PSALM 118 TALK: HALLELUJAH – GOD IS GOOD FOR GOD IS LOVE

PSALM 118 TALK: HALLELUJAH – GOD IS GOOD FOR GOD IS LOVE

(A Psalm that presents the central biblical idea that the God of the bible is good because he is a God of love who saves, leads and protects his people even in times of difficulty and strife and because of that we should praise and worship him).

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INTRODUCTION

Early this week I went to the dentist for the first time in four years and one of the reasons why it took so long to go to a dentist again is that four years ago my longtime dentist had retired. This meant I had to find a new dentist to go to and so at my first appointment with my new dentist I had to explain why i had no teeth on the top of my mouth.

I explained to my new dentist and a lady who works as her assistant nurse, who happens to go to my church that when I attend that when I was 14 years old my father had a major car accident when he picked up me and my sister and two cousins from the train station after we had been on a church fellowship picnic. The car was hit at the back of the right hand side so my father was technically in the wrong as in Australia at that time you had to give way to all cars on your right hand side.

I was flung from the car, there were no seat belts in cars in those days. As I was flung from the car it is believed my face stuck the frame of the door of the car shattering three of my front teeth and badly cutting my bottom lip. As I landed on the road outside of the car my head hit the gutter and I suffered a fractured skull. The car then continued to spin out of control and landed on top of an old colonial milage stone and underneath that is were I lay unconscious.

I was the only passenger in the car who suffered any injuries in the accident and for two days I lay in hospital in a kind of coma. When I woke up in hospital I had a massive headache for two days but eventually after a week in hospital I was well enough to go home.

However over the next three years I went many times to the dentist and even the dental hospital as the trauma of this accident to my teeth caused my top teeth one by one to developed abscesses and they had to be taken out. By the age of 18 it was decided that the best solution for my top teeth problems was that all remaining teeth had to be removed and a full top denture plate was made.

As a result of the very expensive costs and trauma I suffered it was decided I would seek third party compensation by technically suing my father who was covered by compulsory third party insurance which we have in Australia for all registered vehicles. The money from this insurance paid fully for all my dental costs and at age 21 I received a cheque for a reasonable amount of money. Two years later I believed God was calling me into full time youth ministry and I applied for Bible college and I realised why God had given me the money from the insurance as it paid for my first two years fees and living expenses of a three year bible college course.

After I told my dentist and her assistant of my story of the trauma I suffered to my teeth from the car accident i said I should have been killed by that accident but the assistant who I said goes to my church said, “God obviously had a plan for your life”. When I went home and reflected on what had happened to me I realised that indeed God is good and he not only protected me from death that day but he used that traumatic time in my life for eventual good in using it to provide the money to pay my first two years of bible college training.

This and other difficulties in my life makes me think of Paula words in Romans 8: 28 that says,

“And we know that in all things God works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

Psalm 118 starts with a call to thank or praise God because he is good and his love endures forever,

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his love endures forever”.

We really do not know who wrote this Psalm but we do know when it was placed in the Psalms as it is part of the fifth and final collection we know was put together after the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon in what is called the intertestamental period or the time between the last Old Testament book of Malachi and the start of the New Testament that records the life and ministry of Jesus the Messiah or The Christ.

This opening verse appears all through the bible and has strong connections to David who seems to be its first author in 1 Chronicles 16: 36 which is a verse in his Psalm or song he composed for the procession for the entry of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

Then it appears in the time of Solomon in 2 Chronicles 5: 13 when the first temple is dedicated. It then crops up in the time of King Jehoshaphat as part of the song sung by his army as they went into battle against a combined invading army of Ammonites and Moabites recorded in 2 Chronicles 20: 21.

Finally it appears again this time at the dedication of the foundation stones of the second temple after the Jews had returned from captivity in Babylon receded in Ezra 3: 11.

It also features in a number of Psalms besides Psalm 118 as it is in Psalm 100: 5, 107: 1 and is the main feature and theme of Psalm 136.

So it seems something of Psalm 118 has a long history starting with David and continuing through to the time of the return of the Jews from captivity in Babylon.

The theory of the composition of this Psalm I found most interesting is the one I read in a commentary by Gordon Churchyard who says this Psalm might have fully come into being in 444 BC. His argument for this date is that this is when a great celebration that involved a procession over the nearly completed walls Jerusalem into the nearly built second temple in the time of Nehemiah recorded in Nehemiah 12.

His reasoning is in the explanation of verse 27, which reads,

“The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festival procession up to the horns of the altar.”

It is believed that this dedication of the nearly completed walls of Jerusalem took place as part of the festival of Tabernacles where Jewish worshippers made the roofs of their little temporary dwellings out of palm trees and went to the temple at the time of the festival waving palm branches as part of that procession. This of course is the very festival being celebrated when Jesus road into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday.

The concept of this Psalm being a song designed and used for a procession into the Temple at the time of the festival of Tabernacles is the only explanation for what the Psalmist is talking about in verse 27 of his Psalm when he refers to,

“Boughs in hand, join in the festival procession up to the horns of the altar.”

So this Psalm has a truly fascinating background and is also the last of the Egyptian Hallels which are Psalms said or sung during the Jewish celebration of the passover and its message of God’s goodness shown by his love manifest to his people when they faced great opposition and needed God’s salvation out of slavery in Egypt. It is also a great Psalm to celebrate God saving his people out of the bondage of captivity in Babylon. Finally it is a great Psalm for the celebration of God’s people out of the bondage of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son the promised Messiah.

