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Alphabetic Psalm = each verse starts with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet

(cf. Story told by daughter just starting at Univ. of Richmond: fellow student commented: “Isn’t Rousseau French? But he wrote in such excellent English!” No concept of the work of translation. Sometimes we miss some of the subtleties that created extra beauty in the original language.)

Companion Psalm to 112 which we will study next week

  • 111 – focus is on praising God for Himself — His great works and what we can then learn about His character

  • 112 – focus is on praising God for all of the blessings that flow to those who fear Him

Both are alphabetic psalms

The themes and even the phrasing run parallel through the 10 verses of each


A. Praise for the Lord is Always Appropriate

“Praise the Lord”

Hallelujah! – to shine, to flash forth the light; praise; honor

Not some meaningless repetition of a ma ntra under your breath

B. Praise Involves Giving Thanks

“I will give thanks to the Lord”

Thanksgiving solves a lot of ills

Wiersbe: Praise takes the selfishness out of our lives. It takes us away from idolatry, from living on substitutes.

C. Praise and Thanks must Originate from the Heart

“with all my heart ” — my inner man

the Lord is not fooled by external worship; by the hypocrisy of religious rites

Is. 29:13-14 “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their heart far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.”

contrast the type of rejected worship offered up by Israel in the OT

Amos 5:21-24 “I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

contrast the type of self righteous worship offered up by the Pharisees

look at David – the writer of many of the psalms = a man after God’s own heart –

specialized in heartfelt worship

Are we passionate and sincere about our worship? Or do we come half- hearted?

Application: heartfelt worship not set in contrast to intelligent worship – God knows nothing of mindless, emotional worship

D. Praise must be Voiced Publicly Among God’s People

(not just a private matter)

1. “in the company of the upright” – circle of more intimate friends

2. “in the assembly” – congregation, gathering

We come to together to worship God; not to primarily have our needs met; God has already met our deepest needs; we need to trust Him and praise Him for what He has already done; we need the application of His great works to our life – not in desperate need for new miracles

Application: We need to give people an opportunity to praise the Lord; brings up problem issues

– don’t want women teaching –

Context of 1 Cor. 14 is primarily oriented around edification rather than praise – that is where women are commanded to keep silent in the church

– don’t want certain personality types to dominate

– don’t want long-winded rabbit trails

– don’t want periods of uncomfortable silence or don’t want to pressure people

But we want the Lord to receive the praise publicly due to Him – saw example in church we visited on our retreat

Why don’t churches allow for this?? Become so big it is not practical; people don’t even know one another

This is one reason it is a sin to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (not talking about those with health limitations where they are unable to assemble)

It is a sin to rob God of the praise that is due Him

It is a sin of idolatry to substitute anything else for God in our affections and thereby give our emotional praise to that idol


A. The Works of the Lord – Recognized as Great

“Great are the works of the Lord”

Part of the greatness of God at work in Creation –

Psalm 19 “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge”

Psalm 8 “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed your splendor above the heavens”

The wicked refuses the clear testimony of God’s greatness in creation:

Rom. 1:18-20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse”

Greatness of God also at work in His providential outworking of His plan for History as well as His plan to care for His people

Greatness of God especially evidenced in His salvation and sanctification of His children

“Works of the Lord”

– Ex. 32:16 – tablets of the Law

– Ex. 34:10 – miracles in delivering people from Pharaoh

– Deut. 11:1-7

– Josh 24:31

– Judges 2:7

Great in what sense?

