Psalm 111 was probably sung by our Lord and His disciples before they left the upper room (Matt 26:30) after the institution of the Lord’s Supper. As such, it is ideally suited for praise and remembrance of our Savior on a Lord’s day morning. Furthermore, the Psalmist draws our attention to the Lord in the midst of His people, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. As we consider the various aspects of the work of the Lord we see that they were displayed in their fulness at Calvary. If we want to discover the depths of His love, His grace, and His compassion, we can go to Calvary. It is there that His work is characterized by four awe-inspiring aspects. It is Great! It is Honorable! It is Glorious! It is Wonderful!
When we think of the greatness of the work, our minds go back to Nehemiah when he was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Under fierce persecution from the enemies of the Lord to compromise, perhaps just delay, the work, he made this statement of faith: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down” (Neh 6:3). Four more times this request was made and four more times the reply came back, “I cannot come down!” A clear parallel exists here with Matthew 27:42 where the chief priests, scribes and elders, said in mockery – let us say, with reverence, that they were accurate – “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” And still further, “If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” No doubt the response here is also, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.”
King Ahasuerus once asked what would be the best way to show honor to a man. It is a subject to which Haman, that evil man, had given much thought. One can imagine him rubbing his greedy hands together in glee as he surmised, “Who is more worthy of honor than I am?” May the Lord preserve us from Haman-like thoughts: “I’m finally receiving the recognition I deserve!” Haman’s quick excited answer virtually tumbles out. “Why for the man the king delights to honor he will need the king’s coat! Yes, yes! and more, the king’s colt! And, and well, he should wear the king’s crown. And just one more thing, he will need the king’s commendation!”
Let us quietly now go to Calvary where we see a crown, but one of thorns, and a royal purple robe placed upon that blessed bleeding back in mockery. There is no horse to be exalted upon but rather a cross to be carried and then lifted up. He is placed between heaven and earth as if to proclaim: fit for neither; between two thieves as if the worst of the three. And for a commendation? Not “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor,” but rather, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Man did his worst to the Son of God and yet, paradoxically, there is untold honor seen. Isaac Watts stated it well. “See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did ere such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
Something that is glorious, is typically marked by great beauty and splendor, indeed perfection. This is in contrast to that which is spotted, wrinkled, unholy, and blemished (Eph 5:27). Also it is the opposite of that which is “vile” or of a low estate. Therefore, when we think that His work is glorious we are struck again with a paradox of Calvary. One day, perhaps today, He will “. . . change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Phi 3:21); yet there will be one stark difference in this fashioning: His body will still carry the wounds of Calvary. It should humble us to think that the only lasting reminder of the rebellion of mankind will be these wounds.
When we consider the wonderful works of the Lord we note that these works were often accompanied by some verbal declaration. The Psalmist declared that the saints would not hide from their children the wonderful works of God as proclaimed by their fathers (Psalm 78:4). In Acts 2 the disciples declared, in a unique manner, the wonderful works of God. Isaiah the Prophet astutely described the Prince of Peace as the “Wonderful Counselor.” Truly it can be said of the Lord Jesus that “Never man spake like this Man,” and this is very evident at Calvary. So we then must ask, what declaration about the wonderful work of God is made at Calvary? It is this powerful statement, made “with a loud voice” and proclaimed to all: “It is finished!” He completed the work which His Father had given Him to do.
How great is His work! How honorable! How glorious! How wonderful! And it is finished! It is a wonderful privilege to remember His work each Lord’s day morning, safe in the knowledge that He is gracious, full of compassion, and ever mindful of His covenant.