Praise the Lord, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
For great is his steadfast love towards us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever.
Praise the Lord! – Psalm 117
The Psalms are among the best loved books of the Bible. Ask someone to name a psalm and most of will probably start talking about “The Lord is my shepherd.” They’re part of every daily office, every Sunday worship, and often other times. People turn to them in all kinds of situations because there’s usually something somewhere in the psalms that covers just about anything — anxiety, joy, sorrow, anger, depression, questioning and the whole schmear.
I like this one. It’s short, sweet and to the point. There’s no griping about how mean or ruthless other people have been, no “smite my enemies, o Lord,” no accusations and no “Why have you left me alone?” This one is pure praise, and that’s great. Sometimes brevity is a very welcome thing and one emotion is refreshing.
Praising God is a good thing. Even though this is the shortest psalm in the whole book, it’s one that is very focused on that one thing, praise. It acknowledges the goodness of God and the endless love God has for his people. It doesn’t ask for anything, it doesn’t demand, it doesn’t complain about anything, it simply accepts God’s graciousness and is thankful. That, in my book, is a really good thing. It puts the focus of the world in the right place — and that right place isn’t with me and my problems as the center.
I memorized a lot of scripture when I was growing up; it was part of being a member of the church. I wonder — why wasn’t this one of the ones that were emphasized? Why didn’t we learn this one instead of so many about sin and repentance and conversion? Then I have to ask myself, why don’t I just memorize this one now? It’s never too late to practice my memorization skills and certainly not too late to learn one that reflects glory back to God.
It may take a few hours, but I think I’ll give it a shot. Any person who could memorize stuff like Cassius’ speech over the body of Julius Caesar in Shakespearean English or can get through an entire Eucharist without resorting to the BCP should find five short lines a breeze.
Praise the Lord, all you nations! I hear a mental “AMEN!”