Psalm 118 — God gives us the Light — Reading the Psalms


1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
For 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 Out of my distress I called upon the LORD:
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 is on my side among 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:
In the name of the LORD I will cut them off.
11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about:
In the name of the LORD I will cut them off.
12 They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns:
In the name of the LORD I will cut them off.
13 Thou didst thrust sore at me that I might fall:
But the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and song;
And he is become my salvation.
15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents 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 enter into them, I will give thanks unto the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD;
The righteous shall enter into it.
21 I will give thanks unto thee, for thou hast answered me,
And art become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders rejected
Is become the head of the corner.
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day which the LORD hath made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save now, we beseech thee, O LORD:
O LORD, we 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 The LORD is God, and he hath given us light:
Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
28 Thou art my God, and I will give thanks unto 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.

Full with a flurry of activity and bursting praise, psalm 118 is a wonderful work of art in praise of the Lord. That God condescends to speak with us is amazing in itself. Should we be surprised when his words are wonderful?

The excited drive one feels in this psalm is infectious. It pulls us along with its pulse and repetitive lines: “His mercy endureth forever”, “It is better to trust in the Lord”, “In the name of the Lord I will cut them off”. We leave our soft seats of reading to stand in the great congregation with Israel: we, too, praise God for his everlasting mercy, his faithful love.

We praise this faithful love because, in our own lives as in the stories of the Bible, God faithfully delivers us in loving mercy. Like bees swarming around us, our enemies come. Yet, in God, we cast and cut them off. They try to thrust us sore and make us fall, but the Lord helped. Thus, we sing this psalm in grateful praise.

Yet, the enemy outside is not our sole dilemma: “The Lord hath chastened me sore”, too. Not just our enemies, but our sins lead God to make us feel sore. OUr sins and selfish hearts make enemies of us all! Thank God, then, that through chastened by him, “He hath not given me over unto death”.

Thus, saved by God from evils without and within, we respond with this psalm’s glorious praise. And to whom do we express this praise? Why to his son, revealed in the very words of this psalm. The son of God who enters by the gate of the Lord, giving a righteous entry for all. God’s son, the stone rejected by so many but made, by God, to be the chief corner and our salvation. This great work of God, marvelous to our eyes, brough the people of Jerusalem to cry out to one riding on a donkey, “Hosanna”, “Save, now, we pray”, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.

Take the time to read this psalm – not just once, or on one day – over and over again. Let its beauty affect and change you. Use it in your praise of God. “O Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth forever.”


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