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Tuesday, December 5th, 2023
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 117

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-2


In the parable told by the Lord Jesus in Luke 15, we see joy in the shepherd that he has his lost sheep back, in the woman that she has her lost coin back, and the father that he has his lost son back. They are so happy about this that they invite others to share in their joy (Luke 15:6; Luke 15:9Luke 15:22-Jeremiah :; Luke 15:32). We see this same thing in this psalm. The faithful remnant has become so filled with reasons to praise and worship the LORD in the previous hallel-psalms that they invite all those around them to join them in praising the LORD. This invitation is made in Psalm 117.

This is also why Psalm 150 ends with the invitation: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Hallelujah!” (Psalms 150:6). With that, the book of Psalms ends.

Psalm 117 is admittedly the shortest chapter in the Bible. However, that is more than compensated for by a wide view to the horizon. The LORD, the Creator of heaven and earth, is not only the God of Israel, He is the God for all people (Romans 3:29).

All Nations, Praise the LORD!

This shortest psalm and the shortest chapter in the Bible has a huge span. The invitation goes out to “all nations” to praise the LORD, and to “all peoples” to laud Him (Psalms 117:1). This is about the time when the LORD is King of all the earth. Israel never made such an invitation in its history under the law. But now that they have been led into the blessing of the realm of peace, they can make that invitation.

From the beginning, it is the LORD’s intention that His blessing should come through Abraham, and thus through Israel, to all the generations of the earth (Genesis 12:1). The purpose of the service of the Servant of the LORD is also to be “a light of the nations” (Isaiah 49:6). As a result of the sacrifice of the Servant of the LORD in Isaiah 53, the house of the LORD, the temple, will be called “a house of prayer for all the peoples” (Isaiah 56:6-Judges :). The nations will also go to the house of the LORD to receive instruction (Isaiah 2:3). Thus, together with the people of Israel, the nations will praise the LORD (Psalms 117:1).

On top of that, God has a right to the praise of all nations. Israel has no exclusive right to praise God. The people were made His people by God so that through them He might make His Name known to the nations and they too might glorify Him for Who He is. He is not only the God of the Jews, but also of the nations (Romans 3:29).

Paul quotes Psalms 117:1 of this psalm in Romans 15 to indicate that God intended blessing for the nations in the Old Testament as well (Romans 15:11; cf. Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:8). He does so in connection with the Lord Jesus Who became a Servant of the circumcision “for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy” (Romans 15:8-1 Samuel :). Here Paul makes it clear that the coming of the Lord Jesus means blessing not only for Israel, but also for the nations.

It is in God’s heart that the Lord Jesus restores Israel. But that is not the only thing. For God, the work of His Son is so great that He does not want to limit its effects to Israel. He wants all nations to share in the mercy that has come to people through Christ. The result is that God is glorified and made great.

Mercy to the nations is not something new that was only revealed in the New Testament. Note: it is not about the church. In the Old Testament that indeed is a mystery. What we are talking about here is that God’s heart also went out to the nations outside of Israel in the Old Testament. It is true that they have a different place there. Israel is and remains God’s chosen people and has a special place in the history of salvation, but God has not rejected the other nations with that.

The heart of God always goes out to the nations as well. However, there is a distinction between two eras (cf. Romans 11:11-Ezra :):
1. The era of the rejection of Israel as a people, which is the time in which we live now, the time when God’s blessing comes to the nations apart from Israel.
2. The era of Israel’s acceptance, which is the near future, the time when God’s blessing will come to the nations through Israel.

This psalm is about the second era, after the church is caught up (1 Thessalonians 4:15-Job :). The remnant of Israel will then be grafted back into the original noble olive tree (Romans 11:23-Lamentations :).

In the end times, the nations will come to know the LORD through the ways He has gone with Israel. They will come to know Him as the kind and faithful God. This is what God’s people testify to when they say: “For His lovingkindness is great toward us” (Psalms 117:2). That lovingkindness – chesed, covenant love, based on the blood of the new covenant – “is great” because it has put an end to the power of sin and to the power of hostile nations. The latter is consistent with the blessing of the covenant. From these powers the people could not deliver themselves, but He did.

This also revealed “the truth of the LORD” to His covenant. His truth confirms the immutability of His covenant, His promise. The sins of the people and the enmity of the nations do not destroy His faithfulness to His covenant. That faithfulness has no end; it is “everlasting”, that is, here, during the entire period of the realm of peace. Therefore, the “hallelujah”, praise the LORD, with which this psalm ends, will sound unceasingly during the duration of the peace kingdom.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 117". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-117.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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