Text Size: Zoom In

The Shortest Song

So if Psalm 119 is 176 verses long, why two chapters earlier would there be the shortest song  composed of only 2 verses (Psa 117:1-2)? Reminds me of the shortest sentence in the Bible with only 2 words (John 11:35)?

In other posts we’ve already talked about the fact that, if the whole Bible is basically the story of the God who came to our rescue in Jesus, then  every subplot and detail of Scripture supports that Storyline.

But what about the details like the longest and shortest Psalms of the Bible which could sound simply like “Bible trivia” or “strange facts about the Book of books”? Could there be any relationship to Psalm 119 which is about to come  when the songwriter simply says in 117:

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord (Psa 117).

Vote on whether you think this post is something you'll be thinking about:
Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+19 rating, 19 votes)

42 Responses to “The Shortest Song”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Technically Psalm 117 sounds like an open invitation for all nations of people to praise God; this idea is supported by Romans 15: 11. And we find God speaking in Deuteronomy 32: 43 calling for all nations to rejoice.

    Looking further into this connected thread I find in Psalms 18: 43, 44, 45, 46, 49 the message that unbelievers will come under the kingship of Christ and praise God.

    And digging deeper I see who it is that is speaking, He is found in Isaiah 11:1 and shown in Isaiah 11:2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12.

    Christ speaks to us, all nations from His Word. His invitation of salvation is for all nations and peoples.


  2. MultiDougster says:

    I’m a worship pastor, so, my mind meanders musically. I see Psalms 117 kind of like a call to worship; as if the psalmists is shouting to a great crowd, “Hallelujah! Get in here and give God glory and bring all of your buddies with you.” I can connect it to Psalm 119, although I’m not completely sure that I should, by saying if Psalm 117 is the call to worship then Psalm 119 is the act of worship. I see the psalmist persistently juxtapose praise and affirmation with repentance and supplication like waves on a shoreline. He confidently declares the benefits of getting to know God better, and then reminds the worshipper that it is God’s unrelenting love that constrains him to seek Him. As we seek Him, God’s immutable truth begins to work itself into our hearts causing us to praise Him all the more.

  3. SFDBWV says:

    Good morning Multidougster, you are right praise and music go together just as the Psalms are songs.

    My heart hears the words as poetry, and as much as I would love to sing, I am why God said “make a joyful *noise* unto the Lord.

    I have always found it is during praise that God speaks and miracles happen, you are involved in a wonderful gift, I am glad for you; sing on and bask in His presence.

    Hope to hear more of you on BTA.


  4. poohpity says:

    David seemed to know after many troubles in his life, that if anything else he knew the love of the Lord and that alone is worthy of Praise.

    It seems chronologically that these Psalms were written near the end of Davids life, after years of running from Saul, the death of a son due to wrong actions, the problems even within his own family when his sons deceived him and wanted the throne and took David’s concubines for their selves that the meditation of David’s heart was seeking after his God. David seemed to understand that following God’s way was a guide for his path but knew what happened when he strayed yet he knew God was to be praised and every nation would do it.

    Trusting and worshiping God for being God not what he can do for us seemed to be the source of the shortest verse in the bible, “Jesus wept” although it is not stated and many can guess about this verse. Did He weep because of a lack of trust and does God weep because of a lack of trust in Him alone? I do not know but my hunch is, yes. Bottom line to me is that God loves us and we can go from right to left or left to right but in it do I really trust the heart of my God and praise Him just for being GOD like David did in this shortest chapter in the bible.

  5. poohpity says:

    I wonder if David knew that one day his words would be a part of being a light to our paths by writing down his life, poetry and all the ways that he experienced God?

  6. bubbles says:

    pooh, If he did not know then, I wonder if David knows now. All the people who have gone to Heaven. . . I’d love to sit down with David and talk about his writings, and tell him how much they have helped and conforted and encouraged and convicted and helped praise God. Won’t that be wonderful? Of course, seeing Jesus will be the best of all. But, to SEE the man who penned the Psalms, how wonderful that will be.
    David may not have understood everything happening to him at the time, but I’m sure he does now and is praising God for using him in such a mighty way. Think of how many millions of people who have been comforted and drawn closer to God because of David.

