This is the sixth and last of the Hallel. It is the song of perfect victory, and was undoubtedly arranged to be sung by the triumphal procession as it made its way to the Temple for thanksgiving and worship. It is almost impossible however to trace its divisions in that way. As to its subject-matter it may be thus divided:
Introduction. The Call to Praise (vv. Psalms 118:1-4).
The threefold Song of Israel, of Aaron, of the People (vv. Psalms 118:5-27).
Conclusion (vv. Psalms 118:28-29).
The call is to praise specifically for Jehovah’s enduring mercy. It is addressed to Israel as the ideal servant; to the house of Aaron as the priesthood; to all that fear the Lord. To this call Israel personified first replies in a song which sets forth the story of distress and deliverance which had characterised the history of the long years (vv. Psalms 118:5-18). The Aaron as the priest, who had the right to enter through all the gates, takes up the song, and challenges them to admit him, rejoicing in Jehovah’s exaltation of him (vv. Psalms 118:19-22). Then the people sing of the marvel of the Lord’s doings, and devote themselves to Him (vv. Psalms 118:23-27). Finally the psalmist strikes the note of personal thanksgiving ending with a call to praise. This is pre-eminently the triumph song of the Christ, He the ideal Servant, He the perfect Priest, He the Leader of the people. How much all these words meant to Him as He sang them on that night in the upper room.
the Second Week after Epiphany