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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Psalms 118

Verses 1-29

Psalms 118:1-29

As we get into Psalms 118:1-29 , the last of the Hallel psalms.

O give thanks unto the LORD ( Psalms 118:1 );

Again, the exhortation, praise and thanks, "O give thanks unto the Lord."

for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever ( Psalms 118:1 ).

Again, the cause of thanksgiving is the goodness of God and the mercy of God. How often in the psalms we are called upon to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His mercy.

Let Israel now say, his mercy endureth for ever. Let the house of Aaron now say, let his mercy endureth for ever. Let them now that fear the LORD say, his mercy endureth for ever. Now I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what man can do unto me? ( Psalms 118:2-6 )

Paul the apostle, in Romans the eighth chapter, takes up much the same thing as he declares, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who has justified. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who has died, yea rather, is risen again, and he's even at the right hand of the Father, making intercession" ( Romans 8:33-34 ). Paul exclaims, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" ( Romans 8:31 )

Now growing up as a child and growing up in church, somehow I did not always receive the concept that God was for me. I felt that God was against me many times. That He was just sort of waiting for me to make a mistake so He could punish me. That He was ready to cancel me out of the kingdom. In fact, I felt that I was cancelled out of the kingdom all the time. And I could hardly wait for Sunday night to come around so I could go forward and get saved again and get back into the kingdom, because I really wanted to be a Christian. I really didn't want to go to hell. And in my heart I really loved the Lord and my spirit indeed was willing to serve the Lord, but my flesh was weak. And somehow a concept developed in my mind that God was against me.

Oh, what Romans 8:1-39 did for my own personal Christian experience is hard to describe. When I discovered that God wasn't against me but that God was for me. And that God wasn't laying anything to my charge. God wasn't charging my account with all of my failures and all of my weaknesses and failings. That God had stamped irrevocably on my account, "Justified!" He wasn't finding fault, nor was Jesus Christ condemning me. Far be it from condemning me, He was interceding for me.

Now if I were good and perfect, He wouldn't have to intercede. I could stand before God in my own perfection. And I could say, "Here I am, Lord, perfect little me." The fact that He is interceding takes into account my weaknesses and my failures. The necessity for intercession. "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who has died, yea, rather, is risen again and even at the right hand of the Father making intercession. What shall we say to these things? Oh, if God be for us, who can be against us?"

So here the psalmist, "The Lord is on my side." How comforting that is. How reassuring that is. God is for me. God is for my part. God is on my side. Therefore, I will not fear what man shall do.

Now, man condemns me. Man finds fault with me. I often find fault with myself and condemn myself. But I need not fear what man will do because the Lord is on my side.

The LORD taketh the part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me ( Psalms 118:7 ).

In other words, God is for me. He takes the part with those that help me. He becomes a part of those that are helping me. And therefore, we shall surely have victory over the enemy.

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man ( Psalms 118:8 ).

Now as I read that, I immediately, in my heart that strikes a responsive kind of an accord. I say, "Yeah, that's sure true." Man has let me down so many times. The Lord has never let me down. Yes, that's so true. It's better to put my trust in the Lord than my confidence in man. And yet when I'm in trouble, I'm always looking for the help of man, the arm of flesh. And yet I realize that it's better to put my trust in the Lord than my confidence in man. How many times have I been discouraged and defeated though I had the promises of God. And then some man comes along, he says, "Oh, I'll take care of that for you." Oh, all right, praise the Lord. Glory to God! You know, it's all taken care of." And I've put my confidence now in the word of some man that he's going to take care of it.

There are certain people who have a penchant for making great promises that they are really not capable of fulfilling. Now there are some who are just pathological liars and they'll make all kinds of promises and they, you know, they didn't even know they made the promise. I mean, it's just quirk of their own nature. But there are other people who have sort of a quirk that they do make promises that when they make them, they really intend to fulfill them. But they just don't have the capacity to fulfill them. We've all met these kind of people, too. And it's amazing how many people and how many times we put our confidence in man and have been let down.

Better to put your trust in the LORD than your confidence in princes. Now all nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I'll destroy them ( Psalms 118:9-10 ).

And then he just sort of amplifies on that.

They compassed me about; yes, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. They compassed me about like bees ( Psalms 118:11-12 );

Swarm of bees.

they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation ( Psalms 118:12-14 ).

