A close-up shot of a worn Bible page, zoomed in on the concise text of the shortest chapter, capturing its brevity and significance in a single frame.

What Is The Shortest Chapter In The Bible?

The Bible contains many short verses and passages, but what is the shortest chapter? If you’re looking for a quick answer, the shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117 with only 2 verses.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore Psalm 117 in depth to understand what makes it the shortest chapter in the Bible. We will look at its meaning, context, significance and more. Read on for a detailed overview of this tiny but mighty Bible chapter.

An Overview of Psalm 117

Psalm 117 is well known as the shortest chapter in the entire Bible, comprising just 2 verses. Despite being only 55 words long in its English translation, this tiny Psalm delivers a hugely impactful message. Let’s take a closer look at why Psalm 117 stands out as the shortest chapter of Scripture.

The Shortest Chapter with Only 2 Verses

The full text of Psalm 117 reads:

“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.” (Psalm 117:1-2)

With just 2 verses containing 55 words in English, Psalm 117 takes the prize for the shortest chapter in the Bible. To put its brevity in perspective, the longest chapter in Scripture is Psalm 119, which contains a whopping 176 verses!

Located in the Book of Psalms

Psalm 117 is one of 150 Psalms included in the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. Psalms is a book of poetry and songs, traditionally ascribed to King David and other authors. The Psalms cover many themes, including praise, lament, wisdom, and messianic prophecy.

Despite being the shortest, Psalm 117 fits right in with the rest of the Psalms in its poetic expression of praise to God. Its brevity does not diminish its importance or impact.

A Call to Praise God

The overarching theme of Psalm 117 is a call to all nations and peoples to praise the Lord. Though brief, it powerfully summons everyone everywhere to worship God.

The first verse is a repetitive command to “praise the Lord.” This command is inclusive, addressed to “all you nations” and “all you peoples.” No one is excluded from offering praise.

The second verse gives the reason for this universal praise: God’s eternal love and faithfulness. His steadfast loyalty endures forever, so our praise should endure as well.

Universality of Praise

Psalm 117 is unique in its address to all nations and peoples. Most Psalms are written from an Israelite perspective, but this one calls everyone to join in praise.

In the New Testament, the apostles apply Psalm 117 as a prophecy of the inclusion of the Gentiles in salvation and worship of the one true God of Israel (Romans 15:11). This Psalm ultimately points to the universality of the Gospel.

Though only two verses long, Psalm 117 boldly declares that God is worthy of eternal praise from people of every tribe and tongue. This simple but profound truth is why Psalm 117 stands out as the shortest chapter in Scripture.

Meaning and Context of Psalm 117

Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, comprising just two verses. Yet in its brevity there is deep meaning and rich context. Let’s explore this tiny but powerful psalm.

A song of praise

The psalm opens with a call to “Praise the Lord” and concludes by highlighting God’s eternal lovingkindness and truth. Though short, it packs praise into every word, inviting all people everywhere to exalt and worship God.

Authorship and setting

Psalm 117 is one of the “orphan psalms” with no named author. But its message aligns with other psalms urging universal praise, so scholars believe it was likely written after the Jewish exile when God’s people recognized His sovereignty over all nations.

The psalm reflects a growing desire to share God’s love with the world.

Connection to other Psalms

Psalm 117 has linguistic and thematic connections to other praise psalms:

  • Its opening line echoes Psalm 106, 113, and 135, linking it to those songs of praise.
  • Its brevity and call to praise God above the nations resonates with Psalms 96, 98, and 100.
  • Its focus on God’s eternal mercy aligns with Psalms 100, 107, 118, and 136.

Though short, Psalm 117 fits right into the biblical tapestry of praise!

Part of the Hallel Psalms

In Jewish tradition, Psalm 117 is part of the “Egyptian Hallel” – Psalms 113-118 recited at Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. These psalms celebrate God’s goodness and steadfast love. Psalm 117 may be short, but as part of the Hallel, it reminds us to praise God for His mighty acts.

So in just two verses, Psalm 117 comprises a powerful mini-anthem testifying to God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, and endless love for all people. This shortest chapter packs a punch!

Significance and Impact of Psalm 117

Emphasis on universality

Psalm 117 stands out for its brevity and its remarkable call for all nations and peoples to praise God. In just two verses, it emphasizes God’s mercy and truth as extending to all people, not just the nation of Israel.

This inclusive, universal message was unique in much of the Old Testament, which focused on God’s special relationship with Israel.

Many scholars believe Psalm 117’s radical call for all peoples to worship Israel’s God helped inspire later biblical writers to develop more inclusive theology. The book of Jonah, for example, has a similar universal theme, as do parts of Second Isaiah.

Jesus and the apostle Paul later built on this trajectory to proclaim that God desires salvation for all nations through Christ.

