Psalm 111:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) A good understanding . . .—Better, a good estimation have all they that do them. The parallelism here, as the context of Proverbs 3:4, decides for this rendering against that of the margin, “a good success.” Not only is piety the beginning of wisdom, but righteousness wins good esteem. For by his praise we must certainly understand the praise of the good man.

Psalm 111:10. The fear of the Lord — That is, piety, or true religion, which consists in the fear, or worship and service of God; is the beginning of wisdom — Is the only foundation of, and introduction to, all true wisdom: or, is the chief part, the first and principal point of wisdom. A good understanding have all they that do his commandments — That conscientiously walk according to them; for the practice of them, as Bishop Patrick observes, “gives men a better understanding of what is good for them, than any politic maxims can infuse into them.” His praise endureth for ever — Let the Lord be for ever praised, who hath given us these good and wholesome laws, and thereby shown us the way to eternal honour and happiness. But the Hebrew may be rendered, the praise of it, that is, of the wisdom and good understanding of those that fear the Lord, endureth, or standeth fast, as עמדת, signifies, for ever: this will procure them such a substantial happiness as they can never be deprived of, either in this world or the next. 111:1-10 The Lord is to be praised for his works. - The psalmist resolves to praise God himself. Our exhortations and our examples should agree together. He recommends the works of the Lord, as the proper subject, when we are praising him; and the dealings of his providence toward the world, the church, and particular persons. All the works of the Lord are spoken of as one, it is his work; so admirably do all the dispensations of his providence centre in one design. The works of God, humbly and diligently sought into, shall all be found just and holy. God's pardoning sin is the most wonderful of all his works, and ought to be remembered to his glory. He will ever be mindful of his covenant; he has ever been so, and he ever will be so. His works of providence were done according to the truth of the Divine promises and prophecies, and so were verity, or truth; and by him who has a right to dispose of the earth as he pleases, and so are judgment, or righteous: and this holds good of the work of grace upon the heart of man, ver. 7,8. All God's commandments are sure; all have been fulfilled by Christ, and remain with him for a rule of walk and conversation to us. He sent redemption unto his people, out of Egypt at first, and often afterwards; and these were typical of the great redemption, which in the fulness of time was to be wrought out by the Lord Jesus. Here his everlasting righteousness shines forth in union with his boundless mercy. No man is wise who does not fear the Lord; no man acts wisely except as influenced by that fear. This fear will lead to repentance, to faith in Christ, to watchfulness and obedience. Such persons are of a good understanding, however poor, unlearned, or despised.The fear of the Lord - Reverence for God; respect for his law, his will, his government, himself; the fear of offending him, which will lead us to do right. This fear is not that of a slave; it is not mere dread; it is not terror. It is consistent with love, and springs from it. It is consistent with calmness of mind, and promotes it. It does not produce terror, but rather delivers from it, and preserves the mind from alarms. The word here rendered "fear" is a noun of the same origin as the word rendered "reverend" in the previous verse. The suggestion to the mind of the psalmist that the "name of the Lord" was "reverend," or was to be venerated, introduced this thought that such reverence is the very foundation of wisdom.

Is the beginning of wisdom - The foundation, the origin, the commencement of being truly wise. It is so. There is no true wisdom which does not recognize the being, the perfections, and the claims of God. The highest wisdom - the most lofty endowment of man - is that he "may" know and honor God. This, in capability, makes him wise above the brute creation; this, in exercise, makes one man more wise than another; this, when it springs up in the soul, makes a man more wise than he was before - or, is the "beginning" of true wisdom in the soul. Compare Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Deuteronomy 4:6; Job 28:28; Ecclesiastes 12:13.

A good understanding ... - Margin, "good success." The original word - שׂכל śêkel - is rendered "understanding" (as here) in 1 Samuel 25:3; Ezra 8:18; Job 17:4; Proverbs 3:4; Proverbs 13:15; Proverbs 16:22; "wisdom" in 1 Chronicles 22:12; Proverbs 12:8; Proverbs 23:9; "prudence," 2 Chronicles 2:12; Proverbs 19:11 (margin); "sense," in Nehemiah 8:8; "knowledge," 2 Chronicles 30:22; and "policy" in Daniel 8:25. It "may" denote, therefore, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, success, prudence; and it is true in regard to "all" of these - for the fear of the Lord, or true religion, produces them "all." It is not necessary, therefore, to endeavor to ascertain precisely which of these is the meaning here.

That do his commandments - Margin, as in the Hebrew, "do them." That do the things connected with the fear of the Lord; that is, who obey God.

His praise endureth for ever - That is, the foundation for his praise endures to all eternity; or, is unchangeable. As God is always the same, so there is, as derived from his being and perfections, always the same foundation for praise. As there will always be created beings who can and will appreciate this, so it will be literally true, as it should be, that his praise "will" be celebrated forever.

