Tuesday, 14 January 2014
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!”
In the previous verse, Paul used the Torah (the Law) to demonstrate that God’s attention was directed toward the salvation of the Gentiles as well as the Jewish people. Today he will cite another section of the Jewish Scriptures, the Ketuvim (the writings) to witness to the same fact. As a major portion of the writings are to be found in the psalms, he chooses a verse from there. But more than just an arbitrary psalm, he goes to the 117th Psalm. This is a psalm which is notable for several reasons.
1) The 117th Psalm is the shortest chapter in the Bible. It is simple and direct in its purpose and intent.
2) The 117th Psalm is a part of the “Hallel.” This includes Psalms 113-118 and is the portion of the psalms which are openly recited at the time of the Passover. In the New Testament, we read this about the night of the crucifixion –
“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.’ And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Matthew 26:27-30
This “hymn” would have been a portion of the Hallel; the psalms which they would have completed during the Passover meal.
3) After completion of the New Testament, the 117th Psalm is the very center of the Bible. It is as if it is an axis upon which Scripture pivots.
In using the 117th Psalm, and this particular verse from it, we are shown that God’s heart is as equally directed to the salvation of the Gentiles as toward the Jews. This is even more clearly understood when considering that Jesus’ singing of this hymn occurred before His crucifixion. It was as if He were trying to wake the world up to the fact that the cross was intended for all people.
The Israelites were selected for a mission and were set apart for a purpose, but they are not the end of God’s redemptive plan, they are the means in which He would bring it about for all people. In setting Israel apart, God used them to usher in the Messiah, thus bringing Himself glory from both Jew and Gentile.
And so, because of God’s great work in Christ, all people can recite the Hallel, knowing that they were included in Jesus’ thoughts as He went to pray at Gethsemane and then was nailed to that tree. Let the world sing of God’s great act – “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!”
Surely the LORD (Jehovah) has done great things for His people in the Person and work of Jesus.
Life application: God has done the work, but it is incumbent on each person to accept that work. Call on Jesus, be reconciled to God, and Praise the Lord for His mighty deeds.
Heavenly Father, surely Your word testifies to Your love for all people. Both Testaments show Your heart, eyes, and mind are focused on Jew and Gentile alike. You have done the work through Christ, now we must either accept or reject the offer. Me… I receive Jesus – His cross for my sin. What a bargain! Thank You for the cross of my Lord. Amen.