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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 118

 

 

Verse 1

O give thanks unto the LORD for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalms 118:1-29.-Exhortation to Israel, the house of Aaron, and them that fear Yahweh, to praise Him (Psalms 118:1-4), because He has heard His people's cry in trouble, and delivered them; the Psalmist, as their representative, expresses confidence that, as God already helped His servant, so He will enable him to destroy the nations encompassing him (Psalms 118:5-14); the Lord's right hand doeth valiantly, so that the righteous can, with the voice of joy, say confidently, I shall not die, but live; for though chastened sorely, I have not been given over to death (Psalms 118:15-18); open the gates of righteousness for the righteous to enter; praise for salvation; the once-rejected stone becomes the head of the corner; rejoicing in the day of the Lord; prayer for prosperity; salutation of Him that cometh in the name of the Lord; sacrifices and praise to Yahweh, who hath showed light to His people (Psalms 118:19-29).

The Psalmist speaks as representative of the people just delivered by Yahweh from Babylon It was probably The Psalmist speaks as representative of the people just delivered by Yahweh from Babylon. It was probably sung at the feast of tabernacles, celebrated for seven days, after the restoration of the city-walls and gates, 445 BC (Nehemiah 3:1-32); not the feast in 536 BC (Ezra 3:4), the year before the foundation of the temple. The law was read each day in the street before the water-gate. The people with palm-branches made booths on their roofs and in their courts and those of the temple. There was "great gladness" (Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:14-18). All this corresponds to our psalm (cf. Psalms 118:15; Psalms 118:19-20). These verses imply that "the gate of the Lord," the temple-gate, was already set up, not merely the foundation of the temple laid, as Hengstenberg thinks. Psalms 118:24 points to some great festal day. Also Psalms 118:25 was the usual cry at the feast of tabernacles (Buxtorf, 'Lexicon Chaldaic,'

992). The Hosanna of the palm-bearing multitude which greeted Jesus at His entry into Jerusalem corresponds. Also cf. Psalms 118:26 with Matthew 21:9. The stone rejected by the builders, now "become the head stone of the corner" (Psalms 118:22), is the foundation-stone of the temple laid by Zerubbabel. Compare Psalms 118:10-12, as to encompassing adversaries in building, with Ezra 4:1-6; Ezra 4:24. The stone laid by Zerubbabel kept its place in spite of mountain-like adversaries (Zechariah 4:6-7), by "the Lord's doing" (Psalms 118:23). The formula, Psalms 118:1, was used in dedicating the first temple, 2 Chronicles 5:13; 2 Chronicles 7:3; also at the second, Ezra 3:10-11, where the same division occurs as here-the priests, or "house of Aaron," they that feared the Lord (of whom the Levites were leaders), and the people (Psalms 118:1-4; Psalms 115:9-11). The formula, Psalms 118:1, was probably also used at the feast of tabernacles after the temple was built (Psalms 106:1; Psalms 107:1; Psalms 136:1; Psalms 136:26).

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth forever - a formula first used by David at the setting up of the ark in Zion (1 Chronicles 16:8; 1 Chronicles 16:34).


Verses 2-4

Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

Let Israel ... the house of Aaron ... them now that fear the Lord, say ... The same division as in Psalms 115:9-11, where see note. Compare Psalms 100:4-5.


Verses 5-14

I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.

-At the beginning (Psalms 118:5) and at the close of this division (Psalms 118:13-14) the salvation already received is described. In the intervening seven verses there is the confident expectation that the deliverance will be completed, and Israel made conqueror over all her foes.

Verse 5. I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, (and set me) in a large place. Omit "and set me" - words not in the Hebrew. 'I called upon the Lord in a narrow place (straits); the Lord answered me in a wide place' (Psalms 4:1, Hebrew; 18:19; 31:8). The reference is to the deliverance of the people from their captivity, and setting them at large, both literally and in a spiritual sense also.

Verse 6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? Dra n from Da id's ords Cedron (cf. note, Isaiah 12:3). When the singers reached the first verse of Psalms 118:1-29 all the company shook their lulabs, or bunches of branches tied together; also at the 25th and at the 29th verses. They used to dwell during the feast in booths or huts (Succah), as distinguished from the tents of skin or cloth (Ohel), the term used of the sacred tabernacle.


