There is one more word we need to look at before I bring this study of the shortest psalm to a close, and that is the word rendered “faithfulness” in verse 2. Actually it is the word "amen,” and it can equally well be translated "truth,” “steadfastness” or “reliability.” In the New Testament, in the words of Jesus it is often rendered, “Truly, truly.” 

There is more to this psalm than what I have explained so far this week. I have taken the “great” in verse 2 in our normal English sense, as something that is large, remarkable, distinguished or superior. But while this is true, many of the commentators also note that in Hebrew the word has the sense of someone or something having “prevailed” over something else because of its superior qualities.

In yesterday's study we noted that the gospel was to be extended to the Gentiles. The second thing we need to notice about Psalm 117 is that the reason the Gentiles (along with Jews) are called upon to praise God is God's love, for it is a love that "endures forever” (v. 2). 

Here is the place to notice how Paul cites Psalm 117:1 near the end of a significant section of Romans (Rom. 14:1–15:13). This long section deals with how Christians who consider themselves “strong” should treat their “weaker” brothers and sisters, and how the “weak” should regard the “strong.” As usual, Paul ends the section by citing proofs from the Old Testament, in this case Psalm 18:49 (in v. 9), Deuteronomy 32:43 (in v. 10), Psalm 117:1 (in v. 11) and Isaiah 11:10 (in v. 12). The surprising thing is that the texts he cites do not deal with the relationship between weaker and stronger people specifically but rather are prophecies that the gospel would one day be extended to the Gentiles.

The first striking feature of this psalm is that it calls upon all nations and all peoples to praise God. “Nations” is the Hebrew word goyim, often translated “gentiles,” though it does mean nations strictly speaking. It is sometimes used even for Israel itself. “Peoples” is a rare plural form of the word am, which has to do with the wide diversity found in national and ethnic groupings. Together the words mean all peoples everywhere, precisely the sense present in Revelation 7:9, where John speaks of “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”