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David's Commentaries

Psalm 117 ‘O Praise Jehovah, all ye nations; Laud him, all ye peoples.’

This Week’s Focus Passage: Psalm 117

‘O Praise Jehovah, all ye nations; Laud him, all ye peoples.’

 

    This brief Psalm is, no question, the shortest psalm in the entire psalter. It exposes to us no author whatever. It is only two verses, yet it is packed full of instruction for the children of God; for Jehovah’s redeemed sinners. We are, in this little psalm, first called to praise our God, and then given more than sufficient arguments for doing so. Whoever penned this delightful ode speaks largely of lovingkindness and truth.  Could this be a psalm of praise to Jesus? There is cause to imagine it to be precisely so.

O praise Jehovah, all ye nations: Laud him, all ye peoples. For his lovingkindness is great toward us; And the truth of Jehovah endureth for ever. Praise ye Jehovah.

Looking at Paul’s epistle to the church at Rome, particularly in 15:11ff. which sets forth this litany of praises, Paul cites, among other Old Testament passages, from this, our psalm 117. Paul includes a pericope in verses 8-12:

For I say that Christ hath been made a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises given unto the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy: as it is written, (9) Therefore will I give praise unto thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. (10) And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. (11) And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and let all the people praise him. (12) And again, Isaiah saith, There shall be the root of Jesse, And he that ariseth to rule over the Gentiles; On him shall the Gentiles hope. 

Christ has become a minister of the circumcision, we are told here by Paul. It could be rendered, For I declare that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised for the sake of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the fathers. It was to the Jews, that, according to William Hendriksen, Jesus, during His public ministry, turned His attention first of all (Matt. 10:5, 6; 15:24; John 1:11). He turned to them in order to confirm the promises given to their father, Abraham. Those promises of which we read in Genesis 15, and elsewhere. But in Genesis 15:4ff., we are informed that Jehovah came unto Abraham in a vision. He told the patriarch He was his shield, as well as thy exceeding great reward. Abraham reminded God that he had no seed.

And behold, the word of Jehovah came unto him, saying, This man [that is, Eliezer] shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 

This, and others like it, are the promises of the fathers; the promise given Abraham. We may fairly understand those blind leaders of the blind, in the days of Christ upon the earth, defending themselves in response to Jesus, and saying such things as, “We have Abraham for our father.” Paul is bringing the truth of the matter to the readers of his epistle to Rome, when he adverts to the language of this 117th psalm, that the gospel is destined to both Gentiles and Jews, ‘all ye nations,’ and, ‘all ye peoples.’ But in his epistle to the church at Ephesus, he finds himself defending those of the nation of Israel, that God has His people among them as well. This is the setting for the defense, as we find it in Ephesians. In chapter one, and verses 9-10, he has said,

Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him unto a dispensation of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth: in him I say.

The apostle then proceeds, in the next chapter, in chapter two, to bring into the matter the fact of that “mystery” of grace, and God’s design to bring unto Himself, through His Son, peoples of all nations and all lands, that the day will come when the words of our psalm shall resound around the entire globe, “O Praise Jehovah, all ye nations, Laud him, all ye peoples.” He exhorts his Ephesian readers to remember, that once ye were separate from Christ. That they were once alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. There was a time when they were strangers to the covenants of the promise. He reminded them of the time when they had no hope. But now, he says, but now in Christ Jesus ye that were once far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. He is not the Savior of Gentiles only, but of Jews, as well. ‘All ye nations’ and ‘all ye peoples.’

He is the Servant of God for all those that God has sent Him to redeem, regardless of color or creed, or any other thing.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye are all one man in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.—Galatians 3:26-29.

This is that of which Psalm 117 is speaking to us. We are to praise Jehovah for all that He has done for us; for all that He has given us; even His only-begotten Son; for all that He continues to be unto us; our Father in heaven; our Lord and Savior at His right hand, ever living to intercede for His people; every single individual soul for which He laid down His life at Golgotha, in that amazing day when the sun was darkened for three hours; when that inimitable cry resounded from the lips of the Holy One of God, as He uttered His last words on earth, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ 

This is an unashamed call to the church of Jesus Christ, to be praying for the conversion of sinners around the entire world. leaving none out of this prayer. The psalmist is ranging this call as widely as can be imagined; ‘all ye nations,’ ‘all ye peoples.’ This seems to be the ground of the praise to God, found in the writings of Paul in his epistle to the church at Rome. Hallelujah; Praise ye Jehovah.

 

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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