O praise the Lord, all ye nations ; or, "all ye Gentiles," as in Romans 15:11 . The goim are especially the heathen nations of the earth (comp. Psalms 2:1 , Psalms 2:8 ; Psalms 9:5 , Psalms 9:15 , Psalms 9:19 , Psalms 9:20 , etc.). Praise him ; rather, laud him (Revised Version). The verbs in the two clauses are different. All ye people; rather, all ye peoples .
The kingdom of God.
The psalmist, consciously or unconsciously, anticipates the glories of the kingdom of God, as that is now being established under the reign of Christ. We have—
I. ITS STRONG FOUNDATION . It is founded on mercy and truth. Not on irresistible power, not on unchangeable law, but on Divine mercy and truth.
1. God's mercy to mankind, secured by the redeeming work, and promised by the unchanging word, of Jesus Christ, is one stone of that foundation.
2. The other is the whole body of truth spoken by him or by his apostles under his inspiration. Those who go everywhere preaching "the gospel of the kingdom" are charged to make known God's abounding grace to all men, from the best to the worst, from those "near" to those that are "afar off." They are also charged to declare the will of God in the righteousness, the truthfulness, the purity, the charity, the peacefulness, of those who give themselves to his service. These two great principles may never be disjoined. With the message of mercy carried to the worst of the children of men must be closely and inextricably associated all that utterance of God's mind and purpose which requires holiness, wisdom, love.
II. ITS BOUNDLESS RANGE . "Praise the Lord, all ye nations," etc. ( Psalms 117:1 ). It is difficult to understand how a Jew, under the Law, could expect all the heathen to be worshippers of God. The psalmist's must have been a pious wish rather than a serious expectation. Not such is the Christian's hope; he looks forward to the time when God will be honored under every sky, and his praises sung in every language. He sees islands, communities, nations, that were once barbarous and idolatrous now con-vetted to the truth; he sees the hoary systems of antiquity honey-combed with doubt and distrust; he sees groups and companies of men and women, as well as individuals, inquiring at the feet of Jesus Christ. He sees the Churches of Christ "putting on their beautiful garments" of faith and zeal, and sending out their messengers to the ends of the earth. He sees the truth and mercy of God printed in every known language on the globe; he sees the prophecies of the Old Testament and the New in the very act of fulfillment; he has reason to say, with a heart full of hope and joy, "Praise the Lord, all ye nations."
III. ITS PERPETUITY . "To all generations;" or, "forever." At least seventy generations have come and gone since this psalm was written, and eighteen centuries have passed since Jesus Christ brought " grace and truth" to the world in his own Person. And this Divine wisdom shows no other signs of age than those of maturity and advancement. There is no fear as to its future; for it comes from God, and it meets the deep needs of man. It brings pardon for his sin, peace to his burdened heart, comfort in his sorrow, sanctity to his joy, steadfastness for the time of temptation, nobility to his life, hope in the solemn hour of death. With whatever humanity can dispense, it cannot do without the mercy and the truth of God as these are revealed and secured by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is the shortest psalm, but it is long enough to show—
I. THAT THERE IS ONE SUPREME OBJECT OF WORSHIP FOR ALL MEN . It is Jehovah, the Lord. He and he alone. Three times in this short psalm is this affirmed.
1. The atheism by whatever name it is called—of the day denies this , saying, either God does not exist, or, if he does, we cannot know it.
2. False ideas of the Trinity practically deny this . Many Christians are tri-theists, though unconsciously. But such error is not the less harmful on that account.
3. The doctrine of God as given in the whole Bible never teaches other than the unity of God . "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." The human race is one in its moral condition—sin; in its need—a Savior; in its consciousness of both these facts. One God, one Savior, should be worshipped by all.
II. THAT THERE IS ONE DUTY INCUMBENT ON ALL — THE PRAISE OF THE LORD . It is not in many things that all can unite; but they can, and one day will, in this. And we should seek to begin this now. It is due to God; he deserves as well as desires and demands it. It is full of blessing to ourselves. Prayer is good, but praise is better still. And it blesses others. The spirit of praise is winsome, for "praise is comely." In the walls of the city of God its gates are praise ( Isaiah 60:18 ). We go in that way, and draw others to go in with us.
III. THAT THERE IS ONE ARGUMENT AND MOTIVE WHICH WILL CONVINCE ALL — WHAT OUR GOD IS . He has not merely kindness, but merciful kindness. And it is great; no insignificant and occasional thing. And it is "toward us;" not a mere abstraction, but a positive reality. And he is ever faithful and true; his righteousness endureth forever. Not mercy without truth, nor truth without mercy. Alone, neither would have saved us. But together they constitute the salvation of God. They who know will praise the Lord.—S.C.
God in national life.
"Laud him, all ye people" (Revised Version). This psalm was called by the Puritans the "Dunbar Psalm," because Cromwell, the lord-general, when at the foot of Doon Hill, after the battle of Dunbar, made a halt, and sang this psalm, "till the horse could gather for the chase." It is agreed that it is a kind of doxology, and was used either at the beginning or at the close of a liturgical service; somewhat as we use, " Glory be to the Father," etc. It was the one most distinctive characteristic of the Jews that they were keen to recognize the presence and working of God in their national life. The tendency of nations is to distinguish between politics and religion. The tendency of sentimental religion is to keep aloof from politics. The true idea is exhibited in the Jewish national life at its best. The freest scope for all individual statesmanship and patriotism, combined with the ever-cherished conviction that God was in all, using all, inspiring all, and overruling all. Jewish politics and religion were one thing. Moses' revelation from God was as truly national as religious. So far as the Jews had a universal mission, a witness to make to "all peoples," it was of the one and only God in their national life, who ought to be recognized as the God of every national life. We can trace God in the history that is past ; we may find him in the history that is now in the making . To that recognition of God in the present this psalm calls men. "The God of the whole earth shall he be called." Monotheism involves
I. Men need AN INFALLIBLE DIRECTOR OF CONDUCT . This one God is the Ruler of all guiding all "with his eye."
II. Men need A VINDICATOR OF RIGHTEOUSNESS in whom they may have absolute confidence. This one God is the Judge of all, the holy Avenger of all the wronged.
III. Men need A RESCUER AND DELIVERER to whom in every sense of sin and peril they may flee. This one God is the Savior of all. These are universal human peculiarities found in every nation. So every nation wants the one God.—R.T.