  7. SFDBWV says:

    I am guessing that when Mart put out the BTA email topic he intended to close the commentary as “Load Test” was a subject we had several weeks ago.

    Sadly it appears that one subject doesn’t produce enough participation and that two at the same time would only distract from each.

    I don’t know what the problem is that so many people have dropped away from this blog, but it is very anemic and is showing the signs of starving out.

    I understand the difficulty Mart must have in coming up every three or four days with a new subject for discussion and he has my sympathy as well as my efforts to participate in what ever subject is in place, as time allows for me to do so.

    It is a beautiful (almost) summer day here in the mountains, I feel for those who live down in the low lands as it is going to be hot today. However where ever you are I hope your day is blessed.


  8. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… we could say that one Psalm being so short, gets directly to the matter, “Praise the Lord for Who He Is!”
    The longer version serves a more structured format with its length observing ALL the characters of the Hebrew Alphabet, with a message of the same impact, the Character of God, held in a orderly form, showing us how to live in Obedience to the Word. One is founded on structure, the other in it’s simplicity, but both serve the same God. Kind of feels like us, some having read ALL the actual words, and some just getting the same message, but with less words. For that I say,”Praise God!” Gary

  9. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… as one who lives only inches above Sea Level, thanks for your concern. My brother mentioned this morning that one place in Flroda recieved 13 inches of rain yesterday! Then he asked me where would we be if that much rain hit our area. I told him we would by high and dry because we live on the high part of our street, but we couldn’t go anywhere because everything else around us would be flooded.
    High ground is where you find it, and with Christ in your Boat, even the worst of storms can suddenly become calm.
    The storms of life hit us all, “May God be in our boat when they do, and provide the calm we will all need when surrounded by the Tide of Evil that the world can bring upon us.” Gary

  10. poohpity says:

    Sometimes it is not the quantity of writers but the quality of what is being written.

  11. oneg2dblu says:

    Yes, and that goes for what we read as well, as the quantity of words alone, is not always the best way to measure one either.

  12. dependent says:

    It would be interesting to know more about how all the writings in the “book” of Psalms were compiled. Especially since oral tradition played such a huge role in those days. I wonder if the two songs were connected in any similar ‘sequence’ for those (many?) years before a numerical ‘order’ was established?

    Not to say the Holy Spirit wasn’t intimately involved with the compilation process…

    Can anyone here shed light on the historical process, from David’s pen (and other psalmist?) to the assembled ‘book’?

  13. poohpity says:

    You can see a little of why they were written and what was happening in David’s life by reading in Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles by looking at the Chronological reading chart.

  14. SFDBWV says:

    Gary, In November of 1985 we had 14 inches of rain hit our area, it killed 24 people in this county alone as it was a state wide disaster, That kind of rain in the mountains is catastrophic.

    I have been watching the weather channel and seeing the rain amounts there in Florida, especially in the pan handle areas; it is worrisome to me for the safety of all concerned.

    Be safe my friend.

    Pooh, how is the new hip working out?


  15. poohpity says:

    The new hip is wonderful but the physical therapist pushed to hard on my knee during a resistance test and caused it to snap. Then the doc gave me a cortisone shot in my knee so I could exercise my hip and I am allergic to cortisone so I am having to contend with that for the last 2 weeks, not pleasant, feel like a mac truck smashed me but the hip is wonderful. Thank you for asking. How is your heart doing?

  16. poohpity says:

    Oh dependent you can find a chronological reading chart at biblegateway dot com

  17. poohpity says:

    Or google it

  18. poohpity says:

    It shows the times each of the psalms were written and the prophets as they served under each of the kings. Hope that helps with some of the answers the others I do not know.

  19. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… glad to hear your hip is working so well. If you were given any antibiotics to protect you from any infection, which is the norm today, some of those can cause a weakening of the tendons as well. Too bad they didn’t know about your allergic response to cortisone or some thing else might have been better for you.
    I pray that any adverse reaction will soon subside and your recovery will get back on track. I’m currently nursing a knee back to health myself. Here’s my current protocol, apply prayer first , then elevate and ice, take applicable supplements for joint health, and use some self massage. The best thing for the knees, are well trained, strong, supporting muscles all around.
    When you have been laid up for a period of time then the muscles atrophy and the joint is more susceptible to being injured. But, any exercise that it can tolerate should be beneficial to bringing healing nutrients into that area which is the whole reason for the therapy, which increases range of motion and strengthens those supporting muscles. We all need time to heal, and our knowing the healer is a great help! Gary

  20. dependent says:

    Thanks Poohpity (may I call you Pooh?)

