Works, Words, and Wisdom—Divine and Human

Psalm 111

by William D. Barrick

Commencement Address—Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

May 12, 2016

 

Introduction

  • A professor had just finished the final lecture for his introductory course in philosophy. One of the students said, “You have knocked a hole in everything I’ve ever believed in, and you have given me nothing to take its place.” The professor replied, “You will recall that among the labors of Hercules he was required to clean out the Augean stables. He was not, let me point out, required to fill them.”—Clifton Fadiman, ed., The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1985), 133.
  • Therein lies a huge difference between philosophy and theology—we replace man’s ignorance with God’s wisdom through His Word.
  • First of three consecutive Hallelujah psalms (111, 112, 113). All three psalms begin with “Hallelujah”; Psalm 113 also ends with “Hallelujah,” effectively bracketing all three into one group.
  • Acrostic psalm (also, Ps 112)—“a student’s psalm”—William Varner, Awake O Harp (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Biblical Resources, 2011), 283.
  • Psalm 111 focuses on the works of God, but Psalm 112 describes the works of the godly person. A number of similarities tie these two psalms together.
  • Traditional psalm for Lord’s Supper (time of remembrance—v. 4). In this commencement we take time to remember the accomplishments of the graduates and the 33-year service at DBTS of a retiring professor of Old Testament, Dr. Robert McCabe.

I.  Worshipping the LORD is imperative for our hearts (v. 1). The essence of worship consists of celebrating God, His works, and His Word.

A.  We must praise the LORD (1a).

B.  We must engage our entire being in His worship (1b). See Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” This is the first of the two greatest commandments—the commandments which summarize all of the Law and the prophets, according to Jesus (Matthew 22:36–40).

C.  We must worship Him corporately (1c)—come together by agreement and obedience to fellowship.

II.  Knowing the LORD’s works must occupy our minds (vv. 2–6).

A.  We must delight in studying the LORD’s works (2).

B.  Through His works we must learn of His enduring righteousness (3).

C.  Through His wonders we must remember (proclaim) His grace and compassion (4). See Exodus 34:6–7, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.”

D.  We must fear the LORD to experience His covenant blessings (5).

E.  We must receive from Him the knowledge of the power of His works (6). See Romans 1:20, “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.”

III.  Obeying the LORD’s Word must reflect His attributes (vv. 7–9).

A.  Truth, justice, and trustworthiness characterize the LORD’s Word (7).

B.  Truth, justice, and trustworthiness characterize those who obey His Word (8).

C.  Through redemption and covenant the LORD reveals holiness and inspires reverence (9).

IV.  Fearing the LORD produces wisdom, understanding, and praise (v. 10).

A.  We must fear the LORD (10a).

Prov 1:7 + “Fools despise wisdom and instruction”

Prov 9:10 + “And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”

Prov 15:33 + “And before honor comes humility”

Job 28:28 “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding”

Eccl 12:13 “fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person”

B.  We must do His Word (10b)—God’s works become our works (see Ps 112). See James 1:22, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves”—indeed, we should never be just readers, hearers, preachers, or teachers of God’s Word, but doers.

C.  We must praise Him always and forever (10c).

Conclusion

  • Now we can see “the student’s psalm”: Varner outlines it thus:
    1. Start with worship (v. 1).
    2. Study God’s works (vv. 2–6).
    3. Study God’s Word (vv. 7–9).
    4. Obey what you study (v. 10).
  • Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101–150, WBC 21 (Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher, 1983), 93 said that this psalm is the Old Testament counterpart of Romans 5:1–11. Christ died that He might justify us so that through tribulation we might exult in Him, persevere, develop proven character, and hope without disappointment.
  • If we obey what we know in Scripture, we will come to understand what we don’t know in Scripture and we will reflect more of God’s character in our lives.
  • “What comes from the Lord because it is impossible for humans to manufacture it? Wisdom. What comes from humans because it is impossible for the Lord to experience it? Worry. What is it that brings wisdom and dispels worry? Worship.” (Charles Swindoll, The Quest for Character)
  • When it comes to worshipping our God, we can do the following:
    1. Come to God’s Word—and listen.
    2. Be quiet—stay calm within our hearts and minds, no matter our circumstances.
    3. Commit yourself to obey God’s Word—remember, God does not forget!
    4. Don’t decide now and deny your commitment at a later date—God does not ignore our decisions!

 

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