Weds 5th April - Psalm 117
1 Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
2 For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.[a]
- Psalm 117:2 Hebrew Hallelu Yah
Meditation on Psalm 117
This is the shortest Psalm and also the shortest chapter of any book in the Bible.
It’s clear what its message is – ‘Praise the LORD.’
The reason for this praise is very clear – ‘love’ and ‘faithfulness.’
That’s it. We can have a quick read and move on.
Not so fast.
Let’s get some quotes from two well-known Christians.
- Campbell Morgan writes: “this is the shortest song in the whole collection but there is none greater or grander in its expression of praise.”
Martin Luther devoted thirty-six pages to this psalm, expounding it in four important categories:
(1) prophecy (the Gentiles will participate in gospel blessings),
(2) revelation (the kingdom of Christ is not earthly and temporal but rather heavenly and eternal),
(3) instruction (we are saved by faith alone and not by works, wisdom or holiness,
(4) admonition (we should praise God for such a great salvation).
- THE CALL TO PRAISE THE LORD Verse 1
This is one of the Hallel songs which the Israelites would sing on their way up to one of the feasts in Jerusalem.
This is one of the songs that Jesus would have sung with His disciples when He went to the Mount of Olives after He had celebrated the last supper with them – read Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26.
Whereas some of the psalms encourage the Israelites to praise the LORD, here we have a call to ‘all nations.’
Come back to Abram (Abraham) and recall the great promises of God to him.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
These promises were repeated to Isaac and Jacob.
The psalmist is reminding us of those promises as he does in other psalms.
Psalm 47:1 ‘Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.’
Psalm 67:3-5 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.’
Psalm 96:7 ‘Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.’
Psalm 100;1 ‘Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.’
Come into the New Testament and Paul, in his letter to the Romans shows very clearly how Jews and Gentiles would be praising the Lord.
Romans 15:8-12 ‘For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”
Again, it says, ‘Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”
And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” ’
Complete the story and come to Revelation 5:9-10 where John writes in his vision, ‘And they sang a new song, saying:” You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God people from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
According to the latest statistics, there are 195 countries in the world and there are over 300 different languages spoken in the UK.
When Jesus comes again there will be people from every nation and from every language coming together to praise the Lord. What a day that will be.
- THE REASON TO PRAISE THE LORD Verse 2
The two phrases which ring throughout Scripture…
- His LOVE towards us
- The FAITHFULNESS of the LORD
Come back to Deuteronomy 7:7-9 and rejoice in the reason why you and I are loved by God.
‘The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.’
You and I are loved for no other reason than this – He loves you; He loves me just because He loves you and He loves me.
And that love gave us Jesus. We hardly need reminding but we will as we remember John 3:16 where John says, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
And that love responds as John writes in his letter in 1 John 4:19, ‘we love because He first loved us.’
We love God and we love each other. Read that whole section – 1 John 4:7-21 – and rejoice that we can respond to the love of God in Jesus.
I came across an essay written by Samuel Saldivar. He titled his essay, ‘The faithfulness of God’.
His opening paragraph grabbed my attention when I read it online.
‘The faithfulness of God means God is unchanging in his nature, true to his Word, has promised salvation to his people, and will keep his promises forever. He is worthy of eternal trust no matter how unlikely his promises seem. Nothing in heaven or on earth can prevent God from accomplishing all that he has promised his people through Jesus Christ. This reliability of God should be a great source of comfort and strength for God’s people as they repeatedly fail and go through trials and suffering.’
Suffice it to say in conclusion – two of my favourite songs are: ‘Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father’ and ‘Faithful One, so unchanging.’ You may have your favourites. Remember, God is good all the time.
‘Praise the LORD.’