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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 117

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-2

Psalms 117:0

1          Oh praise the Lord, all ye nations:

Praise Him, all ye people.

2     For His merciful kindness is great toward us:

And the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.

Praise ye the Lord.


Contents and Composition.—This Psalm, which occupies exactly the middle place in the Holy Scriptures, is the shortest, as far as words are concerned, but is highly important in its Messianic meaning. It contains the lyrical expression of the consciousness of the Old Testament Church, (1) that it was the object of the special and everlasting care of God; (2) that the former proceeded from His mercy, the latter from His truth; (3) that for this very reason (not Israel, but) Jehovah is the worthy object of praise for all peoples. The truth that all nations should yet worship Jehovah, as the God who has revealed Himself to the world by means of what He did for Israel, is unfolded by the Apostle Paul (Romans 15:11) from the germs herein contained. The special occasion of the composition of the Psalm cannot be ascertained. The supposition (Hitzig) that it was the victory of which the preceding and following Psalms are supposed to treat, has nothing for its support. The style is liturgical, and therefore this is often called a Temple–Psalm, sung either at the beginning or at the end of the service (Rosenmüller), or, by separate choirs or by the whole people, in the interval between longer psalms (Knapp). Many MSS. and editions annex it to the following Psalm.

Instead of the Heb. form אֻמּוֹת, Genesis 25:16, Numbers 25:15, the Chald. form אֻמִּים3 occurs here in Psalms 117:1. The closing word of the same verse, לְעוֹלָם, does not further define גבר (Luther) but is the predicate of אֶמֶת (Sept.).—“Mercy and truth are the two divine forces which, once unveiled and unfolded in Israel, shall go forth from Israel and overcome the world” (Del.). The heathen are called upon to praise the Lord on account of His great deeds in behalf of Israel in Psalms 47:2; Psalms 66:8; Psalms 98:4 (Hengstenberg).

[Delitzsch: “כְּל־גּוֹים are all nations without distinction. כָּל־לִאֻמִּים are all nations without exception.”—J. F.M.]


What God does in His Church tends to the good of the world.—The expectation of salvation for all peoples: (1) whither it is directed; (2) on what it is based; (3) by what means it may be realized.—The worship of God on earth: (1) its meaning; (2) the place where it is to be offered; (3) its elements and mode.—The influence of God’s mercy, as a means of preserving and extending His Church among all nations, in accordance with His eternal truth and faithfulness.

Starke: Others may praise and boast of the glory of the world; let Christians praise God’s mercy and truth.—Where God’s priceless mercy is rightly understood, there follows a hallelujah to God the Lord.—Rieger: Any Jewish child could learn this little Psalm by rote, but when it comes to be fulfilled, it is just as hard for that nation to learn it inwardly.—Diedrich: Mercy and truth are the deepest need of mankind; let them then praise Him who answers such a need.—Taube: When we read of mercy, that it is powerful, and of truth that it is eternal, we are told to look for a royal march of victory through the world. But there is much to be overcome, not only in the hearts of heathen before they are brought from raging to praising, but also in the hearts of the Jews, before they become willing instruments of the divine counsels and embrace the far-reaching love of God.

[Matt. Henry: The tidings of the gospel being sent to all nations should give them cause to praise God; the institution of gospel ordinances would give leave and opportunity to praise God, and the power of gospel-grace would give them hearts to praise Him.—J. F. M.]


[3][May this not have been an alternative Heb. form less frequently used? So Green, Gr. § 200 c. Boettcher, Gr. § 642, note I., thinks that כָל־לְאֻמִּים ought to be read. Perowne calls this latter word another and more frequent form of אֻמּוֹת. It is, of course, an entirely different word.—J. F. M.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 117". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/psalms-117.html. 1857-84.
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