I love that verse. "The LORD is my strength." I've learned to rely upon His strength. It doesn't say the Lord will give me strength. It says, "The Lord is my strength." He's my song. How many times I find myself whistling or humming, or even singing when I'm not even aware of it. And when I become aware of it, I realize it's a song of worship or praise unto the Lord. And it's just thrilling to realize that it's just so woven into the warp and the woof of my own being that it's just a part of even the subconscious of my own life. The Lord is my song. "I have no song to sing but that of Christ my King. To Him my praise I'll bring forevermore. I have no other... " Let's see. "I have no delight in other songs, my melody of love to Him belongs." And how glorious when we sing our praises unto Him. He's become my salvation.

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous ( Psalms 118:15 ):

Or in the tents of the righteous. So, you don't live in tents anymore. So, in the houses of the righteous.

There should be the voice of rejoicing in your home. I think that music has a tremendous influence and part in our lives. And I do feel that it is important that we surround ourselves in a spiritual environment. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. If you sow to the flesh, you're going to reap of the flesh; if you sow to the Spirit, you'll reap of the Spirit" ( Galatians 6:7-8 ). I think that it's valuable to have good music around the house. If you have a record player, I think that you should have the praise albums and just good, Christ-centered music. Keep it in the atmosphere of your home, because it's planting into your spirit constantly. And what you sow, you're going to reap. If you're constantly listening to, "My baby left me, and is gone," and all this kind of stuff of the flesh, then you're going to be reaping that kind of stuff. But if we're sowing to the Spirit, it just has, it's just planting it into our hearts and into our lives. It's important that we do it.

The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly ( Psalms 118:16 ).

The right hand of the Lord...

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death ( Psalms 118:17-18 ).

We are told in the scriptures we're "not to despise the chastening of the Lord, for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" ( Proverbs 3:11-12 ). Now there is a vast difference between correction and punishment. God has ordained punishment upon the wicked, but He has ordained correction for His children. The correction comes in the form of chastisement. "It was good for me that I was afflicted" ( Psalms 119:71 ), we'll read in the next Psalms 119:1-176. Good that God corrected me. It's a sign that I am His child. It's a sign that He does care about me. The chastening of the Lord. It is not penal. It is for the purpose of correction.

Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation ( Psalms 118:19-21 ).

Now I do not know but what the prophetic part of this psalm may begin with the nineteenth verse, "Open to me the gates of righteousness. I will go into them, and will praise the Lord." For there is in scripture other prophecies that relate to the east gate and the entering in of the Lord into the east gate. When Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, He no doubt entered from the east gate, because He came down from the descent of the Mount of Olives and went into the temple precincts. And the gate that went from the Mount of Olives to the temple mount was the east gate. It was the one that entered right into the temple mount. So no doubt the gate through which Jesus entered when He went in on this triumphant entry. And in the forty-third chapter of Ezekiel, he said, "I was taken by the Spirit to the gate that is toward the east and it was shut. No people were going in or out by it." For the Lord, He went in and out by this gate and therefore it is shut and actually it won't be open until the Messiah comes again, and He will enter in through the east gate and He will eat bread with His people there in the porch of that gate.

So the reference here to the gate could be the reference to the triumphant entry by which He came in to the temple mount through the east gate. There is another Psalm, twenty-seven, about the opening of the gates and the King of glory shall come in. "Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle" ( Psalms 24:8 ). And the psalm of opening the gates in Psalms 27:1-14 which, again, seems to be sort of a prophetic. It's not twenty-seven either, but seems to be a prophetic type of a psalm. I'll take just a moment and see if I can find which psalm that is for you-twenty-four? Yes, it surely is.

"Lift up your head, O ye gates, and be ye lifted, ye everlasting doors. The King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty. The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates. Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors. The King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory." So the gate of the Lord into which the righteous shall enter, no doubt a reference to the east gate.

Now when we come again with Jesus Christ in His coming in power and glory, according to the scripture He will set His foot on that day on the Mount of Olives. And the Mount of Olives will split with a big valley that will be formed by the splitting of the Mount of Olives. And Jesus will come on in through the east gate into the city or into the city of Jerusalem, the old city of Jerusalem, the temple mount. And we will be coming with Him when He comes. So the gate will be open and the righteous shall enter in. So inasmuch as we go then into,

The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner ( Psalms 118:22 ).

This is, of course, a prophecy of the rejection of Jesus Christ by Israel, the builders; the stone that was refused by the builders. Christ came according to the promise of God to the nation Israel to be the Messiah, not to be the Messiah, as the Messiah. And they refused Him. But the same has become the head of the corner, or the chief cornerstone. The chief cornerstone now upon which the church is built. "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" ( Matthew 16:18 ).

