Thursday, October 6, 2022

Call to the Gentiles (Psalm 117)

"Praise the LORD all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us" (Ps. 117:1–2a).

In Romans 15:11 Paul quotes Psalm 117 as evidence for God’s call to the Gentile nations. Paul writes that the Israelites are not the only ones who would bear the honor of praising God, but this honor would come to the Gentiles as well “so that the Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy.” How can foreigners who remain ignorant of His truth be qualified to praise God? Paul answers by showing that the prophecies of old looked forward to a time when the elect from all nations would be brought into the fold of God and the light of knowledge would illumine their hearts.

“It would serve no purpose for the prophet to address the heathen nations, unless they were to be gathered together in the unity of the faith with the children of Abraham,” Calvin wrote. “I grant that the Holy Spirit elsewhere calls upon the mountains, rivers, trees, rain, winds, and thunder, to resound the praises of God.… It is in a different manner that He is praised by His rational creatures. The reason assigned is, that God’s mercy and truth furnish materials for celebrating His praises. Besides, the prophet does not mean that God shall be praised everywhere by the Gentiles, because the knowledge of His character is confined to a small portion of the land of Judea, but because it was to be spread over the whole world.… The truth of God, in this passage, is properly introduced as an attestation of His grace. For He can be true even when He menaces the whole world with perdition and ruin. The prophet, however, has placed His mercy first in order, that His faithfulness and truth … might encourage the hearts of the godly … as men will never cordially praise God until they are drawn by a foretaste of His goodness, the prophet very justly selects God’s mercy and truth, which alone open the mouths of those who are mute to engage in this exercise.”

This call of the Gentiles came as a surprise to many of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. But as He stressed to Nicodemus, “God so loved the whole world.” This does not mean that God would save everyone in the world, but that His love extended beyond the borders of Israel to gather in His sheep and bring them to His eternal pasture.

Read Acts 11:1; 13:48; 15:7; 18:6; 28:28. How do these verses evidence God’s love to the whole world? What part do you play in bringing the Good News of Christ to all peoples? Spend time every day for the rest of this week praying for the lost, that they may praise God for His mercy.