Psalm 118

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 14, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Are you ready for some Bible trivia? The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117 with just 2 verses, and the longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119 with 176 verses. Psalm 118, which we’re looking at today, is the chapter that most consider to be the exact center of the Bible (though there is some dispute on that depending on which version you’re using).

Again depending on your Bible version, if you count verses, the exact center verse of the Bible falls in this psalm as well, Psalm 118:8. It says, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.” What a great truth to keep at the center of not only our Bibles but our lives!

But this psalm isn’t just a placekeeper for some nifty Biblical trivia. It is also one of thanksgiving and praise to God for His eternal love, which is way more significant than simply its place in this great book. It is the last in the collection of Egyptian Hallel psalms, the ones used in the Passover celebration, praising God for His deliverance of Israel from Egypt.

The psalm starts out in verse 1 with a familiar refrain: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” We’ve seen this wording or variations of it a few times throughout the psalms. The word “good” here is the same one that God uses to describe Creation multiple times in Genesis 1. The word translated as “love” is a Hebrew word that we really don’t have a good English translation for. It means a combination of mercy, kindness, and love all wrapped up into one. This same word and phrasing are repeated in verses 2-4 for emphasis and so that everyone knows and agrees that God’s perfect love will endure forever!

Because of this belief that God’s love will endure forever, we see what that means in the following verses. In verse 5, we see that God has delivered the psalmist. In verses 6-7, we see the psalmist’s conviction that God is always with him and because of that, he doesn’t need to worry about anything, even his enemies. In verses 8-9, we see the psalmist’s confidence in God over mankind.

In verses 10-12, the psalmist explains how bad things were with his enemies so that his praise of God is even more significant. He emphasizes that “in the name of the Lord” he was able to defeat his enemies. It was only through God’s power that he persevered, which is why he returns to thanksgiving to God in verses 13-14. Verse 14 is another key verse that we can remember for our lives: “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” We only have strength in our lives because of God, and He is the one to truly defend us from any enemies we may face. God is the only one who can truly save us.

The works the Lord has done are great causing for rejoicing, as we see in verses 15-16. We see the repetition of the phrase, “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things,” which again is for emphasis and to drive that point home to the people reciting this psalm.

In verses 17-18, the psalm changes from one of more communal praise and thanksgiving to focus on the individual. After all, a community of people cannot be praising God if the individuals who make up that community are not focused on that praise. We see the psalmist emphasizing that although bad things may happen in his life, God has continued to let him live so that he can proclaim the good that God is doing.

Verses 19-21 show us that a person must be righteous to be in God’s presence, and the symbolism of entering through a gate is used. The psalmist is considered righteous because of his trust in God and His deliverance, but we know that today we can be considered righteous because of our faith in God and what He has done through Jesus to bring us true salvation from the enemy of sin and death, not just deliverance in a battle from earthly enemies. Our focus is not on doing good things but on living out the faith that we have in Jesus’ saving work, which results in actions that praise God.

Verse 22 says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” This verse shows us that just because some people reject what we’re doing or who we are, God can still use us for great things (verses 23-24). When building a stone building, there needs to be a cornerstone, a foundational piece where the stone walls begin. In modern times, the cornerstone is more of a symbolic thing, but back then it was an essential piece of the building’s foundation. The builders may reject a certain stone for use in a wall because it doesn’t fit what they need it for, but God can use that for His glory and even make it a foundational piece. Think about that in your own life; have you ever been rejected from something, and then God has turned that situation around and used it in an amazing way?

In verse 25, the people ask God to continue the mighty works that He has already done. In verse 26, the people are assured that they will be blessed if they truly approach God in His name and for the right reasons. The people respond to this blessing in verse 27 with continued praise of God.

Verses 28-29 conclude the psalm with praise of God, including repetition of verse 1: “You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

What can we learn from this psalm for our lives today? Our confidence should be in God rather than in our fellow humans because God is the one who delivers us. He will use us for His purposes when we follow Him with our lives and approach Him with the praise that He is due. He may discipline us as needed while on this earth, but His love for us truly does endure forever. He is the only one who is truly good, and He is the one who always deserves our praise!

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