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Psalm 117

Universal Call to Worship

1

Praise the Lord, all you nations!

Extol him, all you peoples!

2

For great is his steadfast love toward us,

and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord!


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1 Praise Jehovah, all ye nations. The Holy Spirit having, by the mouth of the prophet, exhorted all nations to celebrate the praises of God’s mercy and faithfulness, Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, very justly considers this as a prediction respecting the calling of the whole world, (Romans 15:11.) How can unbelievers be qualified for praising God, who, though not entirely destitute of his mercy, yet are insensible of it, and are ignorant of his truth? It would therefore serve no purpose for the prophet to address the heathen nations, unless they were to be gathered together in the unity of the faith with the children of Abraham. There is no ground for the censorious attempting, by their sophistical arguments, to refute the reasoning of Paul. I grant that the Holy Spirit elsewhere calls upon the mountains, rivers, trees, rain, winds, and thunder, to resound the praises of God, because all creation silently proclaims him to be its Maker. It is in a different manner that he is praised by his rational creatures. The reason assigned is, that God’s mercy and truth furnish materials for celebrating his praises. Besides, the prophet does not mean that God shall be praised everywhere by the Gentiles, because the knowledge of his character is confined to a small portion of the land of Judea, but because it was to be spread over the whole world. First, he enjoins God to be praised, because his goodness is increased, or strengthened, for the Hebrew term admits of both meanings. Secondly, because his truth remains steadfast for ever How, then, are those qualified to celebrate his praises, who, with brutal insensibility, pass over his goodness, and shut their ears against his heavenly doctrine?

The truth of God, in this passage, is properly introduced as an attestation of his grace. For he can be true even when he menaces the whole world with perdition and ruin. The prophet, however, has placed his mercy first in order that his faithfulness and truth, comprising an assurance of his paternal kindness, might encourage the hearts of the godly. His power and justice are equally praiseworthy; but as men will never cordially praise God until they are drawn by a foretaste of his goodness, the prophet very justly selects God’s mercy and truth, which alone open the mouths of those who are mute to engage in this exercise. When his truth is said to be everlasting, it is not set in opposition to his mercy, as if it, after flourishing for a season, then instantly passed away. The same reason would go to prove, that it was small compared with his mercy, which is said to be abundant. The meaning is, that God’s mercy is rich towards us, flowing in a perennial stream, because united to his eternal truth. If we read, his mercy is confirmed, all difficulty will be removed, for then both constancy and stability will alike adorn his mercy and his truth.

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