God is good because God is love is therefore the theme I will explore through this Psalm talk and my outline for this Psalm reflects this:

(1 – 4) GOD IS GOOD BECAUSE OF HIS LOVE FOR US

1. (vs. 1) God is good because his love endures forever
2. (2 – 4) God is good so his people should declare his love

2. (5 – 21) GOD IS GOOD BECAUSE HE ALONE SAVES US

1. (5 – 14) God’s goodness and love is seen in his salvation
2. (15 – 21) God is good so live your life in praise

3. (22 – 29) GOD IS GOOD SO HE DESERVES OUR WORSHIP AND PRAISE

1. (22 – 25) God is good so remember what he’s done for us and rejoice
2. (26 – 28) God is good so come before him in worship
3. (vs. 29) God is good because his love endures forever

(1 – 4) GOD IS GOOD BECAUSE OF HIS LOVE FOR US

1. (vs. 1) God is good because his love endures forever

As I said in my introduction this first verse appears at least 7 times in other bible references and the last time it appears in various forms in Psalm 136 over twenty five times. The first part of verse 1 holds for me the key words of,

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good”

Stephen J. Cole in his remarks on this verse in Psalm 136 quotes the amazing comprehensive biblical definition of the concept that God is good from a writer called Stephen Charnock from a book called, “The Existence and attributes of God”,

“God is only originally good, good of himself. All created goodness is a rivulet from this fountain, but Divine goodness has no spring. God only is infinitely good. God is only perfectly good, because only infinitely good. the goodness of God is the measure and rule of goodness in everything else. God only is immutably good. There is not such a perpetual light in the sun as there is a fulness of goodness in God”.

Another great writer on the attributes of God is Arthur Pink and he writes,

“All goodness there is in any creation has been imparted from the Creator, but God’s goodness is underived, for it is the essence of His eternal nature. As God is infinite in power from all eternity, before there was any display thereof, or any act of omnipotency put forth, so He was eternally good before there was any communication of his bounty, or any creature to whom it might be imparted”.

Jesus says in Mark 10: 18,

“No one is good – except God alone”.

Jesus is implying that for him to be good he must therefore be God or as we know from the New Testament part of the Godhead. We are therefore the opposite of good and good is also called righteousness in the bible and Isaiah says this about our unrighteousness in Isaiah 64: 6,

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”.

God therefore needs to give us goodness or righteousness as a gift and Paul tells us in Romans 5: 17,

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! “

So through faith in Christ we are given the gift of righteousness or goodness and even David knew that only God and his forgiveness could make him good especially after his sins of adultery and murder as he speaks of in Psalm 51: 10,

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”.

So Psalm 118 kicks off with the statement that God is good but his goodness is primarily seen in what verse 1 goes on to say about this great good God of the bible for it says,

“His love endures forever”

David knew that God was a loving and forgiving God because he starts his Psalm 51, a Psalm of confession and repentance with these words,

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions”.

These words of verse 1 about the goodness and love of God appear many times in the bible and each time they seem to be spoken in the context of God’s loving salvation to his unworthy people. When Psalm 118 was put in the book of Psalms and at least finalised as the Psalm as we know it God had recently saved his people known as Israel out of the bondage of captivity in Babylon. We know his people did not deserve God’s act of loving salvation because they were only in the captivity in Babylon because they were so sinful that God had to judge them or as verse 18 says chastise them,

“The Lord has chastened me severely but he has not given me over to death”.

Yet these wayward people who were defeated so convincingly by the mighty Babylonians were freed from their captivity in Babylon after only 70 years or so and this salvation from bondage in Babylon which is like their ancient relatives salvation from slavery in Egypt is what I think this Psalm is referring to when it speaks of God’s love that endures forever.

We have in Jesus Christ a greater demonstration of this amazing love of God because we too do not deserve this love of God saving us from the bondage of sin and yet God has done it as Paul writes in Ephesians 2: 1 – 7,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.

Finally God shows us how great he is by how great his love is and this should as the first words of this first verse say cause us to,

“Give thanks”

2. (2 – 4) God is good so his people should declare his love

In my study of Psalm 118 I came across the work of a lady named Nancy Koester who propounds the idea that Psalm 118 became entrance liturgy to the temple and was particularly used at the festival of the Passover. As such she says,

“The Psalm was a liturgical script, complete with speaking parts for leaders and congregation”.

This seems obvious in verse 2 to 4 as it has three different people addressed to and if Nancy Koester is right actually speaking in this liturgy for entering the Temple for worship. The three groups of people are:

Israel (vs. 2)
House of Aaron (priests) (vs. 3)
Those who fear the Lord (vs. 4)

These three groups of people cover all the possible worshippers as Israel are those born as God’s people, Israel while the house of Aaron are those selected by God to be priests or leaders in worship and I believe those who fear the Lord are those even outside of the nation of Israel who have turned to the God of Israel or better still the God of the bible.

We saw these same three groups of people back in Psalm 115 verses 9 – 11 and a more detailed run down of these three groups of people are in my Psalm talk on Psalm 115. But for now the focus these three groups of people are to have is the goodness of God expressed in his love that endures forever.

Each of these three groups of people are called to “say” or proclaim the love of God that endures forever as we read in verses 2 – 4,

“Let Israel say: ‘His love endures forever’. Let the house of Aaron say: ‘His love endures forever’. Let those who fear the Lord say: ‘His love endures forever”.