  21. poohpity says:

    You can call me Deborah or Deb. :-)

  22. poohpity says:

    Gary, unless that quantity is the entirety of the bible. (from your 11:25am post):-)

  23. SFDBWV says:

    Pooh I am sorry you are having difficulties with the medical professionals, I hope your new hip wasn’t damaged by the over zealous therapist.

    Allergic to medications should be a red flag on your medical chart, sounds like you may need an advocate each time you go to the doctor.

    A Mac truck hit me once right on my side of my pickup, he tore the entire rear end out from under it, a few more feet and it would have been head on. I brushed the glass off my shirt and walked away.

    It would seem that God wasn’t done with me at that time, nor was he done with me when I had my little heart attack.

    I am pretty much back to being me and all I have ever been able to do, however adjusting to medication is another matter.


  24. SFDBWV says:

    As to the shortest Psalm again; I am reminded of the various times I come before God in prayer.

    Sometimes I can find the most eloquent of words to express my self other times the words almost choke in my throat and I am *shortened* to say very little and then at other times only groaning which cannot be uttered (Romans 8: 26, 27, 28), perhaps the shortest prayer of all.

    Many people use the Psalms as prayer, I would suppose sometimes all one may be able to say is “Praise God” like the 117th Psalm and leave the day and the matter to the will of God.


  25. poohpity says:

    I believe we are the best advocates for ourselves when it comes to doctors and allergies and that is what I teach others when it comes to doctors. I already have a very long list just need to add another to it. But you are correct that we have the best advocate before the Father in the person of the Holy Spirit.

    Whether it is the shortest verse or chapter, we see the unfailing love and faithfulness that God has for us even when we fall short in those areas ourselves. That alone is all we need to praise God for!!! Amen?

  26. oneg2dblu says:

    I would say, that putting into practice what we tend to teach others, would be the best medicine for us all!
    Praise God we get to help others with advice for those things we have already been through, if we can only share them and if they are well recieved, then they are a real help. But sometimes our listening to even that still small voice that convicts us, goes unmerited as our own voice then overpowers it. Have A blessed day as you hear others advice given for you, and just recieve it, not having to overpower it and make it useless for you. God opens all kinds of doors, and recieving well intentioned advice even from a donkey, may just be one of them. Funny thing, my pastor taught us just yesterday, that God would open such a door for us to help another, we just need to respond to it when He does. Be Blessed!

  27. poohpity says:

    I have learned over the years the only good advice is that which is asked for otherwise it is not received very well nor is it any of our business.

  28. poohpity says:

    I really do not know if Psalms 119 was written before 117 but from reading 119 it is obvious that David pursued God (Psalms 42:1) and I wonder if during that pursuit he penned 117. I think the more and more we pursue God we come to realize the fullness of His faithfulness.

  29. oneg2dblu says:

    Sorry I’ve wasted my words, perhaps I should have held my tongue and not your collective hand. I’ve learned well here today. Thanks for the lesson on what Christian character should look like, but never quite does. I just wonder why?
    It’s been very enligthening here, and I have enjoyed almost all of it. Moving on now and wish you all well. Be Blessed, Gary

  30. dust says:

    Yes Deb halleluja AMEN

  31. poohpity says:

    Gary, I am sorry if I misunderstood where you were going with your conversation but I have not read about anyone talking about Christian character. I may have missed something. If we look to others to display something that only Christ could do and at least, we may make a feeble attempt at trying to replicate then we will not try and be more than we are able. Nor will we demand others to such high standards that they may not reach either then we will not be disappointed. Although I try and I am sure others do as well to live what Christ taught we all fall short but I will not ask others to higher standards than what I am able to live myself and I mess up all the time. So join me and others, looking to Christ and not trying to be Him but honoring Him above all else.

    Be a blessing, Deb

  32. davids says:

    Steve, there are many of us that come and read the blog and comments. On this particular subject, however, I don’t feel that I have the background or insight to contribute more than a superficial comment.

