Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
1 Praise ye the LORD.
Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD,
That delighteth greatly in his commandments.
2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth:
The generation of the upright shall be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches shall be in his house:
And his righteousness endureth forever.
4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness:
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
5 A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth:
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
6 Surely he shall not be moved forever:
The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.
7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings:
His heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.
8 His heart is established, he shall not be afraid,
Until he see his desire upon his enemies.
9 He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor;
His righteousness endureth forever;
His horn shall be exalted with honor.
10 The wicked shall see it, and be grieved;
He shall gnash with his teeth and melt away:
The desire of the wicked shall perish.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
CONTENTS AND COMPOSITION.—The servants of God, who are true to His covenant, are praised in this Psalm, as in the preceding, Jehovah was extolled as being true to the covenant. The connection between the two is so close, not merely in the choice and form of the stichs, but also in various expressions (comp. Psalm 112:3b and 9b with Ps. 111:3b and 9b) that the design is unmistakable. From the whole character of the Psalm, however, an imitation (De Wette), is rather to be inferred than a composition by the same poet. The Vulgate has an additional superscription, by which the composition is placed in the time of the return from the exile; but this statement is utterly worthless. [The Vulgate says: “Conversio Aggæi et Zachariæ.”—J. F. M.]
The praise of the pious man as blessed (Psalm 112:1) is followed by the promise of blessing to his race (Psalm 112:2) and to himself (Psalm 112:3), being compared to the rising of light in darkness (Psalm 112:4). To this follows the praise of the excellence of the pious man with reference to his kindness to his fellow-men, and its reward (Psalm 112:5), which is particularly described from different points of view (Psalm 112:6–8), and then the whole summed up (Psalm 112:9), with a glance at the opposite fortunes of the ungodly (Psalm 112:10). The Psalm immediately suggests to us Pss. 1 and 15.
Psalm 112:2. A hero upon the earth.—[E. V. mighty upon earth]. The expression is based upon Gen. 10:8. Its restriction to the sense: mighty, powerful (Sept. and others) and the translation: in the land are arbitrary. Its reference to the whole people and the promise of power to overcome the world, Deut. 33:29 (Hengst.), is equally unfounded. For although “his seed ” is parallel to “the generation of the upright,” yet the latter is not identical with the whole of Israel, (comp. Ps. 111:1). [The translation “mighty,” given in E. V. and favored by most, still appears to me to convey the true sense of the word. If the notion is more restricted than in the translation proposed above, the restriction is imposed by the original and more suitable sense. But the word is a substantive in the Hebrew: “a mighty one.” The conception of the power of the descendants of the righteous is made more vivid by the concrete form.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 112:3. The righteousness of the man is not his welfare as the reward of his righteousness (Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller), or as consisting in the good condition of his affairs (Köster). Nor is it merely fidelity to the covenant (Olshausen), and certainly not righteousness by faith in Christ (J. H. Mich.), or that presented by God (Hengst.) According to the Old Testament conception it means right conduct, agreeing inwardly and outwardly with the Divine requirements. The allusion to the preceding Psalm is here undeniable, but it is scarcely conceivable that what is there asserted of God is here unskillfully applied to man (De Wette, Hupfeld).
Psalm 112:4. The adjectives can be explained grammatically as epithets of the righteous (Kimchi, Ewald, Hengst.) only under extreme necessity, although this would very well agree in meaning with Isa. 58:7 ff. It is not probable that a meaningless formula in frequent use was transferred from Ps. 111:4 in order to find a place for the letter ח (Clericus, Köster, Maurer, Hupfeld). There is no reason why these epithets should not be viewed as defining the light (Isaaki, Aben Ezra, Calvin, Hitzig), or, still better, God, as the light, after Is. 10:17; 60:1 ff.; Mal. 3:20 (Sept., Vulg., Calv., J. H. Mich., De Wette, Olshausen, Delitzsch). But we must not, by inserting the prep. מִן, translate: from the gracious, etc. (Luth., Geier, and others). [Perowne, on the other hand, says: “The first two epithets, elsewhere applied only to Jehovah, are so applied in Ps. 111:3, and the relation of the two Psalms makes it almost certain, therefore, that they are here applied to His servants. See also Matth. 5:45–48; Isa. 58:7. The change from the plural to the singular is certainly unusually harsh, as the three epithets are loosely strung together without anything to mark their reference; but this may be accounted for, in some measure, by the requirements of the alphabetical arrangement.”—J. F. M.]
