In response to recent requests from subscribers, the Nugget will be featuring a devotional based on the book of Psalms once a month. We pray you will be blessed by this focus on the one book of the Bible that Jesus quoted the most.

Last month we learned that in Judaism, the Psalms, or the "five book of David", are seen to be an image of the five books of the law and are considered to be a "second Pentateuch", an echo of the first. Did you know that the book of Psalms contains both the longest (Ps. 119 with 176 verses) and the shortest (Ps. 117 with 2 verses) chapters in the Bible? Another interesting note is that in the King James Version, this shortest chapter in the Bible also stands as its exact middle chapter, with 594 chapters before it, and 594 chapters after it!

And today we will take a closer look at this exact middle chapter of the King James Bible--as well as the Bible's shortest chapter--Psalm 117...

"Praise the Lord, all you nations.
   Praise him, all you people of the earth.
For his unfailing love for us is powerful;
   the Lord's faithfulness endures forever.
Praise the Lord!"
(Ps. 117:1-2 NLT)

On first glance, this particular Psalm doesn't look too deep. It is short, it doesn't contain many examples, and it isn't even very precise. I would argue, however, that this shortest chapter, found in the exact middle of the ever-popular King James English Bible, provides us with one of the most powerful recipes for how to praise God in our lowest moments...

We are told to praise God in the midst of our circumstances. It is even suggested that we praise Him for specific things, small things, big things, personal things, etc. Isn't it the case, however, that in the midst of whatever crisis we are in, we have absolutely no ability to recall God's past miracles in our lives? I don't know about you, but when I'm in the middle of particularly bad circumstances, I sometimes don't even remember how to pray! All I can think to say is, "God! Help me, God! Oh God, oh God, help me!"

It is exactly in the midst of these moments, the moments so troubling that the only prayer on our lips is, "Oh God!" that we need Psalm 117 the most. The beauty and simplicity of this psalm makes it a prayer that we can pray, even in the midst of the worst crisis! Let's take a look:

The psalm begins by telling who is called to praise the Lord. Notice that it doesn't mention people who are going through good times. Notice that there is absolutely no qualifier whatsoever to indicate "which" people are to praise the Lord. The psalm simply tells us:

"Praise the Lord, all you nations.
   Praise him,
all you people of the earth." (Vs. 1 NLT)

There it is in a nutshell: If you are a member of the "people of the Earth", you are called to "Praise the Lord", no matter what you are going through! In the midst of crisis, there is no need for you to wonder if this psalm specifically fits your situation or not. As long as you are a member of the "people of the Earth", this psalm fits your situation!

But now the hard part: What do we praise Him for? Like I said above, in the midst of crisis, we often can't even remember where we are going or whether or not we brushed our teeth, let alone recalling the miracles of the Lord!

No problem. Psalm 117 doesn't encourage us to spend time wracking through memories for specific examples of God's love and power in our lives. It doesn't require that we be Bible scholars, that we be familiar with God's power as portrayed in His Word. It doesn't even require that we tear our tormented minds away from your dire circumstances to focus on how God has been real to someone we know. In its simplicity, the psalm simply tells us exactly what we can always pray, no matter what we are going through. It tells us the real reason for praise:

"For his unfailing love for us is powerful;
   the Lord's
faithfulness endures forever.
Praise the Lord!"
(Vs. 2 NLT)

In the midst of whatever it is you are going through, remember these truths from the shortest chapter in the Bible that stands as the exact centre chapter, Psalm 117: You are called to praise God no matter what, and the reason is that His love is unfailing and power, and His faithfulness will never end!

I encourage you now, in the midst of whatever it is that is blinding you to memories of past miracles, to contemplate these powerful truths: God's love is unfailing and powerful, and God's faithfulness will never end! As you meditate upon these Truths from Psalm 117, you will begin to see your circumstances from God's perspective. You will come to understand that God's unfailing, all powerful love will come through! You will begin to comprehend that God's unending faithfulness will bring you through these tough times as well!

Whatever your circumstances: Praise the Lord, for His love is powerful and unfailing and His faithfulness is everlasting!

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.


(To access the entire "Lessons From the Psalms" mini-series, please click here.)