The Book of Psalms is a collection of historic worship songs from ancient Israel’s faith experiences. Recorded for us are the lyrics; the musical accompaniments have been lost in the shadows of the past. We might think of the Psalms as if they were an old hymnal found nestled away in a well-worn pew of a longstanding landmark country church.
The Bible, as we have it today, contains 1,189 chapters in the Old (Hebrew) and New Testaments. Numbers outside of context are mere markers, placeholders awaiting assignment. In context, however, numbers add fascinating possibilities to that which language expresses. For example, at the center of these 1,189 chapters of the Bible lives and sings the shortest of all the remembered hymns of ancient Israel: the humble, two-versed Psalm 117.
This psalm is part of “The Hallel” (praise) which consists of Psalm 113-118.
In spite of its small size, Psalm 117 carries within its tiny packaging the very core of what it means to encounter, to know, and to relate to the Living God. All of that Biblical material which precedes, all of that which follows this tiny–but–mighty psalm, could be seen as an expansion of the themes found within just two verses!
Taken from a slightly different point of view, the central declarations of God’s existence and humanity’s reason to give God fullest recognition are announced in Psalm 117. From there the declarations radiate back into history and forward into our very own present and future. Often associated with Psalms 113–118, together known as the Hallel (“Praise”), Psalm 117 might be looked upon as the repeated chorus to the entire 6-psalm collection, driving home the Hallel’s primary message: the Lord God is worthy to be praised.