Non- conformist churches often seem to throw rocks at churches like the kind of church I attend called The Anglican church because we dare to have some form of liturgy or set prayers but here we have yet another example of liturgy in the Psalms that was a major part of Hebrew Old Testament worship. Sure liturgies can fall into the danger of being just words some churches just parrot off without thinking about but even extempore prayers can be just people saying religious or even biblical words without real thought or heart felt belief put into them as well.

Jesus gives us this advice on how we should and should not pray in Matthew 6: 5 – 8,

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him”.

Jesus then gives us some basic liturgy in what we call the Lords prayer which is not only a prayer he wants us to pray but is a model for real prayer for us to copy in verse 8 – 12.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”.

So part of the set prayer for entering the Temple for worship according to Psalm 118 verses 2 – 4 is to proclaim the goodness of God as seen in his love that endures forever. All of Israel was to declare in their entry to worship the message that their God was a God of endless amazing love sometimes called mercy or grace and Peter in 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10 says that through what Christ has done on the cross we who believe in him and what he has done for us are now God’s people and we too must proclaim what God has done for us in saving us by his mercy or his love,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

Our entry into worship should be in the context of our proclamation of God’s amazing love for us which endures forever because we have been saved by a eternally good and loving God.

2. (5 – 21) GOD IS GOOD BECAUSE HE ALONE SAVES US

1. (5 – 14) God’s goodness and love is seen in his salvation

Psalm 118 now changes to speak in the first person as we read the writer speaking as “I” and using first person words like “my” but if this is a Psalm used by God’s people entering worship then maybe the first person style we read from verse 5 to verse 21 is simply a devise as many modern hymns use when they are written in the first person but sung by a group of people as the group identifies together with what the first person truths are speaking about.

If this is literally the first person then it would appear as commentators like Allan Harman speak of this being the words of a leader like the king who led his people into battle but if it is as other commentators say, a way of speaking for the nation facing their enemies in particularly spiritual battles with the Lord helping them then this Psalm gives us a different slant and applies to us a the church in the battles of life and not just as a individual believer.

It is as the Nation speaking in the first person that I made the best sense of the teaching of this Psalm and so with that approach I hope to open up this Psalm to you.

So in verses 5 – 14 we will explore the theme of God’s goodness and love seen in our salvation, a salvation won by God for us alone. I have broken verses 5 – 14 into two main parts:

  1. God’s goodness is seen in how he has saved us (vs’s 5 – 7)
  2. God’s goodness is seen in how he alone can save us (vs’s 8 – 14)

Lets then have a close look at each of these two parts:

  1. God’s goodness is seen in how he has saved us (vs’s 5 – 7)

As I have already pointed out this Psalm switches from third person in verse 1, then first person plural in verses 2 to 4 to first person singular here is verses 5 – 21 and then first person plural in verses 22 – 27 then first person singular in verse 28 and finally third person in verse 29.

Yet it seems that this Psalm is an example of a piece of liturgy said or sung by a group of people in a procession into the Temple to worship God.

This means I favour the interpretation that many commentators like Leopold favour that when the Psalm read’s “I” or “me” it is referring to the Nation as a whole now saying or singing the words of this Psalm.

Even if this Psalm was not written by a person who lived after the time of the liberation of God’s people from captivity in Babylon it was definitely placed in the fifth book of Psalms after the return from captivity in Babylon so the question I will first answer in my exposition of this Psalm will be,

What did this Psalm say to the Jewish people who read or sang this Psalm who lived after the return the time of the captivity in Babylon?

I will then answer the question:

What then does this say to us today?

Lets look at verses 5 to 7 with this in mind as well as the main point that these verses speak of the goodness of God seen in how he has saved us.

First of all then we have verse 5,

“When hard pressed I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place”.

These words would have been very appropriate for the Jews who lived after the return from captivity in Babylon as they describe perfectly what happened to them.

Firstly they were hard pressed or in a very difficult and hopeless situation. They had been soundly and cruelly defeated by the mighty Babylonians and then most of the people who survived were forcibly dragged off to a foreign land where they would have been like under permanent house arrest for something like 70 years. The book of Lamentations poetically describes the people in captivity plight.

Listen to this description of Israel in captivity in Lamentations 1: 2 – 4,

“Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies. 3 After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile. She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress. 4  The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to her appointed festivals. All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish”.

So there in captivity in Babylon verse 5 of Psalm 118 says,

“I cried to the Lord”

In chapter 2 of the book I Lamentations we have in verses 18 – 19 again a poetic description of the desperate prayers or cries to the Lord by God’s people trapped in captivity,

“The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord. You walls of Daughter Zion, let your tears flow like a river day and night; give yourself no relief, your eyes no rest. 19 Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner”.

Finally verse 5 of Psalm 118 says,

”He brought me into a spacious place”.

Around 70 years the Jews were locked up in terrible and painful bondage in Babylon but then God moved through history to use the Persian empire to defeat and overran the seemingly all powerful Babylonians and then issue a decree for captive nations like Israel to return home the Jews returned to the wide open spaces o their homeland and freedom.

These words in verse 5 of Psalm 118 speak of the freedom and joy God’s salvation brought to the Jews returning from exile and a good example of what that was probably like is captured well in the book of Ezra when the emotions of freedom is recored when the foundations of the new Temple is laid, recored in Ezra 3: 11 – 13 (note how the opening of Psalm 118 is used in this celebration):

“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away”.

