The fear of the Lord - Reverence for God; respect for his law, his will, his government, himself; the fear of offending him, which will lead us to do right. This fear is not that of a slave; it is not mere dread; it is not terror. It is consistent with love, and springs from it. It is consistent with calmness of mind, and promotes it. It does not produce terror, but rather delivers from it, and preserves the mind from alarms. The word here rendered "fear" is a noun of the same origin as the word rendered "reverend" in the previous verse. The suggestion to the mind of the psalmist that the "name of the Lord" was "reverend," or was to be venerated, introduced this thought that such reverence is the very foundation of wisdom.
Is the beginning of wisdom - The foundation, the origin, the commencement of being truly wise. It is so. There is no true wisdom which does not recognize the being, the perfections, and the claims of God. The highest wisdom - the most lofty endowment of man - is that he "may" know and honor God. This, in capability, makes him wise above the brute creation; this, in exercise, makes one man more wise than another; this, when it springs up in the soul, makes a man more wise than he was before - or, is the "beginning" of true wisdom in the soul. Compare Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Deuteronomy 4:6; Job 28:28; Ecclesiastes 12:13.
A good understanding ... - Margin, "good success." The original word - ׂ śêkel - is rendered "understanding" (as here) in I Samuel 25:3; Ezra 8:18; Job 17:4; Proverbs 3:4; Proverbs 13:15; Proverbs 16:22; "wisdom" in I Chronicles 22:12; Proverbs 12:8; Proverbs 23:9; "prudence," II Chronicles 2:12; Proverbs 19:11 (margin); "sense," in Nehemiah 8:8; "knowledge," II Chronicles 30:22; and "policy" in Daniel 8:25. It "may" denote, therefore, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, success, prudence; and it is true in regard to "all" of these - for the fear of the Lord, or true religion, produces them "all." It is not necessary, therefore, to endeavor to ascertain precisely which of these is the meaning here.
That do his commandments - Margin, as in the Hebrew, "do them." That do the things connected with the fear of the Lord; that is, who obey God.
His praise endureth for ever - That is, the foundation for his praise endures to all eternity; or, is unchangeable. As God is always the same, so there is, as derived from his being and perfections, always the same foundation for praise. As there will always be created beings who can and will appreciate this, so it will be literally true, as it should be, that his praise "will" be celebrated forever.
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