Used liturgically in Judaism and Christianity

As the shortest chapter in Scripture, Psalm 117 holds distinction as the go-to psalm for collective worship. Ancient Israel likely used it as a responsive reading. It continues to be recited in Jewish liturgy today as part of the Hallel (meaning “praise”) collection of psalms.

Christians also adopted Psalm 117 for worship early on. The 4th-century Eastern church leader John Chrysostom recommended its brevity and universality made it ideal for congregational recitation before the Lord’s Supper. Many churches still use it this way in their communion liturgies.

Influenced later biblical writers

Psalm 117’s inclusive message profoundly shaped later Scripture. Scholars propose it helped inspire the opening line of Psalm 118, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever,” which became a refrain in post-exilic Judaism.

Some also connect it to the universal salvation passages in Second Isaiah.

In the New Testament, Psalm 117 may have influenced Luke 2:14 (“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests”), Romans 15:11 (“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him”), and Revelation 15:3-4 (“Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.

Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you”).

So while tiny, Psalm 117’s bold call helped shape biblical revelation and our liturgical heritage to proclaim God’s salvation and lordship over all nations.

Analysis of Key Words and Phrases

Praise the Lord

The phrase “Praise the Lord” (Psalm 117:1) is an exhortation to glorify and worship God. As the shortest chapter in Scripture, Psalm 117 provides a succinct call to praise God among all peoples and nations for His eternal loving kindness and faithfulness.

Though brief, it contains several key themes: God’s sovereignty, the universality of praise, and the motivations for worship such as God’s mercy and truth.

All you nations

“All you nations” is a call for global worship. As Psalm 117 is the middle chapter of the Bible, its central location underscores God’s desire for all peoples from every tribe and tongue to worship Him (Revelation 7:9).

This universal summons to praise bookends the Psalm, providing an inclusiveness that overcomes human divisions. God is no tribal deity but the Lord of all heaven and earth who desires Worship from all nations.

His steadfast love

The steadfast love of God for His people culminates His covenant promises. The Hebrew word translated “steadfast love” (hesed) occurs over 200 times in the Old Testament to describe God’s faithful covenant affection. God’s hesed endures forever (Psalm 117:2), spanning generations (Psalm 118:1).

Even during times of judgment for disobedience, God’s loyal love remains steadfast. His covenant-keeping compassion motivates praise from all nations.

Psalm 117 in Modern Culture and Media

References in literature and music

Psalm 117, despite being the shortest chapter in the Bible, has made several meaningful appearances in literature and music over the centuries. Here are some noteworthy examples:

  • The psalm is referenced in the classic hymn “From All That Dwell Below the Skies” by Isaac Watts. The hymn paraphrases Psalm 117 and calls all people to praise God.
  • In Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities, the character Carton memorably recites the Psalm before his execution. It highlights the psalm’s poignant yet hopeful message.
  • Poet T.S. Eliot alludes to Psalm 117 in his masterpiece The Waste Land. It evokes the psalm’s universal call to praise God, contrasting with the poem’s gloomy mood.
  • Contemporary Christian music artist Chris Tomlin recorded a worship song titled “Psalm 117 (The Shortest Psalm)” in 2004, renewing interest in this ancient psalm.

These examples showcase Psalm 117’s lasting cultural influence and resonance despite its brevity. Its uplifting words of global praise to God have inspired many creative works over the centuries.

Used in church worship services

This two-verse psalm frequently appears in Christian church services and liturgies due to its spirit of joyful praise.

  • Many churches use Psalm 117 as a call to worship at the start of their service. Its opening line “Praise the Lord, all you nations” powerfully calls people together in worship.
  • Some churches recite or sing the psalm as a doxology, especially in ecumenical services. The psalm reminds believers that praising God unites us across nations, denominations, and backgrounds.
  • Certain Christian traditions incorporate Psalm 117 into their liturgy of the hours. It provides a brief yet meaningful hymn of praise in services throughout the day.
  • Many Taizé services feature the singing of Psalm 117, either in English or Latin. Its repetitive verses are well-suited to Taizé’s contemplative style of worship.

Beyond whole services, Psalm 117 regularly appears in Sunday worship bulletins, responsive readings, and communion liturgies. It offers a simple, focused way for worshippers to jointly praise God. The psalm’s brevity and familiarity aid memorization too.

For churches globally, this shortest Bible chapter provides a unifying refrain of praise across cultures.


In conclusion, Psalm 117 stands out as the shortest chapter in Scripture with only 2 concise verses. Despite its brevity, this psalm delivers a profound message calling all nations to praise God for His eternal lovingkindness.

The universality and simplicity of Psalm 117 has allowed it to transcend time and culture. It continues to resonate in worship and media today, reminding us that God deserves never-ending praise from all peoples across all generations.

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