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Recently on these Bible Study Pages we made a little journey through the 117th Psalm. 

Our findings are recorded here for your edification.

Truly it's a Passage of great beauty and wisdom.

There's no doubt in my mind that the Bible is the infallible Word of God!

              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 A Preacher in his Study


Introductory lesson:

I would today like to look at the shortest Psalm in the whole Bible!

"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 for ever. Praise ye the LORD."  (Psalm 117)

There it is!  (It only has two verses!)

*  Someone said of the Psalm --- "It is exceedingly small in letters ... but exceedingly large in spirit!"

*  Another said --- "It is both short ... and sweet!"

*  Even an Apostle (Paul) preaches from it in Romans 15:11!  (A direct quote from Psalm 117!)  "And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people."

*  Another believes it was used by the Jews to both open and close their Temple services!  (As sort of a "doxology!")

*  Still another points out the great doctrines it either contains or mentions in "seed" form! For example, embedded in this two verse sermon is the vital truth:  "Whosoever will may come!" ("All ye nations!") 

*  While admittedly in "embryonic" form, the Gospel appears here also.  See that little word "kindness?"  It is the Old Testament word for GRACE!  And see that little word "truth?"  The way it is spelled in Hebrew, it typifies the Lord Jesus Christ!  Here we have "grace and truth!"  Jesus (John says) is full of "Grace and Truth!" (John 1:14)  Is not Jesus' Death, Burial and Resurrection the very heart of the New Testament message of "Grace and Truth." 

*  And this little Psalms does a good job of introducing us to worship!  Jesus says that worship must be done in "Spirit and in Truth!"  John 4:24 --- "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."  Both are present here!

*  It also teaches us conclusively that the Word of God is eternal!  Plainly it tells us that the Truth of the Lord endureth for ever!  "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven."  Psalm 119:89

*  Old Matthew Henry believed that verse 1 tells us what to do!  And that verse 2 tells us how to do it! 

*  In the Psalm we have GRACE ("merciful kindness") and TRUTH!  But a little word keeps being repeated --- PRAISE  (3 times in fact)!  Remember that this PRAISE will only be complete when we get to heaven and join in the great throng who are glorifying His Name even now!  When we get there and join in magnifying Him ... that will be called GLORY!  So ... in a real way ...  this Psalms begins with grace and ends with GLORY (with Truth right in the middle)!  That's the very essence of the Christian experience!  (GRACE ... TRUTH ... GLORY!)  Maybe this little text tells it all in microcosm!  (Look at how John 1:14 combines these great words also!)

*  Lastly for today notice that the Psalms begins and ends with the same words!  "O praise the Lord!" (verse 1)  AND "Praise ye the Lord!"  (verse 2)  This literary device is called "inclusio" and usually tells us the genuine motive of an author!  This Psalm is all about praising HIM!

We've just been in a whole field of "nuggets" I believe.

I have enjoyed studying with you all today!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



Verse 1:

I really think the Lord is forming this Psalm 117 material into a message for this preacher to share with others!

Give me another day with this shortest of all the Psalms please.

I noticed how very close it is placed (in numerical order) to the longest of all the Psalms!

Number 117 is the shortest.  Psalm 119 is the longest (by far)!

The same Holy Spirit who "expatiates" in Psalm 119, condenses in Psalm 117!  (To "expatiate" is to write or speak in a lengthy manner!  The Latin noun "spatium" means space or room!) 

Scripture is sweet either way!

The first three definitions given in a standard Hebrew dictionary for the word "praise" in verse one are:  To "be clear!"  Then "to shine!"  Next, to "make a show" (in a good sense)!  To put something worthy on display!  In other words ... when one praises the Lord he or she will reflect such in his countenance (on her face)!  One lexicon suggests that the word also means "to boast."  (To brag on the Lord!)  There's No One like Him!  (The Hebrew word: "halal")

Our verb here is an imperative ... meaning it presents a command!  We have no choice!  It is our duty to brag on the dear Lord!  The verb furthermore is in the Piel stem --- indicating that the action is to be intensive!  Really diligently praise Him! 

The Name of God in view here (three times in the little Psalm) is LORD.  That King James rendering always indicates Jehovah!  (The eternal God Who IS!)

The noun "nations" (Hebrew = "goy") means people (lots of them) ... so many that a nation is involved!  (It is usually used of non-Jewish peoples too.)  Actually the idea is more like that of "the Gentiles!"  Here the whole world is being invited to come and adore Him!  It is very close to being a Gospel invitation!

And the word "people" in the verse is somewhat parallel to "nations."  It is a wider ranging noun that means "a collection" of people!  (A "community" one source says.) I would just say that any group of folks who have a yearning to really praise the Lord are a specially "collected" people.  (A "called out" assembly!  A "chosen" people!) 

I am NOT preaching the New Testament church (as a doctrine) in the Old Testament Scriptures here.  I want to rightly divide the Word ... but there are definitely HINTS and FORESHADOWINGS of coming Things!

Lastly (for today) is the second use of the verb "praise" in our little verse.  It is a different word altogether!  (I love it when the Holy Spirit does that!)  "Shabach" means "to address in a loud tone!" 

Again we have a Piel Imperative verb! It is intense and aggressive in action!  And it is a command that we do so praise the Lord!

BUT there is a little unique distinction with this verb that I want us to notice.  Its root meaning carries the idea:  to soothe, to still or even to pacify (as if by words)!  I believe the word is telling us that one of the greatest ways to calm oneself (bringing peace and contentment) is just to PRAISE the Lord!


Pass me the "nugget" bag please!