Verse 15

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous - (Isaiah 12:3.) Joy was the distinguishing characteristic of the feast of tabernacles. The booths and lulabs had a gay effect by day; the flambeaux, the music, and the joyous gatherings in the temple, had a still more joyous effect by night. The proverb in Succah (Psalms 118:1) is, 'He who has never seen the rejoicing at the pouring out of the water of Siloam has never seen rejoicing in His life.' It was a thanksgiving for the rest (cf. Psalms 116:7) of the Israelites in the promised land after their restless sojourn in tabernacles in the wilderness. As God rested on the seventh day, so Israel's rest was celebrated on the fifteenth of the seventh month. It was also a thanksgiving for the ingathered harvest, as the Passover in the first month, Abib, was marked by offering the first sheaf of barley, and Pentecost, fifty days after, by waving the first loaves of the year before the altar. The feast was appropriately connected with the dedication of the first temple, and the erection of the altar of the second temple, the culminating point of the nation's rest and settlement, religious and civil, in the promised land (1 Kings 8:2; 1 Kings 8:65; Ezra 3:2-4), and finally at the completion of the city wall, and setting up of the temple doors (Nehemiah 7:1; Nehemiah 8:14-18). Zechariah 14:15 shows us that in the millennial Jerusalem there shall be, 'from year to year,' a going up of all the nations to Jerusalem (by delegates) 'to keep the feast of tabernacles,' and 'to worship the King, the Lord of hosts.' This certainly has not yet been fulfilled. Compare Hosea 12:9. "The righteous" are Israel, literal and spiritual (Isaiah 26:2). "The voice of salvation" is the voice that celebrates the salvation already performed for Israel.

The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. If 'we do valiantly' (Psalms 108:13), it is 'through God,' who "doeth valiantly" for us (Psalms 60:12).


Verse 16

The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.

The right hand of the Lord is exalted. Exodus 15:6 confirms the English version, "is exalted," in preference to 'exalts' (Hengstenberg, quoting Psalms 37:34).

The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly - This second clause is the result of the first.


Verse 17

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. "Death" threatened Israel (Psalms 116:15), but the Lord, by His glorious "works" in her behalf, delivered her, and gave her a theme to celebrate or "declare" (cf. Psalms 71:20; Habakkuk 1:12).


Verse 18

The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.

The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. The chastisement was by the Chaldeans (cf. Habakkuk 1:12).


Verse 19

Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:

Open to me the gates of righteousness - (Isaiah 26:2.) "The gates" are those of the temple, or of Jerusalem, the holy city, just restored with the walls and gates, (Nehemiah 3:1-32; Nehemiah 8:1-18.) The type of the millennial Jerusalem, whose walls are salvation, and whose gates are praise (Isaiah 60:10; Isaiah 60:18); and again the type of the heavenly Jerusalem's gates of pearl and wall of jasper (Revelation 21:10-13; Revelation 21:18; Revelation 21:21). If the first feast of tabernacles under Joshua and Zerubbabel (535 BC) be the occasion when this psalm was sung, then the gates referred to will be those of the provisional sanctuary or tabernacle which was PERHAPS raised before the foundations of the temple was laid in connection with the altar on the site of the old sanctuary (Ezra 3:1-4), but refer rather to the second, when the temple doors were set up (Nehemiah 7:1; Nehemiah 8:14-18). "Righteousness" is connected with them on the ground of the justification or acceptance of Israel through the coming Antitype of the sacrifices offered on the great day of atonement, the tenth of the seventh month, five days before the feast of tabernacles.


Verse 20

This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. This (supply, is the) gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter - to "praise the Lord" (Psalms 118:19). Christ, "the King of glory," first comes in through the "everlasting doors" of the heavenly city, to make the way for us also to enter (Psalms 24:7). Compare the 'Te Deum' hymn of Ambrose, 'When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.'


Verse 21

I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.

I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me - (Psalms 116:1.) and art become my salvation - (Psalms 118:14; Exodus 15:2.)


Verse 22

The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. "The stone" is the foundation-stone of the temple laid by Zerubbabel, an earnest of the whole temple, in building which the adversaries of Judah thwarted him, but he was enabled 'by the Spirit of the Lord' to "bring forth the head stone thereof, with shoutings ... Grace, grace, unto it" (Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:6-7 : cf. Ezra 3:10-13; Ezra 4:1-9). Messiah is the antitypical "stone," the "foundation" laid by the Father for the spiritual temple, the Church (Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:20); rejected by men, but precious to them that believe (1 Peter 2:6-7); first foretold by Jacob, Genesis 49:24, "the stone of Israel."