As christians we to have the joy of our salvation in Christ from the bondage of sin and the wonderful gift of eternal and Peter speaks of this joy and rejoicing we have in Christ even if at times we might have to face difficulties in this life in 1 Peter 3 – 9,

“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls”.

God is good and his love endures forever and we know that because God through Jesus has saved us and will bring us all one day into the spacious and beautiful place of heaven above.

In verse 6 the writer of Psalm 118 tells the people in the procession to say,

“The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’

The Jews returning from captivity in Babylon could really relate to these words as they now have seen a real and powerful example of God not deserting them even though for a while it might have seen he had. God used Israel’s captivity in exile to judge his people for their many sins leading up to it but this does not mean he gave up on them for he had a plan to bring them home once he hoped they had learnt their lesson of what it means to turn from the Lord.

So even the mighty babylonians were in the end no match for the one and only powerful God and Paul tells us in Ephesians 6: 10 that we can be strong in the Lord and power of his might and in Philippians 4: 13,

“I can do all things through him who gives me strength”

Jesus promises his protection and help and that no one can take the salvation he has won for us from us in John 10: 27,

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand”.

Finally as verse 6 of Psalm 118 says Jesus, our Lord is always with us as he promises to in Matthew 28: 19 – 20,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

As Paul says in Romans 8: 31,

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

So the writer of Psalm 118 has his people in his procession to the Temple for worship say much the same thing as Paul has just stated in what he goes on to say in verse 7,

“The Lord is with me; he is my help. I look in triumph on my enemies”.

The conflict with the peoples enemies now features in this Psalm, so what enemies did the Jews face when they returned from captivity in Babylon?

Obviously they had faced the great enemy of Babylon who had recently conquered them and took them into captivity so this verse would have brought to mind to the people of that day of the Lord’s triumph over the Babylonians.

However Psalm 118 seems to be referring to triumph over ongoing current enemies and we know from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah that the returning Jews to Israel and particularly Jerusalem had a number of enemies who opposed them and caused them great difficulty. Nehemiah speaks of two enemies of that time in Samaria, once northern Israel and Ammon now modern Jordan opposing the building the walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 4: 1 – 3,

“When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

Nehemiah also speaks of opposition from people he calls Arabs in verse 7 and 8 and people from Ashdod plotting together to come to Jerusalem fight the Jews repairing the walls of the city,

“But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it”.

However Nehemiah speaks of praying to God for help and protection in verse 4,

“Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity”.

And again in verse 9,

“But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat”.

Nehemiah speaks of further opposition from Israel’s enemies seeking to stop him and his people building the walls of Jerusalem in chapter 6 and attempts are even made on his life and his enemies use so called prophets to give him false advice to trap him but Nehemiah and the people soldier on in their re- building trusting in the Lord and then we read of the Lords victory or triumph over these enemies in Nehemiah 6: 14 – 16,

“Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. 15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.

16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God”.

The New Testament says that we too will face great opposition as we live for the Lord but if we also trust in the Lord we will triumph over our many enemies as Paul advises the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 3: 1 – 5,

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance”.

God is so good that he calls us to proclaim his Gospel and at the same time Jesus is not only with us to guide and protects us (as we read in Matthew 28: 20) but as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 2: 14 – 16,

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?”

2. God’s goodness is seen in how he alone can save us (vs’s 8 – 14)

The writer of Psalm 118 then in verses 8 and 9 to get the members of the triumphant procession into the Temple to speak of the goodness of the Lord in being our only refuge and saviour in a kind of repetitive saying that goes like this,

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than trust in humans. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes”.

To the people of Ezra and Nehemiah’s day, those who came back from captivity in Babylon it was a temptation to rely on themselves or look to their Persian overlords when local nations apposed them and even threatened them with violence and war if they persisted in rebuilding their temple and city walls but we saw in the previous part that God fraughted all their enemies attempts to stop this rebuilding and at the completion of the rebuilding of the walls we read in Nehemiah 6: 16,

“When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self – confidence, because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God”.

This means that under Ezra and Nehemiah’s Godly leadership the people sought refuge and salvation in the Lord alone and proved that it is better to take refuge in God alone and not anyone else even kings or princes even though the Persian leaders where used by God to allow the Jews to continue and compete their rebuilding work in Jerusalem.

James has this advice and God’s promises that comes from it in James 4: 7 – 10,

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”.

We must follow the example of the Jews who returned from captivity in Babylon led by Ezra and Nehemiah and submit ourselves to God not anyone else and if we do he will come near to us and as James says, “Lift us up”.

The writer of Psalm 118 then spells out what this opposition the people faced was like in verse 10 – 13, which says,

“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”.

These verses particularly read like a portion of liturgy a group of people would say or sing together with the little refrain that is said or sung three times,

“In the name of the Lord I cut them down”

David Guzik simple explanation of these repeating words is helpful here when he writes,

“The Psalmist understood that the power for victory was not in Himself, but only in the name of God”.

These verses finish with the words,

“”But the Lord helped me”

Guzik says,

“He would be rescued as the Lord helped him”

Israel was only able to get out of captivity in Babylon because the Lord fought for them through the Persians and therefore the Lord helped them.