Psalm 112:5–7. טוֹב, according to the context, is not to be understood of moral excellence (the ancients) but of a prosperous life (expositors since Lud. de Dieu), as in Is. 3:10; Jer. 44:17. On account of the alphabetical order, we do not have the usual אַשְׁרֵי as in Psalm 112:1. But it does not follow from the parallelism that the second member of the verse continues to describe the situation of the man, as would be expressed in the translations: who conducts his affairs with justice (Geier, J. H. Mich.), or: feeds, that is, maintains them in a good condition (Hengst.) It is not a participle but a finite verb, and the assertions are justified in the following verses. [The rendering of Dr. Moll accordingly is: (“It is) well with the man who is benevolent and lends, he will maintain his cause in judgment.” This interpretation is that of Delitzsch, who translates a little more freely. With this Perowne also agrees. Alexander translates: “Happy the man showing favor and lending; he shall sustain his affairs by justice.” It is universally agreed that the idea “discretion,” as in E. V., is wrong.
[Psalm 112:7. Perowne: “The epithets ‘established,’ ‘trusting,’ ‘supported,’ are all strikingly descriptive of the true attitude of faith, as that which leans upon and is upheld by God. The two last are combined also in Is. 26:3.”—J. F. M.]
Psalm 112:10. In the last stich there is no sufficient reason for reading תִּקְוַת instead of תַּעֲוַת(Hupfeld, Olshausen). The former would give the idea of confidence, as in Ps. 9:19; Job 8:13; Prov. 10:28, comp. Prov. 10:24 (Hitzig).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The fear and the love of God are inseparably united, and have an internal connection, in the truly pious. The reward of this blessed and holy union is great. Its blessing extends to their descendants, and is powerfully displayed in themselves. Not only earthly prosperity, but a life well-pleasing to God, and the opportunity thereby gained of becoming a power on earth, and of exercising an influence that overcomes the world, form a mind, a position, and a greatness of action that are heroic. They are thus maintained as a blessing from God in pious generations, the light never failing to rise again even in the night of affliction.
2. The love of our neighbor is connected in the closest manner with love to God, and he who has experienced in himself and his family the mercy of the Eternal is both inclined and enabled to show mercy to others, and thereby gains a new support, strengthening his heart in God, widening his active influence among men, securing his happiness for all time; while the wicked are destroyed outwardly and inwardly, and go to ruin with their possessions and fortune, as well as with their efforts and aspirations.
[3. PEROWNE: All human righteousness has its root in the righteousness of God. It is not merely man striving to copy God; it is God’s gift and God’s work. There is a living connection between the righteousness of God and the righteousness of man, and therefore the imperishableness of the one pertains to the other also.—J. F. M.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
How the fear of God not only expels all other fear, but also fills the truly pious with joy, love, and life.—The delight, the suffering, the light of the pious.—The blessing of God abiding in a pious generation.—Even for those who fear God, it is not uninterrupted day upon earth; but a light never fails them.—The fear of God begets power and courage.—Fear of God and love to our neighbor are closely united when men take delight in God’s commands.—The prosperity of the pious increases continually. Whoever is vexed at it reveals the wickedness of his heart, and injures himself more than any other.
STARKE: Delight in God’s word is manifested specially in a life regulated in accordance therewith.—The fear of God in many a pious father’s heart is rewarded in his children even after his death.—He who would share in the blessings of pious ancestors must follow after their faith.—All creatures favor those whom God favors: the blessings given to them fall to the lot of the pious.—To pursue righteousness and the fear of God is the true way to gain a name that will be truly immortal.—A joyful, fearless heart, and a good conscience, are the happy fruits of the true fear of God.—Our works of love have two good qualities, if we perform them abundantly and generously, and are not wearied in them. An abundant and eternal reward will follow them both from the divine mercy.—A pious man is a sharp thorn in the eyes of the ungodly, and yet they cannot injure him. They only injure themselves; for they shorten their lives by envy and vexation.
SELNECKER: Those who trust in God shall receive rich blessings, and shall want nothing, even though in the world it may seem otherwise. FRISCH: The true sign of a God-fearing and consequently happy man is the delight, and that a great delight, which he has in God’s commandments.—RIEGER: A cheerful heart which is sustained by constant application to God’s word, by ever-renewed meditation upon His ways, and by frequent resort to Him, profits more than all other resources.—DIEDRICH: The devil lies to his servants; but God rewards those who risk everything upon His word with perfect faithfulness and eternally.—GUENTHER: The prosperous and blessed life of the righteous is here presented; but its inner nature is exhibited as well as its outward signs.—TAUBE: The final lot decides; the cry sounds forth: live, perish.
[MATT. HENRY: Religion has been the raising of many a family; if not so as to advance it high, yet so as to found it firm.—BARNES: Surely there is an advantage in our world in being a friend of God.—J. F. M.]
Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.