Read: Psalm 117
Consider: Psalm 117 is a very short psalm of just two verses. Compare this with Psalm 119 with 176 verses (Hint: if you want to read Psalm 119, read it in sections; it is written in sections that correspond to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet).
Getting back to our short psalm (117), it would be very easy to think that we couldn’t possibly get very much from so short a psalm. If we were to apply this thinking then the shortest verse in the Bible, ‘Jesus wept’, would have very little meaning for us. However, even in these two words there is so much hidden meaning (something for another post in the future).
Look how the psalm begins and ends with the same words ‘Praise the LORD’. This is the starting and ending point for everything that exists in the world. Despite this we know that a significant number of people worldwide disregard God and his offer of forgiveness. The psalmist moves on to say ‘… all you nations …’ and ‘… all you peoples …’ should praise and extol him. Does this apply to nations and people who hold to a different faith? Absolutely! God wants everyone, everywhere to worship him. God’s offer of forgiveness through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus Christ, is open to all irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, colour or creed.
The psalmist gives two reasons why the nations and peoples should praise and extol the Lord. Firstly, because God’s love is great toward us (everyone). As human beings we tend to prejudge whether or not we think a person is ‘worthy’ of salvation. By doing this we forget that it is because of our unworthiness (sinfulness) that the offer of salvation is open to us. Also as God sees sin as sin, there are no grades of sinners.
The second reason given by the psalmist is that God’s faithfulness endures for ever. The story of his chosen people, Israel, is one of on-off devotion to God. The people turn to God, then turn away. While they waver between faithfulness and unfaithfulness, God continues to be faithful. He proves that his faithfulness endures (lasts) for ever and even in the face of strong provocation, he continues to be faithful. It is too easy for us to think that people today are so different to those in David’s time. Yet if we are honest, even about ourselves, we must admit there are times when we are more faithful to God and times when are are less so.
Pray: Father, we thank you that in the face of our unfaithfulness you have proved yourself faithful. We pray that your church would be strong in the face of opposition and it would be a shining example, sharing the good news of your love and faithfulness to the world. Amen