10. And hence love and fear of such a God is the chief element of true wisdom (compare Pr 1:7; 9:10). 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." It is its first principle, but it is also its head and chief attainment. The word "beginning" in Scripture sometimes means the chief; and true religion is at once the first element of wisdom, and its chief fruit. To know God so as to walk aright before him is the greatest of all the applied sciences. Holy reverence of God leads us to praise him, and this is the point which the psalm drives at, for it is a wise act on the part of a creature towards his Creator. "A good understanding have all they that do his commandments." Obedience to God proves that our judgment is sound. Why should he not be obeyed? Does not reason itself claim obedience for the Lord of all? Only a man void of understanding will ever justify rebellion against the holy God. Practical godliness is the test of wisdom. Men may know and be very orthodox, they may talk and be very eloquent, they may speculate and be very profound; but the best proof of their intelligence must be found in their actually doing the will of the Lord. The former part of the Psalm taught us the doctrine of God's nature and character, by describing his works: the second part supplies the practical lesson by drawing the inference that to worship and obey him is the dictate of true wisdom. We joyfully own that it is so. "His praise endureth for ever." The praises of God will never cease, because his works will always excite adoration, and it will always be the wisdom of men to extol their glorious Lord. Some regard this sentence as referring to those who fear the Lord - their praise shall endure for ever: and, indeed, it is true that those who lead obedient lives shall obtain honour of the Lord, and commendations which will abide for ever. A word of approbation from the mouth of God will be a mede of honour which will outshine all the decorations which kings and emperors can bestow.

Lord, help us to study thy works, and henceforth to breathe out hallelujahs as long as we live.

The fear of the Lord; piety or true religion, which consists in the fear or worship and service of God.

Is the beginning of wisdom; is the only foundation of and introduction to all true wisdom. Or, is the chief part of wisdom; those things which are most excellent in their kinds being off said to be first, to wit; in dignity, as Numbers 24:20 Deu 18:4, &c., and in other authors. And the first command, Mark 12:28, is called the greatest command, Matthew 22:36.

That do his commandments, Heb. that do them, to wit, God’s commands, or the things which the fear of God requireth. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,.... The fear of the Lord, whose name is revered, is not a fear of his judgments here or hereafter, but of his goodness and grace; it is a reverential affection for him, a fiducial fear of him, a fear of offending so good a Being as he is; and it includes all religious worship of him, inward and outward, private and public; and at this true wisdom begins; a man begins to be wise when he fears the Lord, and not till then; this is his highest wisdom, and this is, as it may be rendered, "the chief of wisdom" (i), the principal part of it; see Proverbs 9:10.

A good understanding have all they that do his commandments; or "that do them" (k); the fear of the Lord and wisdom; that exercise them, that do as they oblige and direct to; so R. Moses in Aben Ezra connects the words; such have a good understanding of the Lord, know him as the object of their fear and reverence, and of their duty to him, and of their own interest, it being their wisdom to fear him; since by attending to their duty, to the word and ordinances of God, such arrive to a greater degree of knowledge and understanding of divine things. Some render it "good success (l)" or "prosperity", as Kimchi; such usually have prosperity in soul and body, in things temporal and spiritual; see Joshua 1:8.

His praise endureth for ever; or "its praise" (m); the praise of the fear of the Lord, of divine wisdom, and of a good understanding; just as of circumcision in the heart, Romans 2:29 or the praise of him that does the above things, that does the commandments of God, or acts under the fear of God, and as a wise man, 1 Corinthians 4:5 or rather the praise of God, which shall be given him by angels and men now and for evermore, as it ought to be; and to stir up to which is the design of the psalm throughout; and which men are encouraged to from the works and word of God, from his name, nature, and covenant, and from his blessings and acts of grace and goodness.

(i) "caput sapientiae", Junius & Tremellius; "vel praecipuum", Cocceius; "summa", Michaelis. (k) "facientibus ea", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremelilius, &c. (l) "successus optimus", Junius & Tremellius; so Ainsworth. (m) "quorum laus", Tigurine version; i.e. "uniuscujusque facientium", Gejerus, Michaelis.

{e} The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that {f} do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

(e) They only are wise who fear God and none have understanding but they who obey the word.

(f) That is, his commandment as in Ps 111:7.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom] The fundamental principle of the ‘Wisdom’ or religious philosophy of Israel (Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 1:7; Job 28:28; Sir 1:20). The A.V. reverend in Psalm 111:9 obscures the close connexion between this verse and Psalm 111:9. Jehovah has revealed Himself as One Who is to be feared; to fear Him therefore is the starting point of all true wisdom; and Psalms 112 developes the thought of the happiness of the man whose life is governed by this principle. In connexion with the attribute holy in Psalm 111:9 c it may be noted that Proverbs 9:10 adds, “and the knowledge of the Holy One is discernment.”

a good understanding] A.V. marg. good success, R.V. marg. good repute. The cognate verb often denotes success resulting from intelligence, and in Proverbs 3:4 the word approximates to the meaning repute, but it is best to retain the rendering understanding. Cp. Proverbs 13:15.

