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Weds 1 December - Psalm 118

Psalm 118

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures for ever.

Let Israel say:
    ‘His love endures for ever.’
Let the house of Aaron say:
    ‘His love endures for ever.’
Let those who fear the Lord say:
    ‘His love endures for ever.’

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
11 They surrounded me on every side,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
12 They swarmed around me like bees,
    but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defence;
    he has become my salvation.

15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16     The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’
17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up[c] to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures for ever.

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Meditation on Psalm 118

Martin Luther claimed this Psalm as a very personal Psalm.  This is my own beloved psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life, I fell in love with this psalm especially. Therefore I call it my own. When emperors and kings, the wise and the learned, and even saints could not aid me, this psalm proved a friend and helped me out of many great troubles. As a result, it is dearer to me than all the wealth, honour, and power of the pope, the Turk, and the emperor. I would be most unwilling to trade this psalm for all of it.”

This is the last of the great ‘Egyptian Hallel’ Psalms which were used in Jewish liturgy at the great religious festivals, (Passover, Festival of Weeks, Tabernacles, Tabernacles, Dedication and New Moon – see Leviticus 23)

Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the  Festival meal and Psalms 115-118 would be sung after the meal.
When Jesus had celebrated the meal with His disciples, they went out to the Mount of Olives  ‘after they had sung a hymn.’  This would have been the last four of the Hallel songs.

The Psalm has different voices speaking – sometimes a group of people, sometimes an individual.

  1. A CALL TO WORSHIP Verses 1-4

The Psalm starts and ends with ‘Give thanks to the LORD for He is good; His love endures forever.’
Not only is everything that God does is good but He IS good.
This is not just a call to the individual but a call to all the people.
‘Let Israel say... Let the House of Aaron say (the priests)... let those who fear the LORD say...
This covers Jews and Gentiles and still applies today – we can rejoice that ‘His love endures forever’ and for that, we continue to give thanks.


Here is a personal testimony which all God’s people can identify with. “ I cried to the LORD...”
And notice the responses:

  • He brought me into a spacious place – cf. Psalm 18:19 – this speaks of freedom
  • He is with me – speaks of His abiding presence
  • He is my helper – speaks of strength and enabling
  • He is a place of refuge – speaks of safety and security

And notice the effect this has :

  • There is no need to fear
  • There is victory over my enemies

    The psalmist was surrounded by enemies. He describes them as ‘like bees’.
    We, too, are surrounded by enemies but we, too, know where to turn, as did the Psalmist.
  • ‘in the name of the LORD...’
  • ‘the LORD helped me’
  • ‘the LORD is my strength and my song’
  • ‘the LORD is my salvation’


This was the song that Moses sang with the Israelites when they came out of Egypt and across the Red Sea.
Exodus 15:2

How did the Psalmist respond? Just as with Moses and Miriam and the Israelites, so here, there are the songs of triumph, recognising that it is the LORD who has brought about this victory.
‘The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things’ – notice the threefold repetition.

And because it is the LORD who has done this ...

  • I will live
  • I will proclaim

Therefore I can come into His presence – verses 19-21 - as the chorus reminds us: ‘I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise; this is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice for He has made me glad.’

  1. A LOOKING AHEAD TO JESUS Verses 22-29

What drew the writer to this statement about the cornerstone is discussed by many but one thing we do know is this – it was a prophetic word looking forward to Jesus.
(This one verse is a separate study in itself.)

The Cornerstone was an important stone that held two rows of stones together in a corner or stabilised the stones at the foundation or elsewhere in the building.
Spurgeon says, ‘He (Jesus) is the bond of the building, holding Jew and Gentile in firm unity. This precious cornerstone binds God and man together in wondrous amity (friendship) for He is both in one. He joins earth and heaven together, for He participates in each. He joins time and eternity together for He was a man of few years and yet He is the Ancient of Days. Wondrous Cornerstone.’

This verse is quoted by Jesus Himself as relating to Him – see Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10-11; Luke 20:17.
Peter refers to this verse in Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:4-7.
also refers to Jesus as the Cornerstone in Ephesians 2:20.

The Psalmist’s final focus is on God – ‘MY God.’
No wonder he ends where he began – ‘Give thanks to the LORD...’

So we too focus on God as we give thanks to Him, ‘for He is good – all the time.’

- - -  

(Roger Purdom) 


New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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