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Thursday, September 8, 2016

PSALM 117


"Praise the Lord, all nations;
Laud Him, all peoples!
For His lovingkindness is great toward us,
And the truth of the Lord is everlasting.
Praise the Lord!"
(verses 1-2)

How come I didn't realize there was such a short chapter in the Psalms that I could have chosen for memory work when I was young?  Now, if I try to memorize a chapter in the Bible, even this short of one, I will be taxed indeed.   Okay, I challenge you to memorize a chapter in the Bible.  You picked this one?  Surprise, surprise.  Okay, cheat and use your fingers on one hand to count off each verse.  Even such a short one can be more closely observed in skeletal form...




Praise,
All nations, peoples;
His lovingkindness,
great;
truth,
everlasting.


In todays polarized setting, Christianity is somehow marginalized in some people's thinking as the white people's religion of bigotry.  Missionary zeal is considered oppressive.  Its words are seen as hate speech.  Its truth we are told by one presidential candidate must evolve.  Yes, we believe this truth that there is only one way to salvation, no other gods, but it is a golden ticket to eternal life that is available to all who will reach out , all nations, all peoples.  This is because it is God's great lovingkindness, His merciful kindness which is great.  "It is strong...it is powerful: it prevails over sin, Stan, death, and hell." (Adam Clarke)  How can we not praise God?


But as in other of David's Psalms, we have the perspective of the prophecy in his words as being fulfilled and the anticipation of what is still promised to be revealed.  It is prophetical in the calling of the Gentiles (Romans 15:11) as quoted by Paul.  In the Jewish world, there are only two kinds of people, Jews and non-Jews.  So it is remarkable that even David here presents this truth as available to all, non-discriminatorily.



One of my favorite phrases in Scripture is in John 3:16 "Whosoever believes."  I've seen the Christian tee shirt that declares, "I am the whosoever."  This is free choice to a world that is drowning in the flood of sin while the door of the ark is still open for salvation. 



Even the grumbling Jews who are rubbed wrong when the "heathen that rage" (the original words the same as what is described in the "all nations" in this Psalm) are not to be excluded in this invitation.  The Jews were called to be God's peculiar people, yes.  But they must accept that we are all at least related from the sons of Noah in DNA as one commentator pointed out.  So the whosoever believes stands: salvation is for Jews and Gentiles.  Paul wrote in Acts the quote from Isaiah42:6, "I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth."

Here's the truth:  "He has promised that He will most infallibly fulfill:  He has promised to send His Son into the world,--and thus He has done.  He has promised that He should die for transgressors;--and this He did.  He has promised to receive all who come unto him through Christ Jesus:--and this He invariably does.  He has promised that His gospel shall be preached in every nation;--and this He is doing.  The truth of the Lord remaineth forever; therefore, Praise ye the Lord!"...

"Praise Him for the promise of salvation;--and then, when fulfilled, praise Him for the enjoyment of this salvation,--for the remission of sins, and gift of the Holy Ghost...His mercy is great;--it is strong; confirmed towards us, in sending His Son to save both Jews and Gentiles from their sins...
There will never be another Messiah: Jesus is the true One; He tasted death for every man; He forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; and His blood cleanses from all unrighteousness."
(Adam Clarke)


Matthew Henry calls this "The unsearchable riches of gospel-grace...In the gospel those celebrated attributes of God, His mercy and His truth, shine most brightly."

I just want to pause and think about the underbelly of the whosoever believes, the ones we are uncomfortable with when they walk into our church and sit by us.  I will have to admit that the success rate of their lives changing because of this gospel-grace is small, but it can and does happen.  Over the many, many years of our ministry we have had in our congregation those who have attempted murder, thieves, child molesters, homosexuals, a witch, alcoholics and drug addicts galore, adulterers, and even a rapist who went to prison after he raped another woman during his own wedding reception.  (How would you like to counsel that bride?  Well, she became a Christian.)
The door not often used.  See the cobwebs?

I Corinthians 6:9-11 says...

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived;
neither fornicators, nor idolaters,
nor adulterers,
nor effeminate, not homosexuals,
nor thieves, nor the covetous,
nor drunkards, nor revilers,
nor swindlers,
will inherit the kingdom of God.
Such were some of you;
but you were washed,
but you were sanctified,
but you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and in the Spirit of our God."


Yep.  This Psalm is small, but it packs a wallop in the "all,"
in the merciful kindness, the greatness of His truth.
Somehow I don't think the Psalmist even considered all of this when he wrote this.
I think he was just strumming away and singing and praising the Lord.
But God multiplied His words to feed all of us since then,
both Jews and Greeks together.

Umm, and don't quiz me on if I've memorized this chapter yet.
I'm still working on it.







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