that do his commandments] Heb. that do them; i.e. all that is implied in the fear of Jehovah. Insight is the reward of obedience. Cp. John 7:17. R.V. restores Coverdale’s that do thereafter.

his praise standeth fast for ever] All the attributes of Jehovah which demand man’s praise are, like His righteousness (Psalm 111:3), eternal. Thus the Psalmist rounds off his song by returning to the thought with which he began it, and gives the reason for the Hallelujah prefixed to it.Verse 10. - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (comp. Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Ecclus. 1:16; and also Job 28:28). The meaning seems to be that "the beginning of wisdom is not found in keen insight, nor wide experience, nor the learn-hag of the schools, but in the temper of reverence and awe. The fear of the finite in the presence of the Infinite, of the sinful in the presence of the Holy, self-abhorring, adoring, as in Job's confession - this for the Israelite was the starting-point of all true wisdom" (Dean Plumptre). A good under standing have all they that do his commandments; literally, that do them; but the "commandments" of ver. 7 are, no doubt, intended. His praise endureth forever. The praise "of him," not "of it," as in the Prayer-book Version. As he had begun (ver. 1), so the psalmist ends, with Jehovah's praise.



That which the poet purposes doing in Psalm 111:1, he puts into execution from Psalm 111:2 onwards. ועדה, according to Psalm 64:7; Psalm 118:14, is equivalent to ועדתם. According to Psalm 111:10, הפציהם in Psalm 111:2 apparently signifies those who find pleasure in them (the works of God); but חפצי equals חפצי (like שׂמחי, Isaiah 24:7 equals שׂמחי) is less natural than that it should be the construct form of the plural of חפץ, that occurs in three instances, and there was no need for saying that those who make the works of God the object of their research are such as interest themselves in them. We are led to the right meaning by לכל־חפצו in 1 Kings 9:11 in comparison with Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 46:10, cf. Isaiah 53:10, where חפץ signifies God's purpose in accordance with His counsel: constantly searched into, and therefore a worthy object of research (דרשׁ, root דר, to seek to know by rubbing, and in general experimentally, cf. Arab. drâ of knowledge empirically acquired) according to all their aims, i.e., in all phases of that which they have in view. In Psalm 111:4 זכר points to the festival which propagates the remembrance of the deeds of God in the Mosaic age; טרף, Psalm 111:5, therefore points to the food provided for the Exodus, and to the Passover meal, together with the feast of unleavened bread, this memorial (זכּרון, Exodus 12:14) of the exemption in faithfulness to the covenant which was experienced in Egypt. This Psalm, says Luther, looks to me as though it had been composed for the festival of Easter. Even from the time of Theodoret and Augustine the thought of the Eucharist has been connected with Psalm 111:5 in the New Testament mind; and it is not without good reason that Psalm 111:1-10 has become the Psalm of the church at the celebration of the Lord's Supper. In connection with הגּיד one is reminded of the Pesach-Haggada. The deed of redemption which it relates has a power that continues in operation; for to the church of Jahve is assigned the victory not only over the peoples of Canaan, but over the whole world. The power of Jahve's deeds, which He has made known to His people, and which they tell over again among themselves, aims at giving them the inheritance of the peoples. The works of His hands are truth and right, for they are the realization of that which is true and which lasts and verifies itself, and of that which is right, that triumphantly maintains its ground. His ordinances are נאמנים (occasionally pointed נאמנים), established, attested, in themselves and in their results authorizing a firm confidence in their salutariness (cf. Psalm 19:8). סמוּכים, supported, stayed, viz., not outwardly, but in themselves, therefore imperturbable (cf. סמוּך used of the state of mind, Psalm 112:8; Isaiah 26:3). עשׂוּים, moulded, arranged, viz., on the part of God, "in truth, and upright;" ישׂר is accusative of the predicate (cf. Psalm 119:37), but without its being clear why it is not pointed וישׁר. If we have understood Psalm 111:4-6 correctly, then פּדוּת glances back at the deliverance out of Egypt. Upon this followed the ratification of the covenant on Sinai, which still remains inviolable down to the present time of the poet, and has the holiness and terribleness of the divine Name for a guarantee of its inviolability. The fear of Jahve, this holy and terrible God, is the beginning of wisdom - the motto of the Chokma in Job (Job 28:28) and Proverbs (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10), the Books of the Chokma. Psalm 111:10 goes on in this Proverbs-like strain: the fear of God, which manifests itself in obedience, is to those who practise them (the divine precepts, פקודים) שׂכל טּוב (Proverbs 13:15; Proverbs 3:4, cf. 2 Chronicles 30:22), a fine sagacity, praiseworthy discernment - such a (dutiful) one partakes of everlasting praise. It is true, in glancing back to Psalm 111:3, תּהלּתו seems to refer to God, but a glance forward to Psalm 112:3 shows that the praise of him who fears God is meant. The old observation therefore holds good: ubi haec ode desinit, sequens incipit (Bakius).
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