“Praise the Lord all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever, Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117).
Psalm 117 might be titled, “Pure Praise.” Consisting of only two verses, it is a tribute to the beauty of brevity, to the wise man’s general exhortation to “let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2). Although the shortest chapter not just in Psalms but in all of Scripture, it’s large in spirit and full of praise to God.
The chapter’s entire structure revolves around its theme of praise. (1) There’s an Exclamation (Praise / Extol). (2) There’s an Object (the Lord). (3) There’s the Scope (all Nations / all Peoples). (4) There the Reason (His Steadfast Love / Faithfulness). (5) There’s a Refrain (Praise). The big idea of the chapter is, “Everybody Everywhere Ought to Praise God for His Steadfast Love and Enduring Faithfulness!”
The scope of this psalm is amazing. There is a personal, local, national, global and universal call to praise the true and living God! As one of the Hallel Psalms (Psalm 113-118), it would have been sung during the Passover by the Jews. Paul quotes from Psalm 117 in Romans 15:7-11 to show that Christ is the hope of both Jews and Gentiles.
The reason God should be praised by all is His “great” steadfast love toward us and His “enduring” faithfulness or truth. The same two expressions also are found in Psalm 100:5 which also adds, “the Lord is good.” God’s hesed or gracious love is mighty and prevails (cf. Romans 5:15-21). God’s emeth or faithfulness and truth endures (cf. Romans 3:24-27). God perfectly exhibits both. Love without truth is soft; truth without love can be hard. How thankful we should be that, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14). Ultimately, Jesus is the revelation of God’s grace and truth! (John 1:17).
As Christians we surely have every reason to praise, and we serve a God who is worthy of all the praise we can give (and more).
– Mike Vestal