This shortest Psalm seems almost unremarkable, being simply an instruction to praise the Lord for his love and faithfulness. However, in its time, this instruction probably seemed far more remarkable to the Israelites because of the phrase “all you nations”.
Before Jesus, before the apostles, the Lord was very much seen as the God of Israel. Only a couple of days ago we read how the other nations would ask, “Where is their God?” meaning the God of Israel. It was the nation of Israel that God made covenant with, led out of slavery, gave the law to and delivered to the promised land.
Yet this Psalm looks forward to a day when relationship with, and worship of God would be open to all, no longer carried out through complex sacrifices and rituals done by an established priesthood, but available to gentiles as well as Jews, from every nation of the world.
Centuries later, when Paul was explaining his ministry to the gentiles, he quoted from Psalm 117. Because of what Jesus had accomplished, Paul was able to proclaim the gospel to all nations “from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum” (Rom 15:19).
“Accept one another, then,” says Paul, “just as Christ has accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (v7). Centuries before Jesus, it must have seemed almost impossible that gentiles of all nations would worship God yet now we almost take it for granted.
God is for all people, all nations. Are there people today who we could hardly imagine praising God? Groups who are hard to reach with the gospel? God is the God of the impossible. Let us not give up praying for those who do not yet know him.
Meditation verse: For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.