111:0We do not know who wrote Psalm 111. We call him the psalmist. It is one of the acrostic psalms. That means that the first sentence begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The second sentence begins with the second letter, and so on. Hebrew was the language that the psalmist spoke. The acrostic does not start with ‘Hallelujah’, but with ‘I will say 'thanks' to the Lord with all my heart.’ This Easy English translation of Psalm 111 does not make an acrostic.
Maybe the psalmist wrote Psalm 111 after the exile. The exile was when the Jews were in Babylon. This was from 606 BC to 536 BC. BC means ‘years Before Christ came to the earth.’ When they came back to their own country, they made the Book of Psalms. They used it in the temple in Jerusalem. They built the temple again after the Babylonians destroyed it.
God is Righteous
1 Hallelujah! or, Say that the Lord is really great!
I will say ‘thanks’ to the Lord with all my heart.
I will do it where his people meet together.
111:1In verse 1, ‘Hallelujah’ is a Hebrew word. It means ‘say that the Lord is very great.’ Many people do not translate it, but use the Hebrew word. The Lord is the covenant name of God. When two people (or groups of people) agree we call it a covenant (or an agreement). In this covenant:
– God agrees to love his people and give them help; if
– God's people are his servants and love and obey him.
‘With all my heart’ in verse 1. This is a special way that the Jews (and many English people) say ‘as well as I can.’ Note that the psalmist says he will do it ‘where his people meet together.’ For him, that was the temple (or God's house) in Jerusalem. For Christians it is in Church, or where they meet other Christians.
2 The things that the Lord does are really great!
People that find pleasure in them study them.
3 Everything that he does makes people understand that he is a king!
He will always be righteous.
111:3‘understand that he is a king’ in verse 3. When we understand that God is the greatest king in heaven or earth, we honour him. This means that we are very polite to him. We are even a bit afraid of him. This is a special ‘being afraid’ that Christians call ‘awe.’ It means that we know that God is much more powerful than we are.
4 The Lord causes people to remember his miracles.
He is kind and he loves people.
111:4‘miracles’ in verse 4. These are things that only God can do. As part of the covenant, the psalmist writes about three miracles. One is in verse 5. God gave the people food when they travelled from Egypt to their new home in Canaan. Today we call Canaan ‘Israel’ and ‘Palestine.’ You can read about this miracle in Exodus 16. God sent his people bread from heaven. Heaven is either the sky or the home of God. The Bible calls this bread ‘manna.’ The other miracle is in verse 6, ‘he gave them lands.’ These lands were where the people of Canaan lived. God sent these people away and put the Jews there instead. You can read about this miracle in the Book of Joshua. The third miracle is in verse 9. God made his people free. They were slaves in Egypt, but God made them free. The story of this is in Exodus chapters 1-15.
5 He gave food to the people that are his servants.
He will always remember his covenant.
111:5The psalmist writes about the covenant in verses 5 and 9.
6 He has shown his people that he is powerful.
He gave them the lands that belonged to other countries.
7 The things that he does are honest and fair.
People can trust him when he tells them his rules.
111:7‘trust’ in verse 7. Here it means ‘We believe that God's rules are the best things that we can do.’ He will not tell us to do anything that is bad for us. Sometimes it may seem silly. But we must still trust that God is right! We often hear God speaking to us when we read the Bible.
8 He made his rules to continue for all time.
The Lord was true and righteous when he made these rules.
9 He made his people free.
He made a covenant with them for them to obey always.
His name is holy.
And it makes people see him as powerful and important.
111:9‘Holy’ in verse 9. This is a word like ‘righteous.’ God is holy and righteous. ‘Holy’ means that he never does anything wrong. ‘Righteous’ means that he always does what is right.
10 People who are afraid of the Lord are starting to be wise.
Everyone that is wise will have really understood the Lord.
People should always say that the Lord is great!
111:10‘Wise’ in verse 10. A wise choice is when we decide to do the right thing. We think about a problem. Then we choose (make a choice) what to do. If we are afraid of God (better, ‘in awe of God’) then we will usually make the best choice. ‘Awe’ is a special ‘being afraid’ – not because we think that God will hurt us. Rather, because we love God, we do not want to hurt him! We can hurt God by making the wrong choice! Wise people have ‘wisdom.’ An old translation of this verse says ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ This kind of fear (or being afraid) is the same as ‘awe.’ You will also find this verse in Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10.