Jesus in the Psalms: Psalm 118

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Psalm 118 (NIV)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say:
    “His love endures forever.”

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.[b]
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up[c] to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, so it is wonderful that we have the opportunity to explore Psalm 118, which is known for that familiar declaration: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (v. 24). What is often overlooked is the larger context of that verse which Jesus and the early church quoted regularly. In fact, Psalm 118 is the second most-quoted psalm in the New Testament (thirteen citations).

The day that the psalm is rejoicing in and being glad over is, prophetically speaking, the resurrection of Jesus Christ: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (vv. 22–23). This psalm does not identify who the stone was that was rejected and vindicated. However, in the New Testament, Jesus tells the parable of the tenants who repeatedly beat up various servants who had been sent by the master to collect his proper share of the harvest. Finally, the master sends his own beloved son (Mark 12:6), thinking that surely they will respect him. But instead, they kill him.

The parable portrays the story of how the Jewish people had repeatedly rejected the prophets sent to them, but now God has sent his one and only Son into the world, and they are poised to reject and kill him. On this first day of Advent, we are reminded of why Jesus was sent into the world. He came into the world to be the stone which the builders would reject, but would, in fact, be the cornerstone. How tragic that Jesus was rejected when he is, in fact, the key revelation of God that holds everything else together. Indeed, God vindicated that he was not a rejected stone, but the promised Son, by raising him from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus Christ becomes, therefore, that great “day which the Lord has made” which we will “rejoice and be glad in it” (v. 24).

The apostle Peter makes the same point in his sermon before the Sanhedrin explaining how the name of Jesus made a crippled man whole. Peter says, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. [Jesus] is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone’” (Acts 4:10–11).

This important citation demonstrates how the early church was able to identify Jesus in the psalms. Verse 26 of this same psalm is quoted again and applied to Jesus when he triumphantly enters Jerusalem, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:39; see also Mark 11:9; Luke 19:38). It is important to read the Psalms and, indeed, all of Scripture, through Christian eyes. This is why the New Testament is not afraid to proclaim that Jesus is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (Isa. 53:6–9; 1 Peter 2:21–25); he is the rock out of which water came in the wilderness (Exod. 17:6; 1 Cor. 10:4); he is the stone the builders rejected which became the cornerstone; he is the seed of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20); he is the Lord to whom David declared all enemies would be placed under his feet (Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:41–46). The list could go on and on, but this is the great truth of Jesus Christ. He fills the whole frame. He fulfills Law, Priest, King, and Sacrifice! We cannot easily partition off the old covenant from the new. Once God himself enters the world, then all revelation bows down to him and is ultimately fulfilled by him! This is what prepare for in this glorious season of Advent!

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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