The Self Interest of God (Psalm 117)

4 05 2006

Psalm 117:1-2 Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! 2For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!

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From the mouth of children-The Purpose Driven GOD!
In talking about this Psalm with my children last night I asked them why it is that God commands us to praise him. My 6 year old son, Luke, quickly answered, “Because God is greedy for praise..” He then quickly added, “in a good way!”.

I believe his simple explanation is quite accurate here in the 117th Psalm. God is indeed greedy for praise, not in a sinfully selfish way, but rather in a divinely glorious and intolerant way. God is incessantly pursuing his own supremacy in all things, including the affections of us his creation.

This only makes sense. God has made all things for to draw attention to his perfect character, so we too as his creation are to reflect his glory. In this text we have the gracious reminder and exhortation to do what we have been created to do, namely to agree with God concerning his ‘praise-worthiness’ and so therefore passionately engage in the personal promotion of God’s supremacy.

Notice also the boundless radius of this command; it covers not only all countries, but all peoples!! This Psalm is depicting the necessary eradication of all borders and barriers when we are talking about the praising of Jehovah! The God of the Bible is not concerned with receiving glory from only one race or nation, but rather from all races and all nations! For it is God who has created all of the people within all of the nations for the purpose of ascribing glory to his name.

I love the two reasons here for this command for radical praise: 1) great lovingkindness, 2) eternal truth.

Great Lovingkindess-
God has been exceedingly abundant in his lovingkindness towards his creation; blessing all with life and the subsequent enjoyment that comes with it. However, here to the Jew this song would speak of their great covenant love as expressed through the redemption from Egypt and the faithful love that has preserved and blessed the nation as they anticipated their Messiah. It is interesting to consider that this Psalm, included in the Hallel, would have most likely been song by our Lord, the ultimate redeemer, during the Passover meal with his disciples. I was encouraged today as a friend pointed this out to me.

Consider the scene as the living and incarnate Word sung the revealed Word to the Father?! What a pristine picture of glory!! Imagine the beauty of hearing the Son of God extol the lovingkindness of the Father? We know of his lovingkindness through Jesus, but Jesus knows of his lovingkindness through both the backdrop of eternal joy which was his with the Father, as well as the infinite cost that was spent to redeem sinners to the praise of the glory of his grace.

Eternal Truth-
The eternal nature of divine truth is also praiseworthy! There are no expiration dates on the truth, it does not diminish its sweetness and character, it is truth forever because its source is the eternal and unchanging character of God. How refreshing is it to know that the truth does not change? We as believers are defending the same body of doctrine today that the apostles and early church defended (Jude 3)!

I can praise God because his lovingkindness is great and his truth is eternal! I can praise him because he gives grace to understand this, grace that rescues me in and from my sin to behold his greatness and enjoy his character.

God’s loving character is exalted in the powerful display of the redemption of unwilling sinners, even converting us from enemies (Rom. 5.10) to become friends (Jn. 15.13-15) who are eager to sing praises such as this! Praise the LORD!

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