Verse 23

This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Israel may be the stone in, the primary and typical sense (cf. Jeremiah 51:26; Psalms 113:7-8, notes). The elevation ISRAEL from its low state like a stone on the ground to its future eminence (Psalms 113:7-8) is symbolized by the foundation-stone of the temple, the cornerstone (the point where all the building is joined, and wherein it rests) "despised" in its "day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10), but ultimately exceeding in its glory the former temple (Haggai 2:9). Its antitype is Messiah (Zechariah 10:4; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11), the "stone cut out of the mountain without hands," overlooked at first, but ultimately about to "break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms" represented by the world-power image (Daniel 2:31-35; Daniel 2:44-45), and to "fill the whole earth" (cf. on "the Lord's doing," Zechariah 4:6). The stone, in the sense of filling the whole earth, may refer to the Church, the body and fullness of Christ, who filleth all with all (Ephesians 1:23, Greek);


Verse 24

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the day (which) the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it - namely, the day of the feast of tabernacles, a rest to Israel through God's gift, answering to the original Sabbath rest which God appointed to commemorate the rest from creation, the type of the future "day of the Lord" (Revelation 1:10), when Israel's and the regenerated world's rest shall be, and when the antitypical feast of tabernacles shall celebrate the rest from past unrest then first enjoyed (cf. Isaiah 25:9).


Verse 25

Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.

Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity , [ howshiy`aah (Hebrew #3467) naa' (Hebrew #4994)] - "Hosanna," the formula used at the feast of tabernacles. Such was probably the prayer of Nehemiah (as the language was already before in part used by him, Nehemiah 1:11) at the feast of tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:14), etc. It was afterward the cry of the palm-bearing multitude on the Sunday before Christ's last Passover and crucifixion, and shall be the cry of repenting Israel again, when the spiritual harvest-home shall be celebrated at the Lord's coming to reign with His completed elect ones, and the antitypical feast of tabernacles shall be celebrated (cf. Revelation 7:9 : cf. Psalms 118:1-8; Psalms 118:10, etc.), the antitype to the palm-Sunday hosannas which greeted Messiah. On "now, I beseech thee," cf. Psalms 116:16).


Verse 26

Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.

Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord - the cry of the multitude when Christ rode as a King into His capital, Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9). But this was not the final fulfillment of the prophecy in this verse; because in Matthew 23:39 Christ tells the Jews, "Ye shall not see me henceforth until ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." He that cometh in the name of the Lord is, in the primary and typical sense, Zerubbabel coming as representative of the Lord's cause in building the temple, and Nehemiah the same in building the wall of Jerusalem, etc. The shoutings, "Grace, grace unto it" (Zechariah 4:7) answers to "we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord" here. In the antitypical and ulterior sense Christ explains it of Himself coming as the manifestation of the Father's glory, and bearing His name (Exodus 23:21). Hengstenberg translates, as a Hebrew accent connects the words, 'Blessed in the name of the Lord is he who cometh.' I prefer the English version.


Verse 27

God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.

God is the Lord, which hath showed us light - i:e., prosperity amidst the night of our adversity; alluding to the pillar of fire which shone by night for Israel (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:20; Nehemiah 9:12).

Bind the sacrifice with cords. "The sacrifice" - literally, the feast, hence, here the festive victim (Exodus 23:18; 2 Chronicles 30:22). At the feast of tabernacles especially there were many sacrificial victims offered him (29:13). Josephus' 'Antiquities,' 8: 14, 1, calls it 'a feast pre-eminently holy and great.' The sense is, since God is Yahweh, the faithful unchangeable fulfiller of His promises to His people, as he has now shown Himself, let us testify our gratitude by sacrifices.

Even unto the horns (or horn-like extremities in which the altar culminates)

Of the altar - on which the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled.


Verse 28

Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.

Thou art my God, I will exalt thee - (Exodus 15:2.)


Verse 29

O give thanks unto the LORD for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. The psalm ends as it begun. What we have sung with pleasure we love to repeat, and dwell on again and again. This psalm ends the great Hallel, Psalms 113:1-9; Psalms 114:1-8; Psalms 115:1-18; Psalms 116:1-19; Psalms 117:1-2; Psalms 118:1-29, which was sung at all the feasts, especially at the Passover and feast of tabernacles. It seems to have been the hymn sung by Jesus and His disciples at the last Passover (Matthew 26:30).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 118:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-118.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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