Psalm 117 begins in verse one with a command to praise the Lord. But the command isn’t just for the original Jewish reader. The psalmist specifically commands Gentiles to also praise Him. This is called a Global Invitation, and it means God is indicating His salvation goes beyond the borders of Israel.
The shortest psalm in the book of songs packs a big punch. An anonymous writer composed the psalm and in three brief sentences encompassed the whole world. The psalm is an invitation to people everywhere to turn to the Lord and join with believers everywhere in praising Him. A proper understanding of this psalm will help us appreciate at least four privileges that belong to God’s people: Worship, Share, Love, Assurance.
WORSHIP – The psalm opens and closes with “praise the Lord,” for praising the Lord ought to be a mark of every believer today as it was of the new Christians in the early church (Acts 2:47). The first “praise” translates the familiar Hebrew word hallel, which gives us “hallelujah–praise the Lord.” The second “praise” is shavah, which means “to boast, to extol and laud.” When we praise the Lord, we not only tell Him of His greatness, but we also “brag on Him” to those who hear our songs. Worship and praise are the highest occupations to which we can dedicate our voices, the activities that will occupy us for all eternity!
SHARE – The word translated “nations” is often translated “Gentiles,” that is, all people who are not of Semitic origin. The Hebrew word translated “peoples” refers to the diverse nationalities in the world (Rev. 7:9). You find the phrases “all the earth” and “all peoples” frequently in the book of Psalms. The Jewish people were supposed to be separated from the Gentiles but not isolated from them, for God called Abraham to found a nation that would bring blessing to all the earth. However, Israel failed and became guilty of imitating the Gentiles instead of illuminating the Gentiles with the light of God’s truth (Isa. 42:6; 49:6). “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22; Luke 2:32), for God chose the Jewish people to give the world the knowledge of the true God, the Scriptures, and the Savior.
The church today needs to carry the light of the gospel to the whole world (Acts 13:47). Paul quoted this verse in Romans 15:11 as part of his explanation of the relationship of the church to Israel. The apostles and other early Jewish Christians praised the Lord among both Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 15:9) as recorded in the book of Acts. Through this expanding witness, many Gentiles trusted Christ and praised God with the Jewish believers, for believing Jews and Gentiles were one body in Christ (Eph. 2:11-22).
If we are a worshipping people, praising the Lord, then we will be a witnessing people, telling others how wonderful He is. Like the lepers outside the gates of Samaria, believers today must confess, “We are not doing right. This is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent” (2 Kings 7:9 nasb). May we imitate the apostles who said, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20 nkjv). We must SHARE the Good News of Jesus and His salvation! “For God so loved the WORLD…that means everybody is included!
LOVE – We depend on God and His love to us. Have we forgotten that “it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” (Lam. 3:22)? We have been saved by grace, not by our good works (Eph. 2:8-9), and were it not for God’s merciful lovingkindness, we would still be in darkness and death.
How unfortunate that some of the Jewish leaders became proud of being God’s chosen people and began to look down upon others. They even called the Gentiles “dogs.” But God’s people today are guilty of the same sin. “His lovingkindness is great toward us” (v. 2a nasb) so we have nothing to boast about. “Not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:9 nkjv).
If we are humble before the Lord, He can use us to reach others, but if we are proud, He will reject us. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5 nkjv). We are saved by grace and we live by grace, depending wholly on the Lord’s generosity in Jesus Christ. A proud church is a weak church. To enjoy the praise of men is to lose the blessing of God.
DIVINE ASSURANCE – Yes, All God’s people are saved by faith and live by faith, but our faith would mean nothing were it not for His faithfulness that “endures forever.” The word translated “truth” or “faithfulness” means in Hebrew “to be firm, to be unshakable.”
God’s character cannot change, and His promises will not change, so why are we fretting about the feelings within us and the circumstances around us? Why do we hesitate to obey Him when He abounds in faithfulness (Ex. 34:6)?
If God calls us to do something, He is faithful to help us do it (1 Thess. 5:24). To rely on our faith is to put faith in faith, but to rely on God’s faithfulness is to put faith in the Lord. Our assurance is in the Word of God and the God of the Word. He never changes in his love for us and his faithfulness to us. Never.
Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs
Psalm 117, The Message
1-2 Praise God, everybody!
Applaud God, all people!
His love has taken over our lives;
God’s faithful ways are eternal.
TRUTH: EVERYBODY is included for God so loved the world—that He sent His Son to save ALL who believe. So, praise God, everybody!
Proverb 28:13, The Message
WISDOM: “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
Thank you for your word that causes us to dig deeper and deeper for the meaning of your wisdom, the depths of your love and the purpose for our existence. Thank you for short passages to meditate on and be filled with the knowledge of your mercy and grace. Thank you for saving our souls. Thank you for saving the souls of everybody on this earth who believes in You and calls out to You for your salvation through Jesus. Thank you, Jesus for completing the work on the cross so all who believe can be saved for eternity. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for guiding us into all Truth this morning. You have only made me more grateful for the privileges you have given to me. Continue to grow and mature me until I meet you face to face. I am yours.
In Jesus Name, Amen