Read: Psalm 117; 1 Corinthians 14:8; Leviticus 25:9; Nehemiah 4:20; Joel 2:1; 2 Samuel 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4 -6; Ephesians 5:13 – 14
Psalm 117 is the fifth Psalm in the series of Psalms called the Great Hallel that were sung by Jews during the Passover meal. The most familiar Hebrew word for praise, halal, is used in conjunction with the Lord’s name in Psalm 117:1 to make the single Hebrew word hallelujah. Halal means to praise– in reference to sound, to praise with a clear distinct sound; in reference to sight, to shine forth. Praise should be both intelligible and lucid.
Think About It: In the Old Testament references for today, what were some of the uses of the sound of the trumpet? What do the New Testament references for today say about the relationship between “light” and worship?
Prayer: For my worship to be intelligible and lucid.
Read: Psalm 117:1, 63:3, 147:12; 89:9; Ecclesiastes 8:15; 1 Chronicles 16:35
The second imperative to praise God in Psalm 117:1 uses shabach which means to praise, laud, commend, to triumph and glory in the object of praise. While halal refers to the quality of praise – its clarity and lucidity — shabach refers to its content, in reference to commending, and lauding the object of praise. Shabach also implies the effect of praise on the one doing the praising.
Think About It: The Scripture references for today include other examples of the use of the word shabach. How can I go about commending or lauding the Lord in my worship? Do I “glory,” “boast,” and “triumph” in God?
Prayer: For my worship to commend and laud the Lord.
Read: Psalm 117:1; Ephesians 3:4 – 6; Psalm 2:1; Romans 9:24 – 26
Psalm 117:1 unveils a mystery — who shall praise the Lord? The answer: “All nations. . .
all people.” The same pairing of concepts — nations (Hebrew goyim) and people — is found in Psalm 2:1 where the nations and people are hostile to God. Yet in Psalm 117:1 they are called to praise Him! The Gentiles, once the enemies of God and His people, will be transformed into God’s people (Romans 9:24 – 26).
Think About It: Other places where this “mystery” regarding the Gentiles is revealed in Scripture include 2 Samuel 22:50, Deuteronomy 32:43, Isaiah 11:10, and Ephesians 3:4 – 6. According to Ephesians 2:11 – 22, how did God bring about this miraculous transformation of the Gentiles?
Prayer: Praise God for the privilege of being included among His people.
Read: Psalm 117:2, 119:76; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; James 5:11
Psalm 117:2 reveals a core truth about God: that He possesses “merciful kindness,” which translates the Hebrew word chesed. Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies defines chesed as “that which is abundant, extraordinary, or uncommon; goodness, kindness, and beneficence. The full flow of natural affection . . .the corresponding word in Arabic is used of the flowing of the mother’s milk to her young; it is used of the goodness and abundant grace of God to His own people; His free favor and faithfulness.” Richardson’s Theological Word Book of the Bible adds that “Chesed signifies that continued forbearance of God by which He keeps covenant (Deuteronomy 7:9) with Israel, even when Israel is slow to keep His commandments.”
Think About It: What are some biblical examples of God’s “merciful kindness” that illustrate His uncommon, extraordinary goodness? What are some examples that illustrate God’s merciful kindness in keeping His promise even when His people are slow to keep His commandments?
Prayer: That I will not be slow in keeping God’s commandments.
Read: Psalm 117:2; Isaiah 63:7; Romans 5:8 8:37; Ephesians 1:8; 2:7
Psalm 117:2 does not leave the concept of God’s “merciful kindness” in the abstract, but tells us that attribute of God is great towards us. The Hebrew for “great,” gaw-bar, means that which is strong and prevailing. This application of God’s merciful kindness is crucial because our sin deserves His wrath (Psalm 85:4) and our weakness requires tenderness.
Think About It: Do I really believe that my sin deserves God’s wrath? What are some specific ways in which I have experienced God’s merciful kindness?
Prayer: Thank God for His merciful kindness towards me.
Read: Psalm 117:2, 31:5, 100:5, 146:6; Jeremiah 10:10; John 14:6; 17:17
Psalm 117:2 reveals another core truth about God: that His truth endures forever. The Hebrew word for truth is hemeth and means reliability, dependability, and the ability to perform what is required. The truth of God is not merely abstract information, it is power at work.
Think About It: How does the truth of God differ from worldly wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:20 – 21; 2:6 – 7)? How would I answer Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”
Prayer: Praise God for His revelation of the truth in Christ and His Word.
Read: Psalm 117:2, 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; Luke 16:17; 1 Peter 1:24 – 25
God’s truth is, according to Psalm 117:2 in the Hebrew, “ o-lawm” meaning perpetual, old, ancient time, long time (of past); everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity (of future).
Think About It: Given the eternal nature of God’s truth – and the presence of that truth in Scripture (John 17:17) — what should I be doing with God’s Word? Am I committed to the study, and application of God’s truth in my life?
Prayer: That my life might manifest God’s truth.