Then these verses build up a picture of the enormous overwhelming size and power of what Israel was up against during there recent captivity and even when they were back in their homeland and seeking to rebuild both the Temple and Jerusalem’s walls with three poetic descriptions in these verses:

  1. All the nations surrounded me (vs. 10)
  2. Surrounded me on every side (vs. 11)
  3. They swarmed around like bees (vs. 12)

I spoke of how almost every nation that surrounded Israel at the time of the Jews returning from captivity opposed and threatened the returning Jews as they sought rebuild the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem. So the idea of being surrounded by their enemies fits this time of the return from captivity in Babylon.

Then we have the image of their enemies being like a swarm of bees and this also fits the time of the return from captivity in Babylon as the number of Jews who returned to join a small population of local Jews who had remained in the land was so small compared to the Nations that surrounded them as well as the rest of the Persian empire.

Finally verse 13 says simply,

“I was pushed back and about to fall”.

So things got pretty desperate and Nehemiah says in chapter 4 of opposition and difficulty that halted rebuilding and or slowed it down but the people of God at that time trusted in the Lord and the words of the rest of verse 13 ring true to what happened in Nehemiah’s time when it says,

“But the Lord helped me”.

Christians have faced great opposition since the time of Christ and have often been in a small minority outnumbered like being overcome by a swarm of bees but as the second part of verse 12 says they saw their enemies,

“consumed quickly as burning thorns”.

Which is a picture of a fire that burns intensely but very quickly often with a loud cracking sound according to many of the commentaries I read on this.

One remarkable example in the Christian churches history is the time of the Reformation and especially in the case of Martin Luther. It is said that Martin Luther really loved this Psalm and said this about it,

“This is my own Psalm which I specially love. Through the entire Psalm and the Holy Scriptures are indeed very dear to me my sole comfort and my very life, yet I have come to grips with this Psalm in a special sense, so I feel free to call it my own”.

Luther was a lowly monk from the back waters of Wittenberg Germany yet he stood up against the overwhelming power of the Catholic church of his day to say it had lost its way by not understanding the true Gospel of the bible and through God’s protection he lived to lead a great reformation of the Christian faith.

Luther’s faith was in God and Christ alone for his salvation and God protected him against overwhelming odds just as Paul tells the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 3: 3,

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one”.

Finally in these verses that present God’s goodness seen in how he alone can save us we have verse 14 that says just that,

“The Lord is my strength and my defence: he has become my salvation”.

This verse comes straight out of the song of Moses in Exodus 15 when he and the people of Israel saw God make a path for them through the red sea and then how God then closed that path on the Egyptian army that pursued them killing them all as we read in Exodus 15: 2,

“The Lord is my strength and my defence ; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him”.

It is no accident that this Psalm along with the previous five Psalms were and are used by the Jews as part of the Jewish festival of Passover when they remember how God miraculously saved their ancestors out of slavery in Egypt.

The Jews who returned from captivity in Babylon also saw something similar when God’s powerful hand saved them out of the bondage of captivity in Babylon and we have seen the same sort of thing when we see how God through The Lord Jesus Christ has saved us out of the bondage of sin through his death on the cross as Paul declares in Galatians 2: 20,

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.

And relating to slave of sin Paul says in Romans 6: 17 – 18,

“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness”.

2. (15 – 21) God is good so live your life in praise

The writer of Psalm 118 now moves his procession to the Temple to do what he determined at the start of his Psalm to do namely thank God or praise God for his goodness seen primarily in his love that endures forever. He does this in this second part of the second section of the Psalm by speaking about three good things about God that should cause his people to shout for joy about their God or praise him for:

  1. God’s goodness seen in his powerful right hand (15 – 16)
  2. God’s goodness seen in saving his people from death (17 – 18)
  3. God’s goodness realised as his people enter his presence (19 – 21)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three good things to praise God for:

  1.  God’s goodness seen in his powerful right hand (15 – 16)

The writer of Psalm 118 speaks of the joyful praise that should and he believes does come from God’s faithful people who he calls “the righteous”, he writes in verse 15a,

“Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous”

Commentators agree that the expression “tents of the righteous” is a poetic expression for the homes of the true believers in the nation of Israel.

However I believe because of the mention of boughs or branches in the hands of those in this procession in verse 27 that this procession was part of the Jewish Festival of tabernacles also called the Festival of booths because during that festival the Jews lived in Jerusalem for 8 days in temporary dwellings like tents and the roof of these temporary structures were usually made out of Palm tree branches so the “Tents of the Righteous” could also refer to God fearing / believing Jews celebrating this festival.

This festival remembered how God freed the people from slavery in Egypt and then provided for them during their wilderness wanderings as they lived in temporary dwellings like tents.

Again this festival is remembering how God has been good to his people and this should cause his faithful people to shout for joy or praise him for his goodness to them. The goodness of God had been seen again through the return from captivity in Babylon when we know this Psalm was placed in the fifth book of Psalms so the people of that day did shout to God with joy because of his victory over their main enemy which was Babylon at that time.

As Christians we are called to praise and thank God at all times in the New Testament and particularly for the act of our Salvation carried out by The Lord Jesus Christ as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 1: 4,

“I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus”.

Then in the second half of verse 15 and in verse 16 the writer of Psalm 118 speaks of God’s goodness to us revealed in what he calls, “The Lord’s right hand”,

Vs. 15b, “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things”

Vs. 16,, “The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things”.

Leopold calls this,

“A beautiful instance of solemn reiteration”

So it too lends itself to a communal song for worship which I believe was used as part of a procession from the nearly rebuilt walls of Jerusalem and then into the temple through the inner gates of the Temple as we will see soon in verses 19 and 20.

