairs, in getting and saving, that he may have to give. It may be understood of the affairs of his charity: He shows favour and lends; but then it is with discretion, that his charity may not be misplaced, that he may give to proper objects what is proper to be given and in due time and proportion. And it is part of the promise to him who thus uses discretion that God will give him more. Those who most use their wisdom see most of their need of it, and ask it of God, who has promised to give it liberally, Jas. 1:5. He will guide his words with judgment (so it is in the original); and there is nothing in which we have more occasion for wisdom than in the government of the tongue; blessed is he to whom God gives that wisdom.