New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 112:1

Praise Yah!-
Here we have another example of Psalms being paired, this time with Ps. 111. Both are alphabetic Psalms; both begin with "Hallelujah" and have twenty lines, divided into ten verses. It is part of the "Hallel Psalms" (Ps. 111-118), chants sung at the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, which consist of Psalms 113-118.

Blessed is the man who fears Yahweh, who delights greatly in His commandments-
This appears to follow on from the conclusion of Ps. 111:10, speaking of the person obedient to Yahweh's commands. That Psalm has stressed God's faithfulness to His covenant, and I suggested the reference was to that with Abraham, the new covenant. Those promises speak of blessing, but that blessing was to come upon the person who fears Yahweh by delighting in His commandments. For they are the true seed of Abraham. The fear of God is therefore not so much referring to a fear of the consequence of our sins; but the fear or reverence expressed through keeping His commandments (see on Ps. 112:1). 

Psa 112:2

His seed will be mighty in the land, the generation of the upright will be blessed-
This continues the allusion to the promises to Abraham; his seed would eternally inherit the land, which was the blessing promised to Abraham. The "mighty in the land" or eretz promised to Abraham had been the likes of the "giants" of Gen. 6:4; Nimrod / Assyria (Gen. 10:8); Babylon (Gen. 46:12) and indeed all the Gentile nations of the eretz (Ez. 32:27); but the hope of the promises to Abraham was and is that "his seed will be mighty in the land" (Ps. 112:2). There is to be a radical inversion of all things upon the earth.

Psa 112:3

Wealth and riches are in His house; His righteousness endures forever-
There is a purposeful ambiguity here, as to whether "his house... his righteousness" refers to God or to the seed of Abraham which is the immediate context in :2. This is because God's righteousness and generous distribution of His wealth is to be reflected in that of His children, the seed of Abraham. See on :9.

Psa 112:4

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright, gracious, merciful, and righteous-
The rest of the Psalm appears to refer to the final judgment of the generous and gracious as opposed to the wicked. The light that dawns in darkness would therefore refer to the final day of resurrection, when the promises to Abraham's seed are finally and eternally fulfilled (:2). "Upright, gracious and merciful" are the characteristics of the Yahweh Name as proclaimed to Moses in Ex. 34:5-7. The righteous are therefore those who have manifested that Name in their own characters. The parallel Ps. 111:2-5,7,9 speak of these characteristics as being those of the Yahweh Name; but here they are applied to God's true people. In this lies the significance of our baptism into the Name; that righteousness is counted to us, and we are to live according to the status we have been given by grace through faith. Light arising in the darkness is the language of creation (Gen. 1:4 etc.); the resurrection will be the new creation without sin or the possibility of falling. Death is a departure from light to darkness (Job 18:18). Here we have the opposite, from darkness to light, implying resurrection at the last day (cp. Mic. 7:8).

Psa 112:5

It is well with the man who deals graciously and lends; he will maintain his cause in judgment-
The need to be generous as God is generous and gracious is brought to a climax in :9. See on :2. As noted on :4, what is in view is the last judgment. Those who have been gracious will have their case upheld; what solely matters is that God's people have believed in His grace. But faith in that grace will naturally elicit a life of graciousness to others. This is not the same as teaching salvation by works. The Lord's parables likewise make it apparent that the judgment will consider how we have treated others. It is never presented as a theological examination. It is how we have articulated grace to others which is and shall ever be the all important issue.

Psa 112:6

For he will never be shaken-
"He will never be shaken" is spoken in Ps. 112:6 in the context of the outcome of the final judgment. Being unmoved or never shaken is a major theme of the Psalms of David. Human beings naturally seek for stability, but look for it in the wrong places, imagining that their idols shall never be shaken (s.w. Is. 40:20; 41:7). It is only the receipt of eternal salvation at the last day which means we shall never be moved; that is the only ultimate stability (Ps. 62:2,6 s.w.). Their stability will be associated with that of God's eternal Kingdom to be centered upon Zion (s.w. Ps. 125:1). For in secular life under the sun, the righteous do suffer and their lives are "shaken". Solomon's statements that the righteous shall never be shaken / moved (Prov. 10:30; 12:3) are only ultimately true in this sense; but whether he spoke them with that understanding is debatable.   

The righteous will be remembered forever-
Again, we clearly have the last judgment in view, when the righteous will be immortalized and remembered forever. The idea of remembrance or memorialization is appropriate to the Yahweh Name. In the parallel Ps. 111:4, it is the Name of Yahweh which is eternally remembered; here the righteous are eternally remembered- because they are identified with the Name of Yahweh, showing His characteristics. Which supremely are summarized in "grace"; see on :5. 

Psa 112:7

He will not be afraid of evil news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in Yahweh-
The stability of knowing that we shall be saved eternally means that we likewise can respond to "evil news" with a steadfast heart. The phrase "evil news" is only used elsewhere in Jer. 49:23 about the news of Divine condemnation and judgment. The fact some will be condemned at the last day will not shake our heart, because we trust in Yahweh's grace. 