The concept of the “right hand of God” is used a lot in the book of Psalms like Psalms 16: 8, 63: 8 and 139: 10 and in other parts of the OldTestament as well like Isaiah 41: 13 and Lamentations 2:3). It is an expression that speaks of God’s power as the right hand is usually our most powerful or useful hand and it is an expression used by Moses in his song of praise in Exodus 15 which celebrated a wonderful example of God’s powerful hand opening up a sea for his people to cross and then closing the sea to destroy the Egyptian army bent on killing God’s people, the Israelite.

We have this reference to God’s right hand in Moses song of praise in Exodus 15: 6,

Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy”.

The Jews who lived through the return from captivity in Babylon also had seen the results of God’s goodness through his right hand or powerful act of salvation when he used the Persians to both destroy the Babylonians and then make it possible for his people in captivity to not only return to Israel there promised land but allow them to rebuild their Temple and city walls.

We to benefit from the goodness of God as a results of his powerful right hand in Jesus saving us from the bondage of sin and then going back to God after he rose from the dead to sit at God’s right hand as the writer to the Hebrews says about Jesus in Hebrews 1: 3,

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

So we too should thank God with shouts of joy because we too benefit from the goodness of God seen in the deeds of God’s right hand in and through The Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s goodness seen in saving his people from death (17 – 18)

The writer in the next two verses speaks of God’s goodness seen in how he saved his people from death or ethnic annihilation in verses 17 – 18 which, speaking in the first person plural says,

“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”.

It amazes me, a amateur student of history and the bible that the tiny nation of Israel has existed for so long. So many much more powerful and larger nations have been destroyed and have disappeared from the face of the earth yet Israel or the Jews still exist today and this I believe is no fluke or lucky turn of events in the history of the world.

When the Northern Kingdom called Israel was defeated by the Assyrians they ceased to exist as they were either killed or dispersed so widely they lost their identity as a nation but when the southern kingdom known as Judah were conquered by the Babylonians and if not killed they were taken as a national group into exile in Babylon and then seventy years later freed to return to Israel or Judah when the Persians defeated the Babylonians.

This scenario fits the words of verse 17 when it says,

“I will not die but live”

If in fact this is a poetic way of the writer speaking about the his nation of Judah (now whats left of Israel) rather than just himself. Of course if he lived himself through the release from captivity in Babylon then it is literal but also being part of the Jews God saved from physical and national death through the right hand of God.

What he says next he is now doing namely proclaiming,

“What the Lord has done”

I mentioned earlier that Martin Luther loved this Psalm and called it “his own” Nancy Koestar speaks about Martin Luther’s love of this Psalm and says this about it,

“While Martin Luther was hiding in the Coburg Castle during 1530, he wrote (among other things) an extensive commentary on Psalm 118. On the wall of the room where he worked was written his personal motto: ‘I shall not die, but live, and recount the deeds of the Lord, Psalm 118: 17.”.

Against incredible overwhelming odds Martin Luther did not die at the hands of his powerful enemies but lived on to minster for many years establishing the great reformation that changed the world.

While God has a purpose for us in this life we will live but once he sees his purposes for our lives complete then and only then he will take us to himself through our certain future deaths and this kind of confidence that the writer of Psalm 118 and Martin Luther had was also the same confidence Paul had when he wrote in Philippians 1: 23 – 24,

“I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body”.

Then in verse 18 we have a verse that gives strong evidence that the writer has been speaking about the Babylonian captivity because it says,

“The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death”.

The Lord of course chastised the whole nation of Israel for their many sins by using the Babylonians to conquer them and take them into cruel captivity in Babylon just as prophets like Jeremiah had both warned them about and of course predicted as we read in Jeremiah 1: 14 – 16,

“The Lord said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. 15 I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the Lord. “Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. 16 I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made”.

So Judah was overrun by the disaster from the North, namely Babylon and God used that to chasten or discipline his people but verse 18 goes on to say that,

“But he has not given me over to death”.

Even though many lost their lives to the Babylonian many others and indeed the nation lived and did not die but were taken into captivity in Babylon and Jeremiah knew this also and told the exiles in Babylon through a letter recorded in Jeremiah 29 that this captivity would only last 70 years and then God would free his people and bring them home to Israel, Jeremiah 29: 10 – 14,

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

The writer to the Hebrews says this about how and why God still disciplines even us today in Hebrews 12: 7 – 11,

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”.

God’s goodness realised as his people enter his presence (19 – 21)

From verse 19 on the concept of this being a Psalm that was sung or said in a procession to the Temple where worship would take place becomes clearer as in verses 19 and 20 we read,

“Open for me the gates of the righteous: I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter”.

Gordon Churchyard gives an explanation of these two verses with these words,

“The Jews sang Psalm 118 in a special way. The priests said some verses, then the people coming in to the temple answers them with other verses”.

“The people coming in (to the Temple) said, ‘Open the gates’ (vs. 19). The priests answer from inside the temple gates, ‘Righteous people can go in”.

Churchyard goes on to say no one is righteous and of course we learnt earlier that only God is righteous but he explains what being righteous here means,

“These are the people that love him. They are the people who trust and obey his covenant”.

The New Testament like Romans 6: 23a says,

“For the wages of sin is death”.

Which means because of sin we cannot enter heaven when we die but God knows that we are sinful or unrighteous so he has to give us life in heaven or eternal life as a gift so the second half of Romans 6: 23 says,

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Psalm 118 verse 21 says,

“I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation”.

