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Psalms 111:1-10 - Homilies By S. Conway

The works of the Lord.

This is the theme of the psalm. These works are named six times in this short psalm. They are the occasion and cause of the fervent praise, and exhortation to praise, with which the psalm begins. It is one of the nine alphabetical psalms; that is, psalms so arranged for aiding the memory. Psalms 119:1-176 . is the most conspicuous instance of this. In the psalm before us the alphabet is not complete. An interesting and instructive study is to reproduce in English this same structure, being careful not to alter the sense. It has often been done. The psalm opens with a summons to all to praise the Lord, and declares the psalmist's purpose to do so himself, both amongst those who sympathized with him—"the assembly of the upright"—and amongst those, many of whom did not—"the congregation." It is easy to praise the Lord amongst people who are all of the same mind as ourselves, but not so easy where there is indifference or hostility. But the psalmist declares that amid both he will praise the Lord. And the inspiration of his praise is the works of the Lord. He makes six affirmations concerning them.

I. THEY ARE GREAT . ( Psalms 119:2 .) There can be no question as to this, whatever true test of greatness we adopt—motives, methods, spirit, results. Especially is this true of God's chief work in the redemption of man by our Lord Jesus Christ. But it is true everywhere, in nature, providence, grace. The question for us to consider is—Are they great to us? Too many men despise them, "make light of it."

II. " SOUGHT OUT OF ALL THEM THAT HAVE PLEASURE THEREIN ." Those who have pleasure in any study are the first to welcome any fresh light on their particular department of inquiry. And so in regard to the work of God in our own souls; if we know that work truly, then the study of like work of God will ever be pleasing to us. If we do not care for such study, it is an argument to prove not only that we have no pleasure, but also no part therein. Thus may we test ourselves.

III. " HONORABLE AND GLORIOUS ." ( Psalms 119:3 .) This is how God's works may ever be recognized. What is otherwise is not his work. It is as the psalmist here affirms, both in regard to God and man, in regard to righteousness and mercy alike. The motive from which it sprang, the manner in which it was accomplished, and the result that follows, all deserve the praise here given.


1. This is so in regard to his work of mercy . Probably some great manifestation of God's grace led to this psalm. But especially God's great work of mercy in Christ—that is remembered and told of everywhere.

2. And so in regard to his judgment-work . Such as the Flood, the overthrow of Pharaoh at the Red Sea, the fall of Jerusalem, and other such awful displays of God's judgment. Because the Lord is gracious and full of compassion, he makes them to be remembered, that so we may not bring like judgment on ourselves.

3. His work of grace . If that has been done in our soul, we can never forget it.

V. THE POWER OF THEM HE HATH SHOWED TO HIS PEOPLE . ( Psalms 119:6 .) The Divine power, that they may have strong confidence in God, and go courageously forward to possess the heritage of the heathen.

VI. THEY ARE WORKS OF VERITY AND JUDGMENT . There is no crooked, insincere policy about them, no lack of righteousness or equity. Let our works be as his.—S.C.

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