Psalm 117:1-2 Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love towards us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever.
Praise the Lord.
As the shortest Psalm, this is also the shortest chapter in the whole Bible. It strikes me as significant that if you aren’t going to say much, this is what you should say. And what is it? It is an invitation to all mankind to praise God, because He is just so good. It focuses on two parts of God’s goodness: His love (the Japanese says grace) and His faithfulness. His love is far better than we deserve, which makes it grace, and it’s not just a flash in the pan, but is rather eternal. That’s worth getting happy and telling other people about! The NIV renders the last line as “Praise the Lord,” but in a footnote they concede that in Hebrew it says “Hallelu Yah.” That’s probably the best-known Hebrew expression in the world, understood practically everywhere as an expression of praise and joy. Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from his Messiah oratorio is justly famous, and it was certainly chill-inducing to see video of 2,000,000 protesters in Hong Kong singing that word just recently. They were far from all Christian, but they understood the word and what it meant, and they were singing it in defiance of the oppressive Communist Chinese government. That is powerful indeed! I think this is probably what the Old Testament is talking about when it mentions “the shout of joy,” or “the festal shout,” in several places. (The NIV doesn’t render it that way.) In all simplicity it is, “Yahweh (the Creator) be praised.” We can do nothing better than to praise Him ourselves, and to invite others to do so with us.
I was enormously blessed to be raised in a family that loved God and loved to sing praises to Him, but it wasn’t until I was exposed to the Charismatic Movement around 1973 that I started to move into a deeper level of praising God. I haven’t had the most difficult of lives, (though it certainly hasn’t all been easy) but I have even learned the reality of Job’s famous statement: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15) To be honest, in my memory that was recorded as, “Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him.” I have learned that praising God is the ultimate cure for depression. (Isaiah 61:3) I have come to the conviction that there is no circumstance in which it is NOT appropriate to praise God! I cannot force anyone to do it with me, but I can set the example and seek to explain why, (1 Peter 3:15) and that will be the best form of evangelism.
Father, thank You for this reminder, and for how You’ve been teaching me this over the years. Help me not “leave it on the shelf” as simply abstract truth, but rather live it out in every area of my life, to give You the glory You deserve and attract as many people as possible to You, for their salvation. Thank You. Hallelujah!