A devotional on Psalm 118
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; because his mercy endures forever!
Give thanks – yadah – to the Lord. That means throw, shoot, or cast the hand out as to launch a weapon; worship with extended hands; give thanks and praise; to confess sin. Yad is a hand and, figuratively, means strength, direction, and power. We do this for he is good – tob – meaning pleasant, kind, appropriate, excellent, valuable, beautiful, precious, and sweet. And why is he all that? Because his mercy – chesed – goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and beauty endures forever – olam olam. If he was all that for a year, he’d be good enough, I suppose, but his chesed endures a long time. A long, long time.
2 Let Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His mercy endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say, “His mercy endures forever.”
You, beloved, fall into those three factions as we studied three devotionals ago and again yesterday. It is the blessed triad: You are the chosen of God; you are the royal priesthood; you are the wise who fear the Lord. Thrust those hands and say loudly “His mercy endures forever.” Tell that to your circumstances. Tell that to your aching body. Tell that to your difficult relationship. Tell that to your bank account. Tell that to the desire of your heart. Make it your mantra today.
5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place.
Are you in a squeeze? Are you in a narrow place? Are you constrained? Are you bound? Call on your God. You call, he answers. You call, he answers. You call, he answers. “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:16-19
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
KJV The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
I hope you are feeling confidently cocky right about now. The shielding that you have is supreme. The back-up you have is imperial. Your posse is frightful. Look who is on your side. Look who supports you, cheers you, empowers you. Look who cares for you, loves you, adores you. And all that, olam olam. Do not be afraid for I AM with you. Do not be dismayed for I AM your God. I will help you; I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Halal Jah!
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
It is better, my friends. The arm of flesh will fail you. “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” 2 Chronicles 32:8. “This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes the flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD. He will be like a shrub in the desert; he will not see when prosperity comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.…” Jeremiah 17:5, 6.
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all will perish together,” Isaiah 31:1, 3.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord, my friends.
10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
15 Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
16 the right hand of the Lord exalts, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”
17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. They cried for help, but there was no one to save them— to the Lord, but he did not answer. I beat them as fine as windblown dust; I trampled them like mud in the streets,” Ps. 18:32-42.
Call upon the name of the Lord, and be saved!
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Consider again that this is the final hymn that Jesus sang after dinner on the night of his betrayal. They sang psalms 115-118 for the Passover. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep… I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:7-10 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Mt. 7:13, 14.
25 Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!
Hosannah in the highest, the crowd had sung as he entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. He knew full well he was to be the sacrificial lamb that Passover. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Jn 8:12. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” they hailed and lauded as they spread their robes for the donkey to tread on, welcoming their king. But in no time, they would bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,” John 1:29.
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.
29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!