Daily Family Worship

Psalm 118: The Cornerstone Song

by | Jun 21, 2024

psalm 118

This is yet another Psalm of thanksgiving. It opens with the words, “O give thanks unto the Lord!” But while the Psalmist is giving thanks, he also utters forth an inspired prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus Christ – Who, by His sufferings, entered into glory. He Himself quotes this Psalm and teaches us (Matt. 21:42) that He is that Stone (verse 22) which was rejected by the builders, and yet became the Head Cornerstone.

This Psalm concludes that Passover-hymn which Christ and His disciples sang together before going forth to the Mount of Olives. Nothing could be more appropriate or better fitted to provide comfort and encouragement during that awful period, than a prophecy which overleaped the suffering that was to be endured, and showed forth the glory that was afterward to follow. It words were partially fulfilled in the days of Messiah’s humiliation, when He was received with triumph and acclamation into Jerusalem; and we may conclude that they will be fully enacted when our glorified and triumphant Lord – coming with ten thousands of His saints – will return and receive the promised salutation: “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of Jehovah!”

The Conquering King and His attendants were depicted in the last Psalm as singing an introductory hymn, inviting all people – Jews and Gentiles – to share in the merciful kindness of God, and to sing His praises. It was a gathering together of all the Lord’s people to be witnesses and partakers of His glory. But the first three verses of this song are sung by individual voices. As the King and His glorious procession of followers moves along, the theme of rejoicing is announced. The first voice repeats, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good, because his mercy endureth for ever!” Another single voice calls on Israel to acknowledge this great truth; and a third invites the house of Aaron, the priesthood, to acknowledge their share in Jehovah’s love. Verse 4 is a chorus, wherein the whole procession – both the living and also the dead who are raised to meet Christ (1 Thess. 4:16) – shout aloud the theme of the song. Then Christ the Conqueror alone sings (verses 5-7). He begins by recounting the circumstances of His distress, but He also tells of His refuge: “I betook me to God, I told him my sorrows, and he heard me.” Next, the procession joins in another chorus (verses 8-9) – taking up the substance of Messiah’s chant, and fully echoing the sentiment: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes!” Verses 10-14 again show the Conqueror enlarging upon the magnitude of His dangers, and the hopelessness of His situation. But the procession (verses 15-16) attributes their Lord’s great deliverance to His righteous Person, and to His righteous cause. Justice and equity and truth all demanded that Messiah should not be trodden down! It was His own right hand and arm that won for Him the victory.

In verses 17 and 18, Messiah now takes up the language of a Conqueror: “My sufferings were sore,” says He; “but they were only for a season. I laid down my life, and I now take it up again.” And then, with a loud voice – as when He roused Lazarus out of the grave – He cries to those within the walls, “Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord!” The priests and Levites inside instantly obey His command; and while they throw open the gates, they sing, “This is the gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.” As He enters, He repeats the words of verse 21: “I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation!” The grand purpose for which He lived and died is now fulfilled, and so He praises God.

The priests and Levites sing in chorus, in verses 22-24. They sing of “the stone which the builders refused,” which has now “become the headstone of the corner.” The Conqueror is now within the gates, and He proceeds to pray for His people: “Hosannah, save thy people, O Lord, and send them now prosperity!” (verse 25) And now, at length, the veil is removed from the eyes of His people; and they say, “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord!” (verse 26) The Conqueror alone (verse 28) makes a solemn acknowledgment of gratitude and praise to Jehovah; and then, with the whole triumphant procession inside the gates, they conclude in the same way as that in which they commenced: “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever!” (verse 29)

Lord Jesus, we praise You as the Stone which was rejected but is now the Cornerstone – upon which, our souls may rest for strength and help and prosperity! Amen.

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