“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth forever. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalms 117 KJV)
Praise! It is the key word in this Psalm. I get frustrated reading commentaries from Matthew Henry, John Gill, Keil & Delitzsch, John Darby, Adam Clarke, and Albert Barnes as they focus on the fact that this is a call, or even a prelude, to the Gentiles joining the Jews in praising the Lord. Nevertheless, it is to me a reminder that commentators need to stop and consider the scripture a little more closely just like the rest of us. The frustration draws out in me the point that it is not whether they are right or I am right. It is not whether it is the Jew or the Gentile that is doing the praising. It is not even whether this offer of a relationship with the Lord is going to be, or has been, or is now being offered to any other group than it was given to as much as it is a call to praise!
Consider for a moment the actual term “praise”. As it is used here, praise literally is to “be clear”. It is to be clear like a clear sound or seeing in clear color. Have you ever listened to a favorite song and enjoyed it more as it was tuned in clearer? Perhaps you even bought it digitally mastered on cd and played it on a really clear sound system. Likewise, have you ever watched your favorite sports team and enjoyed it more as the picture came in better, as it was projected onto a bigger and clearer screen, or even as you went to see them play live? Do you remember what Paul mentions in his famous chapter on love? “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV) Clarity! God’s love does not blind, but rather reveals things for what they really are. God’s love is not impatient due to our lack of time, but rather gives us the perspective of eternity. Praise is our call, and to those around us, to be clear. Compare with Acts chapter 28. “For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Acts 28:27 KJV)
Praise may be verbal. Praise may be emotional. Praise may be extremely physically demanding. Yet most of all praise is clear. Praise may or may not be precise, but it is always accurate. I remind the reader that precision is how consistent you are and accuracy is how close you are to the target. The beauty to me of this Psalm is that the Psalmist really does not care so much who “all nations” is in so much as he knows that whoever you are that there is a very real need for every individual to be very clear who God is. Can anyone see value in spending time in the Word or daily turning over your concerns to God in prayer in being able to enhance our clarity of who God is? Once you are clear about who God is then we can be clear about whom we are. After we are clear about who God is and who we are we can also be clear about who our neighbor is. Let us substitute the words “be clear about” back into the passage…
O be clear about the LORD, all ye nations: be clear about him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth forever. Be ye clear about the LORD.
At the very least, it is an interesting exercise. Does it help as you mediate on His Word (see Joshua 1:8)? You will notice as you are clear about God that it may appear as boasting to those who are in the dark and do not know God. It is common for someone who has never seen the light and enjoys darkness to disbelieve that there is a light which makes things clear all around. Once the light switch comes on, all doubts about meaning and gray areas disappear.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV)