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Psalm 111:5-8

5. (ט, teth,) He hath given a portion to them that fear him: (י, yod,) He will remember his covenant for ever. 6. (כ, caph,) He hath declared to his people the power of his works, (ל, lamed,) To give the heritage of the heathen to them. 7. (מ, mem,) The works of his hands are truth and judgment; (נ, nun,) All his statutes are true. 8. (ס, samech,) They are established for ever, (ע, ain,) And are done in truth and righteousness.

 

5 He hath given a portion to them that fear him The Church being a mirror of the grace and justice of God, what the prophet said respecting them is here expressly applied to her; not that he designs to treat of the justice of God, in general, but only of that which he peculiarly displays towards his own people. Hence he adds, that God’s care of his people is such as to lead him to make ample provision for the supply of all their wants. The word טרף, tereph, which we have translated portion, is frequently taken for a prey: 339339     “Given meat — Heb., ‘Prey;’ i.e., food. Some think this refers to the manna rained upon Israel in the wilderness; we should rather think, to the quails. See Psalm 105:40.” — Williams. “טרף. This word is usually translated prey, and the passage is thought, by some, to refer to the spoiling of the Egyptians by the Israelites, mentioned in Exodus 12:36. It is, however, more probable that טרף signifies here food, and that allusion is made to the manna with which the children of Israel were fed in the wilderness. See Proverbs 31:15; Malachi 3:10. The first hemistich is the consequence of what is stated in the second; i.e., because God remembered his covenant, therefore he gave food to them who fear him.” — Phillips. others render it meat; but I rather choose to render it portion, in which sense it is taken in Proverbs 30:8, and Proverbs 31:15; as if he should say, that God had given his people all that was needful, and that, considered as a portion, it was large and liberal; for we know that the people of Israel were enriched, not in consequence of their own industry, but by the blessing of God, who, like the father of a family, bestows upon his household every thing necessary for their subsistence. In the following clause of the verse, he assigns as the reason for his care and kindness, his desire of effectually demonstrating that his covenant was not null and void. And here it must be carefully observed, that if, in former times, and from a respect to his gracious covenant, he manifested so great kindness towards the people of Israel, in like manner, the goodness which we receive from him is the result of our adoption into his family; and because God is never weary in showing kindness to his people, he says that the remembrance of his covenant shall never be effaced. Moreover, as he daily and constantly loads us with his benefits, so our faith must, in some measure, correspond with it: it must not fail, but must rise above life and death.

The next verse is subjoined, by way of exposition, for the purpose of showing that God, in bestowing upon his people the heritage of the heathen, had manifested to them the power of his works. He does indeed employ the term show, but he means a true showing; because the possession of the Holy Land was not acquired by mere human power, but it was given to them by Divine power, and through the working of many miracles; and thus God, as it were, openly testified to the descendants of Abraham with what incomparable power he is invested. It is on this account that he sets up the people of Israel as a match for so many other nations, who would assuredly never have vanquished so many enemies, unless they had been sustained from on high.

7 The works of his hands In the first clause of the verse he exclaims that God is known to be faithful and upright in his works, and then he goes on to extol the same truth and rectitude as pervading the doctrine of the law; the amount of which is, that a beautiful harmony characterises all the sayings and doings of God, because every where he shows himself to be just and faithful. We have a memorable proof of this fact in the redemption of his ancient people. Yet I doubt not, that, under the term, works, the prophet comprehends the constant government of the Church; because God daily and unceasingly shows that he is just and true, and unweariedly pursues the same course. Among men it is reckoned to be of more importance for one to be found just in practice than in profession; yet, as the doctrine of the law was the very life and safety of the people, the prophet very properly, and in several expressions, dwells upon the sentiment contained in the second clause of the verse; saying, all his statutes are true, they are established for ever, and are drawn up in perfect accordance with the strict law of truth and equity And assuredly, but for God’s having kept the people united to him by the sacred chain of the law, the fruit of their redemption would have been very small, and even that benefit would have soon been lost by them. We ought to observe, then, that this subject is brought prominently forward in this place; because, in attesting the eternal love of God, it became the means of imparting life.


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