O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;For His lovingkindness endures forever. Oh let Israel say,“His lovingkindness endures forever.” Oh let the house of Aaron say,“His lovingkindness endures forever.” Oh let those who [reverently] fear the Lord, say,“His lovingkindness endures forever.” Out of my distress I called on the Lord;The Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.What can [mere] man do to me? The Lord is on my side, He is among those who help me;Therefore I will look [in triumph] on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the LordThan to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LordThan to trust in princes. All nations encompassed me;In the name of the Lord I will surely cut them off. They encompassed me, yes, they surrounded me [on every side];In the name of the Lord I will cut them off. They swarmed around me like bees;They flare up and are extinguished like a fire of thorns;In the name of the Lord I will surely cut them off. You [my enemy] pushed me violently so that I was falling,But the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and song,And He has become my salvation. The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous:The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted;The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. I will not die, but live,And declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord. The Lord has disciplined me severely,But He has not given me over to death. Open to me the [temple] gates of righteousness;I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord;The righteous will enter through it. I will give thanks to You, for You have heard and answered me;And You have become my salvation [my Rescuer, my Savior]. The stone which the builders rejectedHas become the chief corner stone. This is from the Lord and is His doing;It is marvelous in our eyes. This [day in which God has saved me] is the day which the Lord has made;Let us rejoice and be glad in it. O Lord, save now, we beseech You;O Lord, we beseech You, send now prosperity and give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord;We have blessed you from the house of the Lord [you who come into His sanctuary under His guardianship]. The Lord is God, and He has given us light [illuminating us with His grace and freedom and joy].Bind the festival sacrifices with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I give thanks to You;[You are] my God, I extol You. O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;For His lovingkindness endures forever.
As the last psalm in the Hallel series, Psalm 118 provides us the text of the last words of corporate worship Jesus shared with His disciples before His death.
At any time prior to His arrest that evening, Jesus could have fled up over the Olivet hill and lost Himself in the Judean desert, but He had long ago resolutely set His face toward the cross(Luke 9:51).
Perhaps today you have been running away or advancing straight ahead in the most difficult situation you have ever faced. If the Lord is directing you to go forward, then let the mind of Jesus- reflected in this psalm-be in you.
The value of Psalm 118 is that it tells us that the circumstances of Jesus did not alter His faith that God is good and His love endures forever. After the sing of this song, the hours ahead would be filled with the betrayal of Judas, that apathy of His closest friends and followers, their abandonment in the moment of His crisis, the denial of His dear friend Peter, suffering flogging and insult, total miscarriage of justice, the torture of crucifixion coupled with the supreme aging of bearing our sins, and feeling forsaken by His Father.
Facing all this in Gethsemane, Jesus sought the comfort of His disciples and was sadly disappointed that they could not even pray with Him for even an hour in His extreme sorrow and pain. There may be times that when we cry and no other human seems to listen. In those times we must, like Jesus, find assurance and comfort from the fact that God hears us(verses 5-7). As our Lord continues praying through this psalm, He considers the advantage of trusting God rather than others(verses 8-9).
The concept of encirclement that dominates Psalm 118 in verses 10-12 was no doubt fresh in the mind of Jesus as He tells His disciples He was surrounded with sorrow(Mark 14:34). Three times Jesus describes Himself as surrounded. The picture here is that of a swarm of bees stinging him or an army positioned on every side with no way of escape. In Psalm 118 for every mention of the word “surrounded” there is a counterblow of faith: “In the name of the Lord, I cut them off.”
Every time we move forward into crises or seasons of deep trial or vulnerability, the enemy tries to make us think, “We’ll never survive this.” Can we not instead speak these Spirit given words:
“The Lord helped me”(verse 13)
“The Lord is my strength and my song”(verse 14)
“The Lord’s right hand is lifted high”(verse 16)
“I will not die but live”(verse 17)
“I will enter the gates of righteousness”(verse 19)
“You answered me” (verse 21)
Knowing that the rejection by others was part of the Father’s plan to elevate Him, Jesus could say, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”(verse 24)
Psalm 118 ends with the theme of procession. That evening just before Calvary, Jesus looked forward to the future procession into heaven itself(verse 28).
The final words of this psalm which were spoken in the Last Supper are these: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever(verse 29).
We too can go forward into our trials with these words on our lips and hearts.
Dr. John Thompson