    Blessings to all.

  33. bubbles says:

    Yes, like davids, I visit here each day, sometimes more than once and keep up with the thoughts posted. I just do not have much to say. But I really enjoy what all of you are sharing.

  34. foreverblessed says:

    To go back to the text of the bible
    Psalm 117:1
    Ther is a lot to say about that, and I have a lot of questions
    One of them is:
    The word praise is not acually meaning praise but something like sooth.
    This word makes me wonder, what is meant by it?
    I read some commentaries, like Barnes’ notes on the bible:

    “Praise him, all ye people – People of all lands. The word here rendered “praise” – שׁבח shâbach – means properly to soothe, to still, to restrain – as, for example, billows Psalm 89:9; and then, to praise, as if to soothe with praises – mulcere laudibus, Pacuv. The idea of soothing or mitigating, however, is not necessarily in the word, but it may be understood in the general sense of praise. We may in fact often soothe or appease people – angry, jealous, suspicious people – by skillful flattery or praise – for there are few, even when under the influence of anger or hatred, who may not thus be approached, or who do not value praise and commendation more than they do the indulgence of passion; but we cannot hope thus to appease the anger of God. We approach him to utter our deep sense of his goodness, and our veneration for his character; we do not expect to turn him from anger to love – to make him forget his justice or our sins – by soothing flattery. ”
    does that make sense to anyone?

  35. poohpity says:

    In “The Bible Knowledge Commentary” by Walvoord & Zuck it stated this about Psalm 119 “The psalmist was persecuted by men of rank and authority, who ridiculed his beliefs, seeking to put him to shame and make him give up his faith. But he strengthened himself by meditating on the Word, which to him was his comfort, his prized possession, his rule of life, and his resource for strength–all of which drove him to desire even more.” and whether David wrote this before 117 or not the same sentiment seems to be told in the commentary on 117.

    A. Call to praise (117:1) the psalmist called on the nations to praise the Lord, and on peoples everywhere to laud Him.

    B. Cause for praise (117:2) the attributes of the Lord are the cause for praise. His love(hesed) is His covenant loyalty for His people, which is great.
    This word hesed is often accompanied by the word ’emet, “truth” or faithfulness (cf. 108:4; 115:1; 138:2). Because the Lord’s word is reliable, He is faithful. This term strengthens the concept of His covenant loyalty.

    So it would seem that both psalms speak of the reliability of the Lord’s Word and clinging to it brought such comfort to David and I have found that same comfort in knowing it too. God having our trust and knowing how faithful He is to us is a great reason to praise Him, to sing Hallelujah!!

  36. cherielyn says:

    Sometimes “dropping away from the blog” has nothing to do with disinterest, but rather with inability to do so. Sometime (last summer, I think – it’s been sooooo long!) I tried to go to the BTA site and it wouldn’t open. I tried every day for 2-3 weeks and got the same response. Then my internet provider stopped providing service to WI and switching to a new ISP created added complications.

    At any rate, after not being able to connect to BTA for such a long time, I finally gave up. This morning I decided to check and was surprised to be able to connect to the site, so I went back and read the topics and comments from the previous 2 blogs.

    When I had my computer worked on a couple weeks ago, I was told that my security programs were blocking some sites (something or other on the site deemed a security risk?), so perhaps that was the case with not being able to connect to BTA. So sorry for my long absence! I have really missed all of you.

    Other things in my life have also prevented me from occasionally checking until now.

  37. foreverblessed says:

    Cherielyn, welcome back, and may God bless you, and your son, may he be a blessing to those who want to receive it.

  38. davids says:

    cherielyn, you have been in my prayers all this time.

  39. davids says:

    foreverblessed, your entry above is interesting. Unfortunately, it is written in the English of 150 years ago, so it is obscure even to modern native English speakers.

    He is trying to translate the phrase, “Praise him, all ye people – People of all lands” into the language of that day, and he comes up with the verb “to soothe”. This word has almost disappeared from modern English too. It means to calm or pacify.

    Then he points out that soothe is not quite the right translation of the word; we might try to calm angry, jealous, or suspicious people with praise or soothing words, but of course that is not going to work with God.

    The expression in the verse seems to mean that the people and lands need to praise God in a respectful way, acknowledging his righteousness, not in the empty way that was common in the oriental worship of the day, merely appealing to a presumed vanity of God.