(And order me a larger size while you're at it!)

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



Verse 2:

I never thought we would spend three days in the shortest Psalm of all! But thatís exactly what weíve done. (And I sure have enjoyed it. In fact, this will be preached by a Brother Bagwell of Cumming, Georgia, sometime soon.)

I just never realized that there was so much in these two little verses.

But ... I promise (Lord willing) this is the last day for Psalm 117!

We are ready for verse two.

"For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD."

The term "merciful kindness" is just one Hebrew word. It is "chesed" (pronounced kheí- sed). It originally means "to bow down." It is a picture here of God coming down to where we (lost dying sinners) are and providing us the Way of Salvation! Additionally the word comes to mean "covenant love." That implies the love of a husband to a wife and vice versa. It pictures God Himself being our Husband. (Vowing to love and protect us in all circumstances of life!) Wow! Furthermore this word is only used when grace is shown from a greater Person to a lesser person! GOD IS GREATER and we are just sinners! But I am a glad recipient of His kindness, arenít you? (John 3:30 --- "He must increase, but I must decrease.")

The adjective "great" is Hebrew "gabar" and is a bit of an unusual word. (Only 25 times in the whole Bible.) Predominantly it is translated to "prevail!" It literally means "to be STRONG!" (In the King James Version it is once translated "exceeded." And once more ... "stronger!") I promise you the Lordís good Grace is stronger and stronger and stronger than anything we shall ever know!

And it is "toward us!" The preposition "toward" is (Hebrew = "al") a word that means over, above, upon, and even against (in the sense of support)!

The noun "truth" (Hebrew = "emeth") is interesting! Look at the way it is spelled in Hebrew (reading from right to left).  It begins with their letter "A" and ends with their letter "T." (Aleph and Tav) Their basic word for TRUTH begins with the first letter of their alphabet and ends with the last letter of their alphabet! You could say that in Hebrew TRUTH is associated with the first and the last (the beginning and the end)! All you Bible students know Who That is --- Jesus Christ the Son of God!

The verb "endureth" is italicized. That means it has been supplied by the King James Translators to augment the meaning more clearly. The Hebrew text (Masoretic Text) simply says: The Truth of the Lord ... For Ever!

"For ever" literally means " the vanishing point." Something moved farther and farther away until it can no longer be seen (but is still there)! His Word is eternal!

Then the verse (and the Psalm) ends with the exhortation "Praise ye the Lord." This is quite literally "Hallelujah!" So we now (at the very end) have a second rendering of Godís great Name Jehovah! It is in the text "Jah!" This is then the fourth time Godís Name appears in two short verses!

Truly one may say that this Psalm is ALL ABOUT HIM!

May God bless these thoughts to our hearts and give us a "Bible Nugget" or two to nourish our souls today I pray.

I wonder if this verse is telling us that the Lordís kindness will lead us to His Word? Or is it saying that His Word will lead us to His kindness?

Perhaps both are true!

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



Now to Romans 15:11 (Where Paul quotes Psalm 117 in the New Testament):

This afternoon (right after church) I would like to share with you a verse Paul wrote to the Romans.

It is found in Romans 15:11.

"And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people."

Paul is quoting from Psalm 117 here.  He has been preaching about the fact that even the Gentiles can be saved by God's marvelous grace!

The word here for "Gentiles" is the Greek term "ethnos."  (Our word "ethnic" used in reference to peoples of different racial backgrounds)  Aren't you glad Jesus died for sinners ... wherever they are?  1 John 2:2 declares:  "And He is the Propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

The second term for the inhabitants of this world, "people," is a noun meaning (Greek = "laos") people of the same stock and language!  (People with things in common ... even birth heritage!)

God can save a bunch of stragglers (even like me) ... or He can save nice refined folks with significant traceable backgrounds!   Praise His Name!  He saved the Governor of Cyprus (Acts 13) or the demon possessed maniac of Gadara (Mark 5)!  Red and yellow, black and white ... they're all precious in His sight!

But what really brought my heart to this verse today is the double usage of the words for praise ("praise" and "laud")! 

Praise is the Greek verb "aineo" and means "to extol, to sing praises to, or even to honor."  It comes from a little stem meaning "a story"  (a laudation)!  Look at that!  Praising God for a story.  (The GOSPEL Story!)  There are a lot more stories or Biblical accounts for which I praise Him too!

I love these Bible "word pictures!"  Oh!  Tell me the STORY of Jesus (again and again)!

The second word for praise ("laud") means about the same thing but with one nuance we must notice.  The Greek word is "epaineo" and obviously is built upon the root of our previous word (just discussed)!  Therefore it means "to extol or honor" ... but has an added prefix ("epi").  This addition means "upon!" It actually intensifies the action!

In the first part of the verse God is praised!  In the last part of the verse the Lord is VIGOROUSLY praised!

That's my very point today!  Praising Him leads to MORE praising Him!  And that leads to more diligent praising Him!  And that leads to laudation!  (It just keeps growing and growing, doesn't it?)  Before you know it ... even some of us Baptists might be "shouting" praises to Him!

Let me promise you today on the authority of God's Holy Word ... some day (the Second Coming of our Lord after Armageddon and at the beginning of His Millennial rule) all peoples Will praise Him!  (More and more!)

I will be in on that too!  (And so will you believers!)

Let me close by saying (what else?) ... PRAISE THE LORD!

That's today "Bible Nugget."

                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

(I just didn't think we could leave out this great verse in which Psalm 117 is quoted in Paul's Epistle to the Romans, one of the greatest letters ever written in all of history!)



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