His work is honorable and glorious: and his righteousness endures for ever.
(with Psalm 112:3): — These two psalms are obviously intended as a pair. They are identical in number of verses, and in structure, both being acrostic, that is to say, the first clause of each commences with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the second clause with the second, and so on. The general idea that runs through them is the likeness of the godly man to God. Worship is, or should be, adoration of and yearning after the highest conceivable good. Such an attitude must necessarily lead to imitation, and be crowned by resemblance. Love makes like, and they who worship God are bound to, and certainly will, in proportion to the ardour and sincerity of their devotion, grow like Him whom they adore.
I. IN ENDURING RIGHTEOUSNESS. That seems a bold thing to say, especially when we remember how lofty and transcendent were the Old Testament conceptions of the righteousness of God. But, lofty as these were, this psalmist lifts an unpresumptuous eye to the heavens, and having said of Him who dwells there: "His righteousness endureth for ever," is not afraid to turn to the humble worshipper on this low earth, and declare the same thing of him. Our finite, frail, feeble lives may be really conformed to the image of the heavenly. The dew-drop with its little rainbow is a miniature of the great arch that spans the earth and rises into the high heavens. And so, though there are differences, deep and impassable, between anything that can be called a creatural righteousness and that which bears the same name in the heavens, the fact that it does bear the same name is a guarantee to us that there is an essential resemblance between the righteousness of God in its lustrous perfectness and the righteousness of his child in its imperfect effort. Another psalmist has sung of the man who can stand in the holy place. "He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, even righteousness from the God of his salvation." And our psalms hint, if they do not articulately declare, how that reception is possible for us, when they set forth waiting upon God as the condition of being made like Him. We translate the psalmist's feeling after the higher truth which we know, when we desire "that we may be found in Him, not having our own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is of God by faith."
II. IN GRACIOUS COMPASSION. In the former psalm we read "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion"; in the latter we find "he" (the upright man) "is gracious and full of compassion, and righteous." Our hearts need something more than a righteous God if we are ever to worship and draw near. Just as the white snow on the high peak needs to be flushed with the roseate hue of the morning before it can become tender, and create longings, so the righteousness of the great White Throne has to be tinged with the ruddy heart hue of gracious compassion if men are to be moved to adore and to love. And each enhances the other. "What God hath joined together," in Himself, "let not man put asunder;" nor talk about the stern Deity of the Old Testament, and pit Him against the compassionate Father of the New. He is righteous, but the proclaimers of His righteousness in old days never forgot to blend with the righteousness the mercy; and the combination heightens the lustre of both the colours. And the same combination is absolutely needful in the copy, as is emphatically set forth in our text by the addition, in the ease of the man, of "and righteous." For whilst with God the two attributes do lie, side by side, in perfect harmony, in us men there is always danger that the one shall trench upon the territory of the other, and that, he who has cultivated the habit of looking upon sorrows and sins with compassion and tenderness shall somewhat lose the power of looking at them with righteousness. And so our text, in regard of man, proclaims more emphatically than it needs to do in regard to the perfect God, that ever his highest beauty of compassion must be wedded to righteousness, and ever his truest strength of righteousness must be knit with compassion. But, beyond that, note how, wherever there is the loving and childlike contemplation of God, there will be an analogy to His perfectness in our compassion. We are transformed by beholding. The sun strikes a poor little pane of glass in a cottage miles away, and it flashes with some .likeness of the sun and casts a light across the plain. The man whose face is turned Godwards will have beauty pass into his face, and all that look upon him will see "as it had been the countenance of an angel."
III. We have still another point, not so much of resemblance as of correspondence, IN THE FIRMNESS OF GOD'S UTTERANCES AND OF THE GODLY HEART. In the first of our two psalms we read, in the seventh verse, "all His commandments are sure." In the second we read, in the corresponding verse, "his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord." The former psalm goes on, "His commandments stand fast for ever and ever;" and the next psalm, in the corresponding verse, says "his heart is established," the original employing the same word in both cases, which in our version is rendered, in the one case "stand fast," and in the other "established." So that the psalmist is thinking of a correspondence between the stability of God's utterances and the stability of the heart that clasps them in faith. His commandments are not only precepts which enjoin duty. All which God says is law, whether it be directly in the nature of guiding precept, or whether it be in the nature of revealing truth, or whether it be in the nature of promise. It is sure, reliable, utterly trustworthy. We may be certain that it will direct us aright, that it will reveal to us absolute truth, that it will hold forth no flattering and false promises. And it is "established." The one fixed point amidst the whirl of things is the uttered will of God. Therefore the heart that builds there builds safely. And there should be a correspondence, whether there is or no, between the faithfulness of the Speaker and the faith of the hearer. Lean hard upon God, put all your weight upon Him. You cannot put too much, you cannot lean too hard. The harder the better, the better He is pleased, and the more He breathes support and strength into us.
(A. Maclaren, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever.