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Psalm 117

Psalm 117 Summary Handout

All people praise Yahweh

 

Summary

In this descriptive praise psalm the psalmist calls all people, Israel and the nations, to praise Yahweh because his lovingkindness is so great toward all and his faithfulness-truth never stops. This psalm may be a doxology to Psalms 111-116.

Outline

  1. Psalm 117.1. The call for all nations and people to praise Yahweh, LORD.
  2. Psalm 117.2. The reason to praise Yahweh, LORD, is because his lovingkindness is great and his faithfulness-truth is everlasting.

Verse summary

  1. Psalm 117.1. The call for all nations and people to praise Yahweh, LORD.
    • The verbs praise (הַֽלְל֣וּ from halal Strong 1984) and laud (to praise, extol, acclaim שַׁ֝בְּח֗וּהוּ  from shabach, an Aramaic word, Strong 7623) are piel imperative masculine plural. Note the  parallelism. The imperative often is a call, an invitation, or command. Here it approaches the command idea.
    • Those who are to praise and laud Yahweh are the nations and peoples—everyone. Nations is the word goim (Strong 1471), used for Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 12.2; Psalm 106.5), nations of the world (Genesis 10.5; Deuteronomy 28.1; Job 12.23; Psalm 72.11,17). In context it refers to all the people of the world—Hebrew and Gentiles. Peoples is the word umma (Strong 524), used for people in general and for tribes (Numbers 25.15; Genesis 25.16; Psalm 117.1). All people, Hebrew and Gentile, are told to praise and laud Yahweh. See Romans 15.8-12.
  2. Psalm 117.2. The reason to praise Yahweh, LORD, is because his lovingkindness is great and his faithfulness-truth is everlasting.
    • There are many reasons to praise the LORD. They include his plan for redemption of creation, his gift of everlasting life through Jesus Christ, giving the Bible, Christian life spiritual blessings for living, prayer and answers to prayer, opportunities to serve him, deliverance from danger, and many others.
    • The foundation for all reasons to praise him is who he is, his character, his nature. We know his character because he revealed himself through his prophets, his leaders, and his writers of Scripture.
    • Lovingkindness refers to Yahweh’s steadfast lovingkindness (hesed חֶ֫סֶד found 249 times in 239 verses in the Hebrew Bible, it is often translated mercy, kindness, or lovingkindness, Strong's 2617) and faithfulness-truth (אֱמֶת emet Strong 571, firmness, faithfulness, truth) are central attributes in his relationship with his people. His lovingkindness is great toward us means that it is powerful, strong, and superior. He excels in his lovingkindness. In this psalm “toward us” is at first the Hebrew nation, but then because all nations and all peoples are addressed we are included.
    • To say that God is faithfulness-truth means that God is true to his nature and to his word. He will act according to His nature. God will fulfill or do what He said He would do. He is dependable. We can always rely on Him. He is always faithful to what he says and to his nature. We have no reason to doubt him. And it is forever, as long as we are alive and even after that (עוֹלָם olam, long time, forever, Strong 5769).
    • The conclusion summarizes the who, what, why, and whom? Everyone is to praise Yahweh because of who he is and what he does. Now, believers praise him. Even unbelievers recognize, in some ways, his blessings. According to Philippians 2.9-11 there will be a day when all people will bow before him and confess him as to be Lord.

So what for us?

  1. This psalm alerts us to Yahweh’s right to praise because of who he is and what he does for us.
  2. We can notice that Yahweh is the most important person in this psalm, that he has revealed himself to the author and through him to people, and that people are to recognize, praise, and extol Yahweh because of who he is and what he does.
  3. Recall Yahweh’s lovingkindness and faithfulness-truth. They are crucial to our life and well-being. Do we understand them and relate to them?
  4. We and all people are to praise the LORD. Believers should recognize this truth, but often do not carry it out. This passage seems to include unbelievers. For them it is a call to recognize the LORD and to bring them to faith in him.