David had earlier understood that for the humble and righteous, God can "prepare their heart" (Ps. 10:17). This is evidence enough that God works directly upon the human heart and psychology, which He does today through the work of His Spirit upon the human spirit. For it is men who must prepare their heart in prayer and relationship toward God (s.w. 2 Chron. 12:14; Job 11:13; Ps. 7:9). But God can also do this for the humble. Hence David later asks God to create in him a 'prepared' heart (s.w. Ps. 51:10). And God heard; for the same phrase is used of how God 'prepared' or (AV) "fixed" / NEV 'made steadfast' his heart (Ps. 57:7; 108:1; 112:7). In allusion to this, Solomon was to later reflect that God can direct or 'prepare' (s.w.) the heart of man, even if he is thinking to direct his steps elsewhere (Prov. 16:9).

Psa 112:8

His heart is established; he will not be afraid in the end when he sees his adversaries-
"The end" in view is the day of resurrection and judgment. In that day, the righteous such as David will not need to fear their adversaries like Saul when they meet them again. The idea of the heart of the righteous being established or stable at the day of judgment is alluded to in several New Testament passages (2 Thess. 2:17; 3:3; Heb. 13:9; 1 Pet. 5:10).

Psa 112:9

He has dispersed, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever-
God's generosity is a pattern to us. Thus the words "He has dispersed abroad; he has given to the poor" are used in 2 Cor. 9:9,10 about God; and in Ps. 112:9 about the generosity of the believer. There is a purposeful ambiguity here, as to whether "he has dispersed... his righteousness" refers to God or to the righteous, which is the immediate context in :8. This is because God's righteousness and generous distribution of His wealth is to be reflected in that of His children, the seed of Abraham. See on :3.

This passage is the equivalent of Ps. 111:3,5, which is a parallel Psalm. Ps. 111:5 defines God's 'dispersal to the poor' as being in terms of food and basic sustenance. God's gift of food is a reflection of His covenant relationship with His people to whom He gives food. This forms part of His eternal righteousness (Ps. 111:3); and Paul is telling the Corinthians that they ought to likewise be generous to those in the covenant who were lacking food. The immediate reference is to God's provision of food to the people in the wilderness, who were to then receive the promised land (Ps. 111:6); appropriate for a Passover Psalm (see on :1). And this is likewise used by Paul in the same section in appealing for generosity to those who lack the ability to go out and gather the manna (2 Cor. 8:15). 

"His righteousness endures forever" is alluded to in 2 Cor. 9:9- in the context of arguing that God's "righteousness" is shown in His generosity to others, which we should follow. This is His majestic work; see on Ps. 111:5.

His horn will be exalted with honour-
The glorification  / honour of the gracious / generous is not seen in this life. But it will occur at the time of :10- when the wicked will be resurrected to see it, and will gnash their teeth, which is the language of the last judgment.

Psa 112:10

The wicked will see it, and be grieved. He shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away. The desire of the wicked will perish- Gnashing of teeth is the language of condemnation at the last day (Mt. 8:12 etc.). But those thus condemned will have gnashed their teeth at their brethren in this life (Ps. 35:16; 37:12). By doing so, they are living out their own condemnation. The rejected 'melting away' from the throne of the Lord Jesus is a repeated Biblical picture. 1 Jn. 2:28 speaks of them as being "ashamed from before him at his coming", the Greek suggesting the idea of slinking away in shame. Another foretaste of this was in the way the condemned world of Noah’s time [the flood was a clear type of the final judgment] were to ‘pine away / languish’ (Gen. 6:17; 7:21- AV “die”). The wicked will melt away from the Lord's presence (Ps. 68:2). Rejected Israel are described as being "ashamed away" (Joel 1:12)- the same idea. This is the idea behind Heb. 12:15 RVmg: "…man that falleth back from the grace of God". Note that Jesus Himself will be likewise ashamed of His unworthy followers (Lk. 9:26); there will be a mutuality in the natural distancing between the two parties. This is the scene of Rev. 16:15- the rejected being made naked in shame. This slinking back in shame will fulfil the prophecies of Is. 1:24,29 and Jer. 2:35,36, which speak of the rejected being made ashamed, becoming ashamed, of their idols They will be made ashamed by the judgment process. Thus we have the picture of them initially arguing with Jesus, growing less and less forcible, giving way to a pleading with tears for a change of mind, finally followed by a silent slinking away in shame. There seems a certain similarity between this and how the combined Gospel records imply that men initially mocked Jesus on the cross, and then eventually slipped away in silence (Heb. 6:6). Adam attempted to hide from God's presence, the Hebrew implying 'to drawn oneself back'. Judas went away (Gk. he retired away) to try to hang himself, once he knew his condemnation (Mt. 27:3-5). Speechlessness is a characteristic of the rejected (Mt. 22:12); the brothers slunk away from Joseph's physical presence (Gen. 45:4), as the rejected will.