Psalm 111/The Great Deeps of the Covenant

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The Twelfth Decade of Psalms


Here is a straightforward psalm of praise, but we have to extend our arms all the way out to hold and carry what we are praising Him for. In order to wield this psalm rightly, we will have to beseech God to enlarge our hearts. Enlarge our hearts all the way out, so that we might learn how tiny they are. “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32). This was the source of Solomon’s wisdom (1 Kings 4:29), from botany to biology, from battle to business, and the apostle Paul thought in the same terms as well (2 Cor. 6: 11-13). Christians need to stop looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

The Text:

“Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever . . .”  (Ps. 111:1-10).

Summary of the Text:

God is to be praised, of course, but He is to be praised with a whole heart. When the heart is enlarged, the ego should not be. God must still have the entire heart. Further, this is to be done in the assembly of the upright (v. 1). God’s works are greatness stacked upon greatness, and those who have pleasure in Him have pleasure in them, and therefore are eager to study what He has done (v. 2). What we will find as a result of our study is honor, glory, and righteousness (v. 3). God did all this so that it would be remembered (v. 4), and He is gracious and full of compassion. He gives food to those who fear Him, and this is part of His covenantal faithfulness (v. 5). God has demonstrated the power of His works so that we might understand His purpose to give us the heritage of the heathen (v. 6). What He does with His hands is truth and judgments. What He does is the truth. His commands are certain and sure (v. 7). His commands aren’t going anywhere—they are forever, true and upright (v. 8). He sent redemption for His people, and again this is a matter of covenant faithfulness (v. 9). His name is holy and reverend. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, not the end of wisdom (v. 10). Obedience is the path to understanding—those who do what He says will know what He is saying. His praise is forever.

Sought Out by Those Who Have Pleasure:

If we follow the example of Solomon, and seek to have our hearts enlarged to understand more of the ways of God, we have to understand that this will make us hungry in every direction. Largeness of heart is not just for the big things. The God who throws galaxies as though they were grains of sand is also the God who engineered the jumping mechanism on a grasshopper. The God who inhabits eternity is also the God who has nicknames for every electron in the cosmos, and for every election in the most obscure asteroid.

This is the basis for science. It is the basis for history. It is the basis for theology. It is the basis for everything. Christians need to think as though the God they worship made everything, because that is exactly what He did. He is the true and living God. He is the Creator. He is the one in whom we live and move and have our being, and He is the one in whom everything has its being. God is the God of all the parts, but He is not god of a partial anything. That would mean He is no God at all.

It follows that we are allowed to be finite (which is a good thing), but we are not allowed to be bored or uninterested. You could go out in your backyard if you wanted to, and you could spend the rest of your life getting one PhD after another on the tiny happenings taking place on one blade of grass. 

The Heritage of the Heathen

We study the works of God because we love Him. God shows off for us so that we might study and marvel, so that we might be proud of our Father. And as we study and marvel, He gives to us the heritage of the heathen—He gives to us the heritage of those who are uninterested in the works of God, or who are interested in them only for the sake of denying that they have happened. Enlarge your heart, which will mean that you will enlarge your eyes. And when you enlarge your eyes, you will come to see that the phrase intelligent design can only be described as an overdone ridonkulous understatement.

Jesus is Lord, and this truth is to be understood both extensively and intensively. There is no place where He is not exhaustively authoritative. Jesus is Lord in all, over all, and through all. All science, all history, all philosophy, and all engineering. It all belongs to Him, and so we study His works in it. Whatever the heathen hold of it, they are only holding for a moment.

The Great Deeps of the Covenant

But remember that the greatest ocean, an ocean with immense depths, has places that are just under the surface. This psalm mentions God’s covenant keeping in two places (vv. 5, 9), and one of them is a plate with eggs, hash browns, and bacon.

When we receive our daily bread—which Jesus instructed us to pray for (Matt. 6: 11)—the answer to that prayer is a covenant blessing. I had a friend, a Baptist at the time, who once said that we Presbyterians were covenantal about everything. He said that it was like dealing with covenant peanut butter and covenant jelly. Had I only known my Bible well enough, I could have retorted with this verse. The terms of God’s covenant with us are all-encompassing, and extend to your breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is no place where you may go in order to stand outside God’s covenantal dealings with you. Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). The hairs of your head are all numbered. Because there is no part of your body that is unbaptized, there is hence no part of your life that may remain unsanctified. And anything that you touch, you must touch as a baptized Christian.

But this is only possible because the covenant is oceanic, and God’s tender mercies go all the way down. So consider the implications of verse 9. “He sent redemption unto his people: He hath commanded his covenant for ever: Holy and reverend is his name” (Ps. 111:9).

How is it that redemption has come to you? Your sins, which were dark and grimy, have all been cleansed and washed away. How did this thing happen? It happened because He sent redemption to His people. And how did He do this great thing? He commanded His covenant, and He commanded His covenant forever. But do not confuse this. Remember that the Lord Jesus showed us the identity of this covenant. This covenant has a name, and He was obedient, even to death on a cross. The Lord Jesus held up a cup and said that it contained the blood of the new covenant (Matt. 26:28). It was the wine of His blood, and so He is the covenant.

He sent redemption. He sent the covenant. He sent us Jesus.

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