Psalm 117

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-04-17 11:16.

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The shortest psalm invites all the nations to praise YHWH. “Nations” parallels “peoples.” Accordingly, all the peoples inhabiting the lands known to the psalmist are called upon to laud YHWH.

What he has done for his people Israel provides the basis for praise, as evident from the preposition ki (for) that introduces the next thought. The psalmist acknowledged that YHWH’s abiding love (Hebrew, chésed) or compassion (Greek, éleos) for his people was great, transcending what might have been expected in view of their serious failures in living up to their covenant obligations. Although Israel often failed to live in harmony with God’s ways, his faithfulness, as the psalmist expressed it, continues for limitless time or, according to the Septuagint, “into the age” or for eternity. His word and promises conveyed through his prophets always proved dependable, and other peoples would have been able to observe this. Fittingly, therefore, all, not just Israel, should praise YHWH as the loving, compassionate, caring, and trustworthy God.

In Romans 15, the opening words of this psalm are quoted among other passages to show that the nations would glorify God for his mercy. The quotations are introduced as follows: “I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (15:8, 9, NRSV)


Regarding YHWH, see Psalm 1.

The quotation of Psalm 117:1 (116:1) in Romans 15:11 is nearly identical, but the word order is slightly different and the conjunction “and” (kaí) links the two phrases.

See Psalm 5 about chésed and éleos.