This scripture is referred to in the New Testament. It is referred to by Jesus Himself the day after He was rejected by the rulers. In Matthew 21:1-46 Jesus spake to them a parable about the householder who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, build a winepress or pit for the winepress in it. Turned it over to the servants as he went to a far country. And how that when he sought to gather the fruit, sent servants back to receive the fruit, how that they beat some, how they mistreated others, how they killed some. And finally, he said, "I will send my only son. Surely they will respect him." But when they saw his son, they said, "Oh, here's the heir. Let's kill him and then the vineyard will be ours." And Jesus said, "What will that lord do when he comes?" And the Pharisees answered, He will utterly destroy those wretches. And Jesus said, "That is true. Have you never read, 'The stone which was set at nought by the builders, the same has become the headstone of the corner or the chief cornerstone.'" And He said, "Whosoever falls upon this stone will be broken, but upon whomsoever this stone shall fall shall be crushed into powder."

So Jesus made reference to this psalm, making the application to Himself; making the application to the rejection of Him by the Jewish leaders. And yet the vineyard, He said, He will take away. He'll destroy these people, set them aside and He will give the vineyard unto others. And so to nations, He said, who will bring forth fruit. So the glorious Gospel and the church coming from actually among the Gentile nations. The Lord has created the church for the purpose that we might bring forth fruit unto Him.

So then Peter makes reference to it in the fourth chapter of the book of Acts when he was called before the council for the healing of the lame man and asked by what name he did it, he said, "By the name of Jesus does this man stand here before you whole. And He is the stone which was set of nought by you builders. But the same has become the chief cornerstone. Neither is there salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." And then Peter in his first epistle, chapter 2 makes the final reference to this stone that was set of nought by the builders.

Now there is an interesting story that is told of the building of Solomon's temple. It is declared that all of the stones for Solomon's temple were cut and quarried and carved away from the temple site. But each stone was perfectly hewn out and marked for the place in which it went into the wall. Now Solomon's quarries were up on the sort of northwest side of the city of Jerusalem near what is presently the Herod's Gate. And you can go into those quarries today and see where these stones, these massive stones were cut out for Solomon's temple. Also you can see the quarry, the area of the quarry for the temple that is now an Arab bus station and you can see where the stone was quarried out there.

Now according to the story, a stone was sent for the temple that was not marked and the builders didn't have any idea where it went. They concluded that it was just sent by mistake from the quarry. You see, the temple was put together without the sound of a hammer or a trowel. Every stone was cut away from the site and brought. And each stone just was fit in perfectly without even mortar. Just interlocking stones without the use of mortar. And so this one stone, they didn't know where it went; it didn't seem to fall in the sequence of their building. They cast it aside in the bushes and a few years later as they were completing the temple, they sent the message to the quarry, "We're all set for dedication. Where is the chief cornerstone?" And they sent back the message, "We've already sent it a long time ago. What did you do with it?" And the messages went back and forth from the quarry to the builders and finally, someone found over in the bushes, overgrown with shrubs the chief cornerstone which had been rejected by the builders but now was brought out and put in its place, the chief cornerstone of the building. That's the story that is told of the building of Solomon's temple. Whether or not that is so is not really a provable thing. But at any rate, here is the prophecy, and whether or not this related to the incident then, it does relate to Jesus Christ.

This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes ( Psalms 118:23 ).

Jesus quoted this to the Pharisees.

Now referring to the day of His triumphant entry.

This is the day that the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it ( Psalms 118:24 ).

And as He began His descent towards Jerusalem, the multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise the Lord saying, "Hosanna," or

Save now, O LORD. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD ( Psalms 118:25-26 ).

So this whole portion has to do with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, plus the stone being rejected as He came into Jerusalem was rejected by the Jews, the official coming of the Messiah, the official rejection of the Messiah here prophesied in Psalms 118:1-29 .

God is the LORD, which hath showed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar ( Psalms 118:27 ).

And Jesus who came to be the Messiah became the sacrifice for us.

Thou art my God, I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good ( Psalms 118:28-29 ):

Now this being the traditional psalm that they sang at the Passover feast, it is interesting that as Jesus sang it with His disciples, they were actually already singing a psalm that had had its fulfillment a few days earlier. For a few days earlier they were crying, "Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." A few days earlier, the stone was rejected by the builders. And so they were singing of that the night before His crucifixion. "Bind the sacrifice with cords to the altar." Very interesting indeed. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 118". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.