Psalm 117 – Singing Signposts

Psalm 117

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.


Psalm 117 is the shortest Psalm in the Bible. In fact it is the shortest chapter also, (narrowly beating three other Psalms, 131, 133, and 134, and Esther 10, all with three verses). Yet in just these two verses there is wonderful truth staring us in the face that might be easy to miss. To help unpack that truth I’m going to take these verses in reverse order.

It can be tempting to think that before Jesus, God’s chosen people Israel, were the only ones God loved, and the only ones whose sins He forgave–that God’s plan did not include people outside of Israel’s descendants, until Paul became the apostle to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.

In fact Paul quotes Psalm 117 in Romans 15 as part of his argument that the Gospel is also for the Gentiles, and yet, it was written as a Psalm of praise crying out for all nations to praise God hundreds of years before Christ.

Now note verse 2 — there is nothing of a future tense promise of God’s love one day enveloping the Gentiles. No! “For great is his love towards us… for ever”. God already loves the nations – yes – right here in the Old Testament, and His faithfulness endures forever.

Now lets re-read verse 1, to see what this great love and enduring faithfulness should cause us to do. Yes – praise Him, but not just in a private way, between you and God. Note the second phrase… extol him, all you peoples. That is, explain the virtues and greatness of God to others – talk about how good He is. Declare his character to those around you.

It was always God’s plan that God’s people should be set apart and live lives that point to the glory of God, so that all the nations might be drawn to God, and thus might be saved.

If you are a follower of Jesus, then you now have the same role Israel did – to point others to God. As Peter says in 1 Peter 2:12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 

As you meditate on this Psalm today, ponder how your life might extol God’s goodness to those around you. May he bless you as you endeavour to do so.

James Boswell