– great in number

– great in magnitude and extent and intensity

– scope

– variety

– design – in terms of what they are intended to do; in importance

– effect – in terms of what they accomplish

B. The Works of the Lord – Relished as Great

“They are studied by all who delight in them.” –

because more in them than meets the eye just on the surface treatment

Deut. 4:20; 13:15; 19:18

1. Diligent Study – investigate, study, seek with care, inquire of the Lord


– effort, energy

– expense

– equipment

– endurance

Cf. study of those professionals in other disciplines

  • Doctor – should certainly see the greatness of the works of the Lord in his examination of the human body

  • Scientists

  • Archaeologists

2. Delightful Study (not burdensome)

Look at how much time people devote to their hobbies … Why?? Nobody is making them invest time in improving their golf game or learning how to cook more exotic dishes …. They have a love and a passion for that hobby

Piper – his emphasis on delighting in the Lord

Blaise Pascal “Human things must be known to be loved, but divine things must be loved to be known. ”


“awe” = emotion in which dread, veneration and wonder are variously intermingled –

wondering reverence tingled with fear inspired by the sublime

Lots of allusions to the Abrahamic Covenant in this section


Look at 3 Areas:

– Historical Context of Israel – especially related to the Exodus

– Cross of Jesus Christ

– Illustrations from our own experience

1. (:3) Awesome in Royal Righteousness

“Splendid and majestic is His work ”

“And His righteousness endures forever”

Usually power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely; not so with the reign of the Righteous Branch of David

VanGemeren: The word “righteousness” refers to God’s orderly rule over creation, his victorious rule over the nations, and his redemption of his own

  • Reflect on how the Righteous Judge did what was right in delivering Abraham and Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:19-25)

  • Reflect on how God manifested His majestic righteousness in delivering His people from the harsh bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt

– sent them all types of signs of judgment

– then delivered His covenant people and destroyed the Egyptian pursuers

[this pair of psalms possibly recited at the eating of the Passover Lamb each year]

  • recall song of Moses celebrating God’s righteous reign –

Exod. 15:6,11, 18 “Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power . . . Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders? . . .the Lord shall reign forever and ever”

  • Reflect on how God demonstrated his royal righteousness at the cross of Jesus Christ – making it possible for God to remain just and still the justifier of those who would put their faith in Him .. the message of the gospel of God’s righteousness is spelled out in great detail in the Book of Romans – (1:17) “in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith”

  • Reflect on how God has performed His splendid and majestic work in your own life in rescuing you from the kingdom of Satan and transforming you into His royal family of majestic righteousness

2. (:4) Awesome in Memorable Grace

“He has made His wonders to be remembered”

Hebrew: “He has made His remembrance to be marvelled at”

Extraordinary, surpassing, beyond our power; difficult to understand

Important to pass down this legacy from generation to generation

Lord has built up a remarkable reputation

Wiersbe: As Abraham went from place to place, he left behind altars and wells as memorials that God had brought him that way, and the Jewish nation left “memorial stones” after they entered Canaan (Josh. 4:1-7). Jewish parents were commanded to teach their children the meaning of the special days and the memorial stones (Exo. 13:3- 10; Deut. 6:4-9; Josh. 4:4-7). There are no “sacred places” where God dwells in some unique way, but there are special places where God can bring edifying memories to mind that will help us remember His greatness and grace.

Awesome in Tender-Heartedness

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate”

All of God’s people should be reproducing this important trait – will be the focus next week as we study Psalm 112; we are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ;

must study His life to see How gracious and compassionate He is

His grace goes so far beyond anything we could expect or imagine – surprising

Psalm 136 – Lord’s goodness to Israel — refrain: “His lovingkindness is everlasting”

What type of memorials of God’s Grace have you established for your family?

3. (:5) Awesome in Promised Provision — Generous and Sufficient Provision for Promised Material Needs

“He has given food to those who fear Him”

  • Physical = spoils in going out from Egypt and manna in wilderness

  • Spiritual = Bread of Life

One of the many names of God = El Shaddai –

Even gives food to the birds who have no consciousness of His provision; How much more we can trust His provision; no excuse for Anxiety or for hoarding worldly riches for our own security

Psalm 37:25; Matt. 6:33

MacArthur: God’s faithfulness in providing food for Jacob through Joseph (Ge 37-50)

“He will remember His covenant forever”

Amill camp better take a strong look at this characteristic of God; There are so many detailed promises made to the nation of Israel – God does not want us to give up on these or try to help Him out by spiritualizing them and applying them to the church instead

How has God provided for you and your family?

