Joining The Global Choir

JDudgeon on June 25, 2023
Joining The Global Choir
June 25, 2023

Joining The Global Choir

Passage: Psalm 117
Message By:
Service Type:

Introduction to the Psalm and its value

• On January 30th, 2011, the largest choir which consisted of 121,440 people and was
organized by The Art of Living in India. The organization for this massive event
used 2,429 stewards (these would be the ones assisting the director by overseeing
sections of the choir) and the choir sang in unison, so they are singing the exact
same thing at the exact same time together for over 5 minutes. Not surprisingly,
since 2011 the choir has been listed in the Guinness World Records as the largest
choir in the world.
• Can you imagine what it would be like to be there? How powerful that could
sound? All these people singing together, its quite amazing. Now with that in mind,
we come to the smallest Psalm, Psalm 117, it can be quick and easy to read over,
but when we slow down, we see a Psalm that provides us with a vision of people
singing together that is much greater than the largest choir in the world to this day.
This Psalm calls us to join the global choir, why?... lets dive into these two rich
verses to find out.
Background on Psalm 117
• For Psalm 117, is clearly a Psalm of praise and though the author and setting are
unknown that does not take away from its bold and clear message. We do though,
know where and how it was used among God’s people in Israel.
• Psalm 117 is among a cluster of Psalms understood as “The Egyptian Hallel Psalms.”
The cluster was Psalm 113-118. They were called “Egyptian” because of their later
connection to the Jewish Passover meal celebrating how God powerfully delivered
His people from their enemies Egypt in the book of Exodus. Psalm 114, is most
clearly written about this event. Then “Hallel” is hebrew for “praise” which is the
theme of these Psalms. In fact, the phrase “Hallelu-Yah”, which we hear often,
means “praise the Lord.”
• These Psalm were apart of tradition up to the time of the first century. Now, how
were those Psalms used in the passover meal? — The family celebration of Passover
was a gathering in the first century that had a simple order and rhythm: roasted
lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs and four cups of wine. After the fourth cup,

which is called the cup of rest, the family would read or sing “a hymn,” which is
usually Psalms 115-118. It is helpful to see how these Psalms were used, and I want
you to keep this in mind as we continue into the text as it will be helpful later. So,
with that background lets move into the passage.. bringing us to verse 1/point 1

1. The Call to Praise the Lord

1. “Praise the Lord (Hallelujah), all nations! Extol Him, all peoples!” Now what is
immediately surprising about this verse is who it is directed too: All Nations
and All peoples. Much of the Psalms are directed to the people of Israel, but the
focus in this one is different. How does this work? It is not likely that this
message was actually broadcasted to all the nations, unless it refers to those
from foreign parts attending a feast. It is better to see this Psalm as the
psalmist's aspiration for the nations to Praise the Lord.
• Why would this verse be concerned for all nations to praise the Lord? Because
God’s heart is for the nations! Psalm 117 echos God’s desire for blessing the
nations through Abraham and His offspring in Genesis 12:2-3. As the calling of
Israel was for the sake of the whole world, let me read some key passages..
• Starting with — Genesis 12:2-3 which says “And I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will
bless those who bless you, and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you all
the families of the earth shall be blessed.”;
• Exodus 19:5-6 also says, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep
my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the
earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These
are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”;
• Finally, a portion of what King Solomon prays at the dedication of the Temple in
1 Kings 8:41-43, “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes
from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and
your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward
this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the
foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name
and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I
have built is called by your name.”

• These are few scriptures concerning God’s heart for the nations, we haven’t
tapped into the other Psalms, Isaiah and many others. In any case, the calling of
the nations to praise the Lord should be no surprise but a voicing of God’s desire.
2. Praising & Extolling the Lord - Now from verse 1 we see who the Psalm is
directed to and what they are to do: praise and extol the Lord (Yahweh). But
what did it mean for them do so? — “Praise” meant to sing praises to God, then
“extol him” clarifies what kind of praises to sing, as it means “to glorify and
make exuberant statements as to the excellence of someone” this speaks to
praising God intentionally, thoughtfully with weighty words of his excellence,
glory and greatness.
• This is why we want to be thoughtful in our choice of worship music that we
honestly worship God in spirit and in truth. If someone wrote a song about you...
would you appreciate it if they were singing wrong information about you? ... no
of course not! So it is with the God of the universe and even more so should we
approach praising the Lord reverently. One way, the Psalms are provide help is
that they guide us in praising and extolling the Lord. Let me just give you a few
examples from the previous Psalms chapters 113-116:
• Psalm 113:4, Praising him for his greatness;
• Psalm 114:7-8, Praising him for his power over nations and creation;
• Psalm 115:1-4; Praising Him as the one greater than the nations idols;
• and one last example of praising God for his deliverance over his people in
Psalm 116:16-19.

