Psalm 118 Bible Commentary

Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown

(Read all of Psalm 118)

Ps 118:1-29. After invoking others to unite in praise, the writer celebrates God's protecting and delivering care towards him, and then represents himself and the people of God as entering the sanctuary and uniting in solemn praise, with prayer for a continued blessing. Whether composed by David on his accession to power, or by some later writer in memory of the restoration from Babylon, its tone is joyful and trusting, and, in describing the fortune and destiny of the Jewish Church and its visible head, it is typically prophetical of the Christian Church and her greater and invisible Head.

1-4. The trine repetitions are emphatic (compare Ps 118:10-12, 15, 16; 115:12, 13).
Let . . . say--Oh! that Israel may say.
now--as in Ps 115:2; so in Ps 118:3, 4. After "now say" supply "give thanks."
that his mercy--or, "for His mercy."

5. distress--literally, "straits," to which "large place" corresponds, as in Ps 4:1; 31:8.

6, 7. Men are helpless to hurt him, if God be with him (Ps 56:9), and, if enemies, they will be vanquished (Ps 54:7).

8, 9. Even the most powerful men are less to be trusted than God.

10-12. Though as numerous and irritating as bees [Ps 118:12], by God's help his enemies would be destroyed.

12. as the fire of thorns--suddenly.
in the name, &c.--by the power (Ps 20:5; 124:8).

13-16. The enemy is triumphantly addressed as if present.

15. rejoicing and salvation--the latter as cause of the former.

16. right hand . . . is exalted--His power greatly exerted.

17, 18. He would live, because confident his life would be for God's glory.

19-21. Whether an actual or figurative entrance into God's house be meant, the purpose of solemn praise is intimated, in which only the righteous would or could engage.

22, 23. These words are applied by Christ (Mt 21:42) to Himself, as the foundation of the Church (compare Ac 4:11; Eph 2:20; 1Pe 2:4, 7). It may here denote God's wondrous exaltation to power and influence of him whom the rulers of the nation despised. Whether (see on Ps 118:1) David or Zerubbabel (compare Hag 2:2; Zec 4:7-10) be primarily meant, there is here typically represented God's more wonderful doings in exalting Christ, crucified as an impostor, to be the Prince and Saviour and Head of His Church.

24. This is the day--or period distinguished by God's favor of all others.

25. Save now--Hebrew, "Hosanna" (compare Ps 115:2, &c., as to now) a form of prayer (Ps 20:9), since, in our use, of praise.

26. he that cometh . . . Lord--As above intimated, this may be applied to the visible head of the Jewish Church entering the sanctuary, as leading the procession; typically it belongs to Him of whom the phrase became an epithet (Mal 3:1; Mt 21:9).

27-29. showed us light--or favor (Ps 27:1; 97:11). With the sacrificial victim brought bound to the altar is united the more spiritual offering of praise (Ps 50:14, 23), expressed in the terms with which the Psalm opened.