The Jews in captivity did not deserve God’s act of salvation from Babylon just as we do not deserve to be saved by Jesus death on the cross so we can enter heaven when we die yet God is good and his love endures forever so he did save his people out of Babylon and he does save us from sin so we can enter heaven.

Our right response to this is of course to have faith in what God has done and show that like this Psalmist does with,

“Thanks”

As Paul encourages the church in his letter to the Colossians chapter 3: 15 – 17

“5 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

3. (22 – 29) GOD IS GOOD SO HE DESERVES OUR WORSHIP AND PRAISE

1. (22 – 25) God is good so remember what he’s done for us and rejoice

We come then to the third and final section of this Psalm which I have been opening up as a ancient song or hymn sung by a procession of Jewish worshippers on their way into the Temple where different types of people say or sing different parts in response often to other people’s parts. This last section suggests in verse 27 that originally this was used on the feast of the Tabernacles but we know that it became a Psalm used as part of the Passover celebrations and is in fact the last of six Egyptian Hallelu Psalms used at the time of the passover.

The first of three parts of this last section is a very controversial part as it us quoted extensively in the New Testament even by Jesus himself. I will aim to open it up first in the context of Psalm 118 and then look at what it has to say in the context of Jesus as the promised Messiah who was rejected in his day by the Jewish leaders and most of the ordinary people which led to his death on the cross.

The first verse in this first part is verse 22 and it says,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”.

Gordon Chuchyard speaks of a Jewish legend about the building of the temple in Jerusalem, he writes,

“They cut big stones to build the temple. One stone was the wrong shape and size. They threw it away. Then they needed one that shape and size. They needed it to fix two walls together. So, they found the stone that they threw away. They put it in an important place at the top of the two walls”.

Even if this is not what actually happened when the Jews rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem when they returned from captivity in Babylon it does tell us what this verse originally was trying to say. If this is talking about the nation of Israel then to the world it was like a stone the builders rejected in a great building project we might call humanity as Israel was not only small but insignificant and was cast off into captivity by the Babylonians.

Then this seemingly cast off little nation is helped by the God of heaven and earth to be delivered and given a special place in humanity as God’s special people.

So verse 23 says,

“The Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes”.

The Jews seemed dead and gone after the Babylonians conquered them but God did a marvellous act of salvation for this so called tiny insignificant nation and now they are back in the Promised Land with a new rebuilt temple and city walls and they can see what the Lord has done.

They might say as the Psalm says, God is good as his love endures forever.

Finally we have the famous verse everyone has probably sung or said many times, verse 24,

“The Lord has done it this very day, let us rejoice and be glad”.

The version most people know and sing is the King James version,

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it”.

When this Psalm was first sung probably after they had returned from captivity in Babylon and probably on the day the walls of Jerusalem were competed and celebrated these words would have meant a lot. God had done a wonderful good and loving deed of salvation brining the people out of the bondage of captivity in Babylon just as one day many years before he had done the good and loving deed of saving the people out of slavery in Egypt.

Now and for evermore this is the day, the day of salvation we should rejoice and be glad in.

Now what did Jesus mean when he quoted verse 22 about the stone that the builder rejected becoming the cornerstone?

Jesus quotes this verse in the Gospels as his conclusion to the parable of vineyard where he likens Jews of his day to farmers who rented a field but when the vineyard owner sent servants to collect the fruits of the harvest he deserved the farmers who rented the vineyard beat up the servants who came to collect the owners dues.

So the farmer sent more servants to find that they too were beaten up by the vineyard tenants. Lastly the farmer sent his son and they simply rejected him and killed him. So the farmer finally came and threw the tenants out of the vineyard.

Jesus then quotes from Psalm 118 verse 22 – 23 and this is what he says with this verse in Matthew 21: 41 – 44,

“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes’ 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Then in 1 Peter 2: 7, Peter quotes verse 22 to argue that Jesus is the stone that the builders, here the Jews rejected and he who they rejected has become God’s cornerstone of the church, the New Israel of God made up of Jews and non – jews or people from all nations and tribes.

God is good and his love endures forever and we should be glad and rejoice now every day in that wonderful fact of God’s amazing love seen in our salvation.

The last verse of this first part of the final section simply reads,

“Lord, save us! Lord grant us success”

I cannot add any more to Albert Barnes explanation of this verse so I offer it to you as a compressive explanation of it,

“Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord … – The word save here seems to be used in the general sense of imploring the divine interposition and mercy. It is a part of the word which in the New Testament is rendered “Hosanna” – save now Matthew 21:9 – and is the language which the multitudes employed when they followed the Saviour as he went from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem. The language which they used on that occasion was borrowed from this psalm, and was eminently appropriate to the occasion – “Hosanna – blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord;” but the fact that it was thus employed does not prove that the psalm had original reference to the Messiah. The language was not improbably used on high festivals, and would be naturally employed when the Messiah came”.

2. (26 – 28) God is good so come before him in worship

So the procession has now entered through the gates of the Temple by faith in the Lord of goodness and love and so now the writer of Psalm 118 calls on the members of the procession to worship the Lord starting with the statement about how God blesses those who worship him verse 26,

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you”.

Many commentators point out how the first part of this verse,

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.

Is what the people say as they enter the Temple for worship snd the second part.

“From the house of the Lord we bless you”.

Would have been said by the priests who the Old Testament says have the job of pronouncing God’s Blessings on his people as the next verse suggests that probably something of Numbers 6: 22 – 27 (often called Aaron’s blessing) has been lifted for these verses,

 “The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them““The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

For the first part of verse 27 reads like this,

“The Lord is God, and he made his light shine on us”.