• From these examples we get a picture of praise for who God is and the
excellence of what he has done on His peoples behalf. These Psalms can give us
words to praise the Lord in our own lives as we see God work. So, in verse 1, the
call is to join the global choir for praising the Lord thoughtfully singing and
speaking words of praise that reflect God’s character and work.
3. Bold call to praise - Before we move on to verse two, we need to highlight how
bold of a call this is. I think we can skim over this point too quickly, even I did
when I was looking for repeating words and I almost missed it and its the word
repeated the most and that is “Lord” (when Lord is in capitals its referring to
God’s personal name “Yahweh.”)
• Now, why would I say this is a bold call? The Psalmist is saying there is only one
God to be praised and that’s Yahweh. We may say amen! But for them to say that
in their time, in a time where people believed and lived for many gods, the
Psalmist is making a massive statement that not any god should be praised only
Yahweh the God of Israel, the Great “I Am”, the Almighty One, He raises above
the rest and He is the one the nations should praise. So then, what does this
mean for the idols and gods that the nations worship? That they turn from them
to the Living God and acknowledge Him as He should be acknowledged and
praised as he should be as Lord of lords and King of kings.
• For the nations then, the supernatural was central to their lives and to move
from many gods to one, changes everything for them and how they live. Isn’t that
true for us today, we give this call out today to a culture that would say one God
is to many, or keep that God to yourself, or you have your God and I have mine,
all roads lead to him. But that according to this passage and the rest of God’s
word — is not the case. Praising the Lord is praising Him alone. He is the God
who told His people “You shall have no other gods before me” Exodus 20:3.
• The Lord and the Lord alone is to be praised and we are made for Him and
praising Him is living in-line with how He made us to live and He desires this for
the nations. But why? Why is He one the nations should turn from their gods and
idols for? This brings us to point 2 “the cause for praising the Lord”...

2. The Cause for praising the Lord

“For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.”
• Lets start with the proper motivations for praising the Lord. What motivates you to
praise God? Some may say I praise the Lord because its a good thing to do and God
might bless me. Others may say I praise the Lord because I feel so guilty for what I
did last night that I want to make sure I am good with God. Another may say I
praise the Lord out of fear that he will punish me if I don’t, not reverent fear but a
terror of God’s punishment. Others may echo this Psalm saying I praise God
because of His great steadfast love toward us and His faithfulness endures forever.
Like it does not run out!
• The first few responses are motivated by praising God to motivate God to act in a
certain way... whether to give one what they want, help them feel better about
their sin, to escape punishment. Where the last one is motivated by a bigger and
biblical vision of who God is and then praise is a response to God because he is
worthy of it! I think of it kind of like being at a NHL hockey game.... Hear me out on this.. last
October Christina got me tickets to the WPG Jets for my 30th b-day. We got to drive
out and attend the game together it was a blast! They were playing the TOR Maple
Leafs that night so it was a full house. One thing I found interesting from the 10min
before the game to the end was that they constantly had a guy calling the crowd to
“get loud! Go jets go!” They were amping up the crowd. Why? to cheer on the
players to motivate them to do better and have success, to score the goals. But
here’s the thing they weren’t doing that well, they were losing, Maple Leafs were
the better team that night, now, what do you think that did for the crowd and
cheering for the jets? It got less and less even though the guys say “get loud for
your jets!” in fact, toward the end of the game the Maple Leafs fans were way
louder the jets fans in their own arena!
• How easy can it be for believers to praise God this way? Praising God to motivate
him, and how easy it to find believers praise-less and cynical when life is hard or
things aren’t going their way. No, we must have a firmer and bigger view of who
God is and from verse 2, I want to give three reasons for the nations to praise the
• First reason, God is faithful to His covenant - when we see the words steadfast
love and faithfulness - we should make a note that these are covenant terms,
they were the expectation of maintaining a covenant relationship and they
display how God has always stayed true to his side of the covenant with
Abraham that through his offspring all the nations will be a blessed (Gen. 12:2;
22:15-18). For this reason all people should praise the Lord because according
to His plan all peoples and all nations will be be blessed through his people
• Second, “Great is his steadfast love toward us..” “Great" in others uses of the
word was when one prevailed over their enemies, here “great” indicates how
strong, mighty, prevailing is the steadfast love of God toward His people.
Nothing will hold back God’s loyal love, not enemy nations, gods, not even His
own people who fail over and over again. God remains faithful to his covenant
promises because of His mighty loyal love and thus, all nations should praise
• Third, God’s Forever-enduring faithfulness - “Faithfulness of the Lord endures
forever.” “Enduring forever” is defined by the nature of the one the word is
connected to. The faithfulness (truth) of Yahweh endures forever because
Yahweh endures forever, in other words as long as the Lord endures so His
faithfulness to His people and to all nations and all peoples will endure. They
will be blessed, and they will know he is good, present and makes a way for
relationship between a Holy God and a unholy people. You see people can only
be faithful to their promises for so long but not forever. But God can and
because of his faithfulness endures all nations should praise Him.
• From these descriptions of God’s love and faithfulness toward his people,
they display God’s perfect consistency between who he is and what he does.
Perfect integrity. As Exodus 34 records God describing Himself, in verse 6
“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God
merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and
• Therefore, his love and faithfulness should move us to praise Him. As he has
been faithful to His promises to the generation before yours, he will be
faithful to your generation and he will be faithful to the next. (Pause...)
Now, this is beautiful insight from this Psalm, but there a problem of a lack of
praise: The call has been made for the gentiles to praise the Lord. But they
weren’t... the desire and reality did not match, listen to how Psalm 14:1-4 speaks of
the gentiles (those who are not Jews). "The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They
are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The Lord looks down
from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after
God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who
does good, not even one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people
as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord?”
We see from this passage gentiles or the “children of man” are the fool saying
there is no God, they are not accountable to him so they live as they please. They
mock not praise Him. They have taken the good desire to know and worship God and
don’t call on Him but look else where so they are “corrupt” the text says. As well they
attack the Israel and make life difficult for them.
Not only that but it is likely that “all” in verse 3 the Apostle Paul applies that to
both jews and gentiles in Romans 3:9. Why? Because not only was the nations corrupt
running after false gods, but Israel and Judah instead being a light to the world, ran
after the nation’s gods. So how are the nations to praise God? How will this come
about? When their lack of the knowledge of God, pride, unbelief and idolatry blinds
them. Isn’t that true for all people today for those who don’t follow Jesus and also for
those do follow Jesus, pride, unbelief and idolatry take our eyes off Jesus and we don’t
give him the praise due his name. For the unbelievers its a disposition and for
believers they are forgetting who are in relationship with (2 Peter 1:8-9). Back to our
problem, How will the nations come to praise the Lord? God must act and He did.
Transition point: Remember how I said Psalm 117 was an Egyptian Hallel Psalm and
that in the 1st century it was likely read or sung at the passover meal. So, ponder this...
Jesus on the night he was betrayed, he was having the passover meal remembering
God’s great redemptive act of delivering His people. While he goes through the
rhythms of the Passover meal with his disciples they likely would’ve sang or read this
psalm before he would eventually be betrayed and go the cross (Matt. 26:30). Now
think of how significant it is that Jesus is reading and singing this song (Praise the Lord,
all nations! Extol him, all peoples!). Knowing He would die the death we deserved and
be raised to life on our behalf, Jesus is the means of salvation for all who repents and
believes the good news of Jesus, whether jew or gentile, so that all nations could
praise the Lord.

