Psalm 117 - Praises
Psalm 117:1-2 NIV
Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples.
For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.
This is the shortest psalm of all, and the most concise in conveying God’s intention. God desires “all you nations” and “all you peoples” , i.e., all of us, to praise Him, “For great is His love toward us”. We praise God also because "He is good" (Psalm 107:1). We praise Him not because we are obliged to. But when we can see how much God loves us and how good God is, we will praise Him.
Can we find reasons to praise God? If we can’t and yet praise Him with our mouth but not with our hearts, then we should get back to the basics of knowing God again. It is not too late to admit, “I don’t know God” or “I can’t find the reason to praise Him”.
I’ve found myself in that situation before, not knowing what to praise God about. When we struggle to praise God, it is because we’ve forgotten God’s great love for us and become unfamiliar with the goodness of Jesus. We need to get back to studying the Bible intently, and discuss with one another who Jesus is and why he deserves our praise.
When we do not find goodness in God, how do we describe our praises to Him then? Are they even praises at all? If we strive to meet God’s commands without gratitude for what He has done for us, doesn’t that make God out to be one who demands compliance without love? The number of times that ‘praise’ and its derivatives and other similar words appear in the Bible is countless. God desires praises from all of us because of His love for us.
The psalm wasn’t directed specifically to Israel. It was sung by the Jews to call out to other nations to extol God. How are we helping others to praise God? Paul told the Jews in Rome, “And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.’” (Romans 15:11 ESV) Gentiles have always had a place in God’s heart too and He wants them to praise Him as well.
How great is God’s love for us? God’s love for us is huge. He accepted us while we were sinful creatures totally unworthy of His forgiveness. His love is strong even while our love for Him was weak or non-existent. The cross sends the message of God’s powerful love, so strong even while we were weak, and it is His love that pulled us back to Him. His love is so deep that He is willing to go to great depths to save us. His love is so wide that He bridges the huge chasm between Him and us.
Seeking God isn’t an end to achieve, but the means for us to know God and praise Him. Baptism is not an end to a process but the start of our journey to know God and make Him known to others. God deserves our praises. When we know how great He is and what He has done for us, we will praise Him gratefully. God’s journey with mankind, Jesus’ life, and his death on the cross demonstrate the magnitude of God’s love for us. He deserves unlimited praises from everyone.
God doesn’t desire us to merely have head knowledge; He desires praises from our hearts. Many find it hard to believe in God, not because they deny that there is a Creator or that Jesus is God, but because they have yet to find the reasons to praise Him. Haven’t we met some who acknowledge that Jesus is Lord but are still not convinced to become Christians? There are also those who fall away from God despite knowing these truths.
In order to be steadfast in our faith in God, we must have genuine praises from our hearts. We ought to enjoy God every moment or we will find Christianity really tough. All work and no play make Jack (us), the dull boy who will eventually leave God.
God’s love is worthy of our praise, but we cannot forget or dismiss God’s faithfulness. It deserves a distinction from His love.
God’s faithfulness is eternal and “endures forever”. God is faithful in His promises. He told Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
Do not doubt that God loves us despite our doubled mindedness and straying away away from Him. God’s faithfulness to us is eternal and ever lasting. The moment we decide to turn back to Him, He is there. It is unfair to God that we can be unfaithful and decide to turn back to Him anytime. But this is the abundance of His faithfulness towards us. God is always there for us because He is faithful.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.