    I don’t know if I have helped at all, especially since the English words are a bit difficult. I couldn’t possibly explain this with my limited Dutch.

  40. foreverblessed says:

    Thank you for helping me out, this makes more sense to me, that makes it possible for me to go on thinking about the meaning of this verse.
    The word sooth got my attention because a few months ago when studying Psalm 2, I found something about the word Lord, I think I posted it here, it was about God soothing us: sooth being an old word, and so is this word laef, or laven an old dutch word, but still going around here:
    I post it again:
    “Psalm 2 Verse 4.
    “The Lord,” in Hebrew, Adonai, mystically signifieth my stays, or my sustainers—my pillars.
    Our English word “Lord” hath much the same force, being contracted of the old Saxon word “Llaford,” or “Hlafford,” which cometh from “Laef,” to sustain, refresh, cherish. Henry Ainsworth.
    From Treasury of David by CH Spurgeon Psalm 2 Explanatory notes on verse 4

    The word “laef” is still a dutch word today, although with a modern spelling “laaf” from to “laven”
    A child drinking milk with his mother is being “laefed”.

    Now in retrospect I would say: that was about God soothing us, but now in Psalm 117:1 we find it the other way around, we soothing God
    The word used to praise God meaning: pacify or calm.. What to think of it:?
    We do not have to calm God’s anger, but we still can calm, or pacify God, because God is like a Father to all of His children, like Pooh is concerned about her daughter, wouldn’t she be soothed when she would return to her God, (in the middle song she asked for prayer for her daughter) ANd so it must be with God, He is so concerned about all people.
    Like the lost son parable, wouldn’t it be soothing, or calming or pacifying the Father that the child had come to his senses and returned.
    Wouldn;t that be the same with God?
    I think that this must be pointing somewhat to the meaning of the word.
    God does not want anybdoy to make detours, like the lost child, He would rather we follow Him from the start, but when eventually we come to a deeper relation with God, a relation that touches our hearts, that moves our whole being, that must be pacifying to God.
    Imagine when all peoples, all who ever lived would come to this point, wouldn’t that not have a soothing effect on God, and that all because of God’s lovingkindness (love and mercy), because to the cross of Christ, that is everlasting.

    The other word praise used in Psalm 117:1-2 is Hallelu Yah praise God, but the word actually means “Shine”
    So when we say Hallujah we in fact say Shine God Shine.
    There is a song Shine Jesus Shine, by Graham Kendrick, but also one by Chrystal Lewis.

  41. poohpity says:

    I guess with God I have never thought He needed any soothing from us but quite the opposite we do need it from Him and for that we praise God. We praise because we trust Him with all our cares and worries because God is able and we are not. It seems His anger was quenched by the blood of the Lamb in Jesus and also in the times that these Psalms were written it was also quenched by the blood of sacrificial lambs as a foretaste to the final sacrifice.

  42. foreverblessed says:

    Afcourse God is soothing us!
    Still the text in psalm 117 uses this word: all nations sooth God,
    I did a search in the Strong concordance, it is number 7623,
    And it describes the word as to sooth , in the sense of : be free from care
    or to still, like stilling the waves of the sea Psalm 89:10, Psalm 65:8
    The New International version makes it: extol, other translations give: Laud
    But why not say sooth, or still or calm, not calm from anger , but calm from care in the sense of worry for a person who has gone astray.
    My heart aches because of your daughter, and I am sure God’s heart aches too.
    Wouldn’t it sooth Him when she returns to Him?
    I think that every time a person opens his heart for Christ, God is soothed:
    one person less to worry about, he is saved, His possession, and the real growth in spiritual sense can begin, a joyous work God does together with us. As long as a person has his heart closed for God, God is on the outside, walking around ever knocking on the door, and it is not opened. The person is walking as in a storm, but when he opens his heart, the storm is stilled. We feel that, but this verse makes me believe that that is what God feels too!
    This whole verse makes me wonder about God, He so loves us, He feels what we feel, He experiences all our troubles as if it happens to Him. He is around us, under us, I mean not only the christians but everybody, as Psalm 117:1 says: all nations!
    As short as this verse is, it is expansive, thanks for telling Steve.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.