3. Psalm 117, points us to the gospel going forward

• Jesus then is the solution for our sin and lack of praise of God among the nations.
Through the coming of Jesus, we can now see Psalm 117 as a prophecy of the gospel
going out into all the world.
• In Romans 15, the Apostle Paul quotes Psalm 117:1 in pointing out Christ’s global
mission. Read Romans 15:8-13, in verse 8 Paul said Christ came “in order to confirm
the promises given to the patriarchs,” this displays God’s faithfulness in Christ which
points back to God’s promise to Abrahams decedents that He would bless the
nations. Not only that, but Christ came “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God
for his mercy.” The very desire of Psalm 117 he came that jews and gentiles in one
voice like a great choir would welcome one another and praise God together for His
great mercy extended to them Christ Jesus, which shows the worship of God is his
ultimate aim. If you ever wonder about what God is up to in the World, this is it!
Responding to Psalm 117 - How can we respond? Two takeaways and one
practical step.
• Develop an eye for ways to praise Jesus starting with God’s Word and Prayer -
Jordan said last time but I’ll say it again praising the Lord requires us to take our
eyes off ourselves and gets our eyes on God, praising Him for what he has done
through Christ. Reading God’s word and prayer (talking with God) helps us to know
what to look for, to help us be people of praise. Praising God in Christ is not
something we do, but its who we are. The New Testament, is filled with calls for
thankfulness and praise, the Apostle Paul says it this way in 1 Thess. 5:16-18 “Rejoice
always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this the will of
God in Christ for you.” Christians are a praising people. Developing eyes to praise
comes when we are actually looking for ways to praise Him, when your looking
there won’t be a shortage of ways to thank the Lord for his faithfulness/love.
• Psalm 117 gives us a God-centred vision for missions - Not only can Psalm 117
lead you to praise the Lord yourself, but it should move us to see others praising
the Lord. This has been a quote that has been shared before, but it is fitting to share
again from pastor and writer John Piper as we said, “Missions is not the ultimate goal
of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate,
not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.” So, if worship isn’t happening we
have a role in missions and as a believer in Jesus Christ missions is not only
something we do, its apart of who we are. We are a praising people on mission for
God’s glory and for the good of others that they find life in Jesus. Therefore, it is not “if”
we are engaged in some kind of missions work, but “what” kind of missions work
has God placed you in and/or is leading you towards. Christian, do you see yourself
this way? Let Psalm 117 move us to live consistently with who we are and look to God
who is faithful to draw the nations to Himself in Christ. What does it look like for you
to live on mission this week? Who can you serve and surprise this week in Jesus
To close, I am going to get really practical, I want to ask, what if you let Psalm
117 guide you in your prayer this week? What if you take a 3x5 card, write out
Psalm 117 and pray for both of these takeaways of having eyes for praising Jesus and
gaining a God-centred vision for missions (have an example card). There is nothing
special or magical about the card its just to help us focus as we pray. It is meant to
help us consistently ask God to renew our hearts for praising His name and seeing the
praise of His name among the nations, that great global choir.
Let’s pray for that now.