4. (:6) Awesome in Providential Power– make conspicuous, declare, proclaim, publish

“He has made known to His people the power of His works”

This is not power manifested for the sake of showing off; this is power channeled into purposeful acts to benefit His people; that is why God does not always perform miracles; He has specific purposes to accomplish

God’s people get the revelatory benefit of His power; the unsaved don’t get the message; look at hard-hearted Pharaoh – who saw more of God’s power than this great earthly sovereign – yet it did him no good – his army was wiped out in the Red Sea – the same power that preserved God’s elect, destroyed God’s enemies

Accomplishing the Impossible

“In giving them the heritage of the nations”

What seems impossible in your life; where does God want to show Himself strong? God had promised Abraham to make the nation like the stars of the sky (Ge 15:5)

Conquest of the land seemed impossible – great walled cities; we seemed like grasshoppers

* * * * chiastic arrangement of vs. 7-8 A / B / B / A

How has God shown you His providential power?

5. (:7a, 8b) Awesome in Truthful Integrity

“The works of His hands are truth and justice”

“They are performed in truth and uprightness”

No hidden agenda; no manipulation; no deception; no corruption;

God cannot be bribed; God cannot be accused of any unfairness

Total Integrity and Truthfulness and Justice

6. (:7b, 8a) Awesome in Reliable Revelation (closely tied to Faithfulness)

“All His precepts are sure”

“They are upheld forever and ever” – supported, sustained – something you can lean on

“Sure” — Confirmed, faithful, established, verified, reliable

You can count on whatever God has spoken and revealed; His Word is certain

* * * *

7. (:9) Awesome in Sovereign Redemption

“He has sent redemption to His people”

– Redeemed out of Egypt

– Redeemed at the Cross of Christ

– Redeemed in your personal experience

Awesome in Sovereign Execution of His Eternal Plans

“He has ordained His covenant forever”

Summary (:9c) Awesome in Holiness of Character

Truthful Integrity

Reliable Revelation

Sovereign Redemption

Summary: Holiness of Character


“Holy and awesome is His name”

All other verses had 2 phrases; this third phrase is a summary; a crescendo

All other references were tied to some aspect of the greatness of God’s works – by which we see how awesome He is and worthy of praise; here we look at His name itself; His character

Wiersbe: The word “reverend” is usually applied to the clergy, but there is no biblical basis for this … To the Jewish people, God’s name was so awesome that they would not speak the name “Jehovah” but substituted “Adonai” lest they would inadvertently blaspheme His holy name.


A. Foundation of Wisdom and Worship = the Fear of the Lord

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”

it is certainly the beginning of Wisdom which is what we need to properly reflect on the character of God, to appreciate His awesome works, and to respond with heartfelt Worship

B. Obedience = Key to Discernment and Worship

“A good understanding have all those who do His commandments”

Obedience is the key to maintaining that proper attitude of the fear of the Lord and thus being continually blessed with more and more wisdom and understanding

C. Eternal Value of Praise

“His praise endures forever”

Forever = a long time; what else can we participate in that has eternal value?

Steve Zeisler: Now, the NIV says, “To him belongs eternal praise,” but that is slightly misleading. It is true that he will always deserve praise, but that isn’t the point the psalmist is making here. The point is that when his praise is uttered from the heart, it lasts forever. A shout in a cave does not vanish into the air as quickly as a shout made in an open field. It echoes and lasts longer as a result. This verse suggests that, in some sense, genuine praise never “vanishes from the air,” becoming instead part of an everlasting song offered by the creation to the Creator. So Praise starts with the Fear of the Lord and it never Ends!


  • Royal Righteousness

  • Memorable Grace

  • Promised Provision

  • Providential Power