connections

In Psalm 111, it says, the Lord “has made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious, and full of compassion.”

A question:
What is the link between the two statements? Does the psalmist exclaim over the grace of the Lord as an effect of remembering the Lord’s works? Or is it because the Lord is gracious that he has made his works to be remembered?

(Or does it matter?)

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10 thoughts on “connections

  1. I think it works in both directions. Taking what the Bible says about God as a whole, both are included: our gracious God has made His works in order that His creatures may remember them (and, through them, Him); and we, the creatures, can magnify God and His grace as we remember His gracious works. Large portions of both the Book of Job and the Book of Psalms are devoted to retailing God’s creative works precisely for the purpose of eliciting man’s praise. In both directions, God is glorified.

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  2. Thanks Richard. That must be true. I quite like the thought that it is the Lord’s grace that makes it possible for sinners to remember his works, although i’m prepared to accept it might not come directly from this passage.

    (In the Fourfold State, Boston has a section on memory, and how in fallen human nature memory is prone to forget what is good and remember what is bad (nursing grudges etc) but is he says renewed in regeneration so that it retains the law of the Lord etc.) (Even having an inclination to review the Lord’s ways and works must be the fruit of his grace I suppose, as it’s not something that people have any relish for without an experience of grace … they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, etc.)

    Another query about this psalm, which your comment reminds me of – are the works in question primarily the works of creation/providence or the works of redemption? and how can you tell?

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  3. A common interpretation seems to be that God “instituted a memory / remembrance for those wonderfully made” (trying to recapture the Hebrew here). The wonderful works thus refer to us humans – only we are able to reflect on or remember His grace and compassion. The ambiguity lies chiefly in the noun which I translated “memory / remembrance” above (which incidentally is the first word in the sentence, i.e. the main topic of the statement which follows). Is this the human ability to remember, or are these the incidents of the Exodus? (The latter are refered to several times by the same noun.) In either case, the focus of the “new information” about the topic (regardless of whether our memory or the liberation from Egypt to be remembered for all times) is the grace and compassion of God.

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      • Of course not in this same psalm. Basis for this interpretation is Ps.44:2 refering to Deut 6:20-25. The same noun then occurs e.g. Ps 9:2; 71:17 “and more often” (acc. to Gesenius).

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  4. I see – v interesting, thanks Oliver. Not nitpicking but how can you tell that ‘those wonderfully made’ are humans? Some day I will learn something about Hebrew … :)

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    • *I* wouldn’t be able to tell that from just looking at the Hebrew but I’ve consulted OT dictionaries (Gesenius) and commentaries by Hebrew speakers / scholars (e.g. Rabbi Hirsch’s commentary on the Psalms is very illuminating). Presumably, speakers of Hebrew have a better understanding than me of what is in the lexis and grammar of the OT. Still, it seems to be only a very common interpretation in Hebrew commentaries, not the only possible one.
      By all means, do learn some Hebrew! How else are you going to communicate in heaven? ;-)

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