Psalm 117 mandates the nations of the world to praise God for His covenantal love for Israel. It makes sense that the recipient of God’s loving-kindness should be the one to thank God. However, why does psalmist require the nations to praise God for what He has done for Jewry? The shortest of all the psalms is theologically one of the most profound for it includes the notion that the fullness of praising God for what He did and continues to do for Israel incorporates humanity to be involved in the practice of it. It also gives insight into the notion of blessing God for a miracle.
According to one Jewish commentator, there are two types of miracle blessings: thanksgiving and praise. The former is said by the beneficiary of the miracle itself. The latter is invoked when a person sees something awe-inspiring. Psalm 117 is dated by some in reference to the defeat of the Assyria Emperor in 2 Kings 19; a mighty and vicious dictator who murdered and exiled the populations of the countries that he conquered. Psalm 117 also has a prophetic voice that applies to our lives today – the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.
The Jewish people have been divorced from their land for nearly 2,000 years. During that time, the nation suffered immeasurable atrocities by the hand of other empires. It seemed that Jewish history was coming to an end when a third of its population was exterminated in the Holocaust. Then in one day a nation was reborn. No other explanation in the world can explain the phenomenon of Israel’s existence today except that God continues to be faithful to His covenantal promise made thousands of years ago to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God never repents of His gifts.
The miracle of Israel today should serve as an inspiration to other nations to bless the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob since they can fully comprehend His kindness to the Jewish nation. The nations of the world have the revealed and hidden historical record of what occurred in the past to eradicate God’s elect. They also know of what is presently transpiring to undermine its status today. Yet, through it all, the State of Israel continues to be a beacon of light to help the world in all areas of our daily living. God has always been with Israel and will continue to protect “the apple of His eye.” The existence of the State of Israel should serve as an inspiration for other nations to praise Him. It is our hope that one day the fullness of Psalm 117 will be witnessed in our lifetime. In the meantime, let us praise God together on Israel’s Independence Day through Psalms 113-118 and tell others about the importance of this day.