The psalm begins with the author’s resolve to take part in the public worship of God. Verse 1 tells that an essential element of true worship is gratitude to God. It also informs us who can worship God – the upright. An upright person is an individual who obeys the Lord from the heart. Ideally, true worship is given by a congregation of grateful persons who delight to obey God’s commandments. Indeed, obedience to God is the always the consequence of true gratitude for his mercy.
In the remainder of the psalm, the author focuses on the works of God. Those works range from what he provides for them daily (provides food) to redeeming them from powerful enemies. In all his activities, be they great or small, the Lord reveals what kind of God he is.
It is important to note the benefits that meditation brings: ‘Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them’ (v. 2). The reason for thinking about them is not primarily to obtain more information but to delight in the God who performs them. The activities of God should bring a response of joy.
‘The hidden wisdom of God is the most marvellous part of his works, and hence those who do not look below the surface miss the best part of what he would teach us. Because the works are great they cannot be seen all at once, but must be looked into with care, and this seeking out is of essential service to us by educating our faculties, and strengthening our spiritual eye gradually to bear the light of the divine glory’ (Spurgeon).
The psalmist stressed that the Lord is righteous. His righteousness is seen in his permanent adhering to his merciful covenant of grace in which he committed himself to ensure that his redeemed people would receive their inheritance. Literally, this commitment was fulfilled in the ways he provided Israel with redemption from Egypt, the land of Canaan to dwell in, and protection from their enemies. His work in those provisions should not have been forgotten; instead his people should have trusted in him.
What was typified in Israel is fulfilled in the church of Christ. They too have redemption, inheritance and protection. Therefore they should delight in thinking about what had been done for them, and when they do so they will come and worship God together with glad hearts.
Such a lifestyle is the meaning of fearing the Lord. Those who do so have discovered the path of wisdom, the path that gives a good life in this world and leads to glory in the next.