The concept of verse 25 being the Hebrew word “Hosanna” or “save us” and the opening words of verse 26,

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.

Is found in Mark 11: 9 (also in Matthew 21: 9 and John 12: 13) and spoken by the crowd as Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem and fits beautifully the idea of the Messiah entering Jerusalem in triumph even though the original words are not Messianic they rightfully declare Jesus as the Messiah especially in the words that follow in Mark 11: 10,

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David”

Albert Barnes makes it clear that with these words the idea the crowd had in mind when they quoted Psalm 118: 26 about coming in the name of the Lord they were referring to the Messiah with these words,

“Coming in the name” of the Lord here evidently means coming according to the “promise” of the Lord. The sense may be thus expressed: “Prosperity to the reign of our father David, advancing now according to the promise made to him, and about to be established by the long predicted Messiah, his descendant.”

Jesus of course one week later faces another crowd who now cry out, “Crucify him” encouraged to do so by the Jewish leaders who were there and so we see the fickle nature of crowds but Jesus came or rode into Jerusalem to be crucified to win for us our salvation and so do what the middle section of verse 27 says,

“Has made his light shine on us”.

The darkness of the cross is the light of God in that through Jesus suffering comes forgiveness, life and hope as Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 1: 9 – 10,

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”.

Then in the last part of verse 27 we have the words that point to this procession in the Temple being one maybe first conducted on the Festival of Tabernacle or as it is also called “Feast of Booths” with the mention of the procession participants holding “boughs” in their hands,

“With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar”.

We have to always keep in mind that Old Testament worship involved the offering of sacrifices on the altar in the Temple so it is not strange for us to here that once this procession of worship has entered the Temple area proper that we have a reference to an altar and we know from Old Testament passages like Exodus 27: 1 – 8 that the altar referred to here is the one in the Temple with a horn on each of its corners.

Paul makes it clear in Romans 12: 1 that New Testament worship no longer involves animal sacrifice because of the mercy of God expressed through the perfect sacrifice of God’s Son Jesus Christ on the cross but now we are to offer ourselves in sacrificial service and this is now the acceptable worship God desires,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”.

Finally verse 28 becomes a clear statement that God is good so therefore we must worship him,

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

The wording style reverts back to first person singular but I have been advocating all through this Psalm talk that all the words of this Psalm was spoken or sung by groups of different worshippers like the general Israelite worshippers, priests and maybe even God fearing non – Jews worshippers who I believe were referred to in verse 4.

This verse 28 reads like something said by one group in the first part and then responded to by another group with the words of the second part.

Allan Harman simply says that,

“Trusting in him inevitably leads to praise and adoration”.

Paul’s prayer for his Roman believers says it all, Romans 15: 13,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

That overflow of hope and power in the Holy Spirit should outwardly show itself in praise.

3. (vs. 29) God is good because of his love endures forever

The Psalm finishes with the words it started with,

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever”.

Our God is a good and loving God not like the God of other religions who is either vague like the God’s of Hinduism or nasty and vengeful like the God of Islam. He is the God who we learnt in the previous Psalm, Psalm 117 loves the world so much he sent his only son Jesus Christ into the world to die for our sins on the cross that whoever believes in him will not perish but receive eternal life (John 3: 16).

This great and good God wants us to thank or praise him and if you have something done extraordinary for you you will naturally want to thank him and tell others what he or she did for you. Well God sent his Son to die for you so that through faith in he gives you the gift of eternal life.

Isn’t that something to thank him for and tell others about?

God loves you and I hope you now know why this is so true from what we have learnt in this Psalm talk for Psalm 118.

The words for my new song express what this Psalm has taught me about the Goodness and love of God and my concluding prayer is my offering of praise for the truth that God is good because his love endures forever.

GOD IS GOOD
(Based on Psalm 118 verses 1 – 9 and 27 – 29)

Chorus:
God is good for God is love
For sent his Son from heaven above
God is good for God is love
And one day he will raise us to heaven above.

1. So I’ll thank the Lord each day
For his goodness to me.
For his love endures evermore
So praise him and you’ll be free.

Chorus:
God is good for God is love
For sent his Son from heaven above
God is good for God is love
And one day he will raise us to heaven above.

2. So when I felt so hard pressed
I cried unto the Lord
And he bought me into a spacious place
And restored me with his word.

Chorus:
God is good for God is love
For sent his Son from heaven above
God is good for God is love
And one day he will raise us to heaven above.

3. So the Lord is always with me
To help me when life gets rough
He is my refuge I trust in him
No other helper is good enough.

Chorus,
God is good for God is love
For sent his Son from heaven above
God is good for God is love
And one day he will raise us to heaven above.

4. For the Lord he is God
For his light has shone on us
So we will praise him now and exalt his name
For in his goodness we can trust.

Chorus:
God is good for God is love
For sent his Son from heaven above
God is good for God is love
And one day he will raise us to heaven above.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

I thank you Father in heaven above that you are so good because of your love for me which I see in the death of your Son on the cross for me. I praise you for your love and continued help in my life. I praise you Jesus for always being there with me helping me through the trials and difficulties of life. I thank you Holy Spirit for your word and your work in my life changing me day by day to be more like Jesus. Help me Lord to live my life in service to you as a result of your goodness and love which I know from your word is what you desire as acceptable worship. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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