Psalm 117:1-2 (ESV)

Praise the Lord, all nations!

Extol him, all peoples!

[2] For great is his steadfast love toward us,

and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord!

The Old Testament is often considered to be about salvation for the Jews and the New an expansion of that to the Gentiles as well. But the salvation of God has always been a worldwide enterprise. It is true that the plan for the salvation of the whole world was not completely revealed before Christ. But it is there. It is in the promises of God to Adam and Eve. It is the intention of the covenant with Abraham. It is spoken by all the prophets. The Old Testament is not absent of the universal call and universal salvation. This Psalm calls upon all the nations of the world to give praise to God. The reason they should give praise to God is that His love and faithfulness are for the whole world – even in the days of the Psalmist.

For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever

There is the Gospel right there.

Love and faithfulness.

What all the nations deserve is judgement. Love comes and offers them salvation and hope and a return to a relationship with God that the fall destroyed. “Praise God for His love” in verse 1 takes us to john 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”, or Romans 5:8 “God shows His love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us”, or I John 4:10 – 1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

God should indeed be praised for His love. But do not reduce the love of God to the good things that happen to you today. Those things happen to you by the hand of a loving God, but they pale in comparison to the work of Christ in bringing many sons to glory through His death and resurrection and intercession and return.

The Psalm does not end with talking about the love of God. It moves on to praise God for His faithfulness. His faithfulness, we are told, endures forever. So, God, in love, sends His Son into the world to redeem sinners. He promises that all who come to Him He will in no way cast out. He promises eternal life. He promises His presence in this life and the next. And He cannot but be faithful to all those promises and more.

“… the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” in verse 2 takes us to II Timothy 2:13 – “… He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself”, and I John 1:9 “… He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins …”, and II Peter 3:9 “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise …”. In love He comes to save us. In faithfulness He keeps His Word to us and honours the work of the Son.

Our God is a great God who has done more than we can ask or imagine. He loves us and He is faithful. What a marvelous combination of characteristics. As the Psalm says in closing “Praise the Lord!”.

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