As we enter this month of June and enjoy our first Lord’s Day in it, we turn to Psalm 118 for help and guidance in preparing to worship the one, true and living God, the Triune Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The human instrument also of this psalm we do not know, but it is evident that it is the psalmist’s personal testimony to the mighty and enduring mercy of the Lord, Who chastened him through oppressing nations yet also delivered Him. Because of that deliverance the psalmist calls the people of God to put their trust in Jehovah alone and to praise His enduring mercy. And at the end of the psalm it is evident that he also will express his thanks to the Lord in corporate worship. As sinners saved by God’s grace and mercy, this may also be our personal testimony – today and every day. With this in mind let’s read and meditate on Psalm 118:
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
5 I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
7 The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.
11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
12 They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:
20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.
21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
23 This is the Lord’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.
27 God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
There is really one other outstanding feature of this psalm that we want to point out today, and that is that it has Christ written all over it. We believe, of course, that the entire OT Psalter is Messianic, pointing to and declaring God’s Christ. But in some psalms this is more implicit and in other psalms this is more explicit. Psalm 118 is in the latter category. Plainly and powerfully Psalm 118 declares Christ. I would ask you to examine it again and look closely for these references to our Savior.
For one thing, and in general, when the psalmist speaks of his deliverance through the mercy of God, we know from the rest of Scripture that such deliverance and such mercy are only and always through Christ. God’s mercy to His elect people is centered in Christ alone and revealed in Him alone. So when the psalmist says he was rescued through God’s mercy, it means he was saved in Christ.
For another thing, notice how vss.15-16 speak of the “right hand” of God. From our NT perspective, and especially our recent commemoration of Christ’s ascension into heaven to the right hand of God, it should not be hard to see how Christ is referred to and extolled in these verses. He is not only at the right hand of God; He is the right hand of God. As the One through Whom the sovereign God exercises all His authority and power, and through Whom He does valiantly, Christ is the One who brings victory to His people, delivering them not only from mighty nations set on their destruction but also from sin and death and hell.
Further, and more specifically, we recognize the Christological significance of the words found in vss.22-23. They speak of our crucified Savior. And, indeed, Jesus Himself quoted from these verses to explain what was happening to him in his suffering and death (cf. Matt.23:29; Mk.12:10-11; Lu.13:35 – see also Acts 4:11). When we read these familiar verses, we should pause and reflect on their meaning in Christ and be humbled by what it took for God to rescue us. And we should remember that the truth contained in these verses is what enables us to say what we do in v.24. We can rejoice in this day that the Lord has made because Christ died for us and is now exalted for us at God’s right hand!
Finally, we see Christ here also in vss.25-26. These are the words the people shouted at the time of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of the passion week (cf. Matt.23:39; Mk.11:9-10; Lu.19:38; Jn.12:13). Even though many of those people did not truly know what they were saying because they did not understand the nature of our Lord’s ministry, yet when we in faith shout “Hosanna”! (“Save now, I beseech thee.”) and “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD”, we recognize Him as our conquering King, and we know and are assured of his saving ministry for us. The day is rapidly coming when God’s people shall shout these words again – this time at his final coming. Of all the days that God has made for us, that will be the day of greatest gladness and rejoicing.
And so we see how we are pointed to our beautiful Savior in this psalm. May our souls be stirred up to enter into the gates of the righteous and praise the God Who delivered us by sending His own Son to become our salvation (vss.20-21). Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
If you wish to meditate on Psalm 118 through music, I point you to our PRC Psalter page and specifically to this versification of this psalm (Click on the title below to hear the piano accompaniment.).
320. Thankfulness and Triumphant Joy. Psalm 118. L.M. (4 stanzas)
1. Ye gates of peace and joy untold,
Ye gates of righteousness, unfold,
That I may enter in and raise
A song of thankfulness and praise.
2. Within Thy gates, O God of grace,
Thy saints shall find a dwellingplace;
My thanks and praise to Thee I bear,
My Saviour, Who hast heard my prayer.
3. What wondrous things the Lord hath wrought!
The stone the builders set at naught,
Established by no human hand,
The chiefest cornerstone doth stand.
4. In this the day the Lord hath made
To Him be joyful honors paid;
Let us Thy full salvation see,
O Lord, send now prosperity.
5. Hosanna! Praise to Him proclaim
Who cometh in Jehovah’s Name;
May blessing from God’s dwellingplace
Descend on us in boundless grace.