"This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." ~ Psalm 118:24
The Psalmist in Psalm 118 is writing at a time in their life where they are facing challenging situations. Such times required them to call out to the Lord in anguish for he was surrounded by the enemy of his soul. Amid all his struggles, the Psalmist starts and ends Psalm 118 with the same verse giving thanks and praise to the Lord.
Jesus and the Gospel in Psalm 118
Psalm 118 is abundant with rich gospel truths. Jesus used these when He spoke of being rejected by people (Matthew 21:43; Mark 12:10-11; Luke 21:17). Jesus is the “cornerstone” who is the pillar and buttress of the Church (Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-7).
The capstone is a significant stone at the very center of the top of an arch. It is critical as it holds together all the other pieces of the arch. Without the capstone, the whole arch would fail. Jesus is the capstone of the Church and the Christian life. Without the Lord Jesus, every Christian would fail to be secure and preserve in the grace of God.
The Psalmist of Psalm 118 refers to this being the day the Lord has made. Such a day speaks to the arrival of Christ on earth as a baby where He will later as an adult dies in place of sinners for their sin.
Psalm 118:25-27 is familiar to many Christians because it is repeated throughout the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19). Such a time was where people cried out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and held branches as Jesus passed by on a donkey. All of this was in fulfillment of prophecy as they welcome Jesus into the city of Jerusalem in worship. A few days later, after this event, these same people who worshipped Jesus would pick Barabbas a murder over Jesus and send the Lord to be crucified for their sins.
The Christian Life and Psalm 118
1. Psalm 118 and Tough Days.
Tough days are hard on everyone. On tough days we need to recognize that every day we are breathing is a gift from God (Psalm 118:11). Jesus is the very reason every Christian has hope amid battles and peace in the storms of life. The Lord Jesus is with the people of God and will never leave nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5). The faithfulness of God is an encouragement amid trials because it helps Christians know peace in experience and have joy in trials (Philippians 4:6-8; James 1:2-4). Christians amid the trials of life can know the love of God that secures them (Romans 8:31-39). Such knowledge provides strength and assurance to Christians that they can face all the trials of life with the security they are known and loved as adopted sons and daughters of God.
2. Psalm 118 and Mercy and Grace for the Christian
To understand how mercy and grace are for the Christian, we need to know how the Lord fights on the side of His people (Psalm 118:6-7). The Lord permits trials and tribulations in the life of the Christian to conform them into the image of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:28-30; James 1:2-4). The Psalmist in Psalm 118 understood this principle well and praised the Lord for these truths.
The Creator disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6) to turn them from sin and to Jesus. The Lord does all this so His people might sing, “the right hand of the Lord exalts, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!” (Psalm 118:16). The Psalmist experienced severe discipline from the Lord and still resolved to praise the Lord (Psalm 118:18). Such truths remind Christians that even amid critical challenges or discipline, they should praise the Lord in all things.
Jesus and the Fulfillment of Psalm 118
In Matthew 21:33-44, Jesus teaches that He is the fulfillment of Psalm 118. Psalm 118 would have been sung by Israelites and the community of Israel in the synagogue. In explaining this particular point, Jesus is highlighting how He is the truest fulfillment for the people of Israel. Jesus is faithful Israel, the Son of God who fulfills the will of God (Hosea 1:1; Matthew 2:13-16; Matthew 3:13-17).
Jesus, the Israel of God, was rejected and crucified (Psalm 118:22). Such a rejection (Psalm 118:22) was the path to the Lord being the cornerstone of the people of God. Such a cornerstone provides a foundation of stability that joins two walls together. Ephesians 2:20 is where Paul applies both of the previous ideas about the cornerstone to Jesus. In his sermon “The Headstone of the Corner,” Charles Spurgeon declares: “This precious Cornerstone binds God and man together in wondrous amity, for He is both in one! He joins earth and Heaven together, for He participates in each! He joins time and eternity together, for He was a man of a few years, and yet He is the Ancient of Days!”
The Lord Jesus was rejected by Israel but exalted and is the cornerstone of the people of God whom the Lord delights to call His people. Christians are servants of the Lord who was rejected. As such, they should expect to face rejection from a world that loves darkness. Christians are those who are in Christ and as such will be raised up to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus (2 Timothy 2:12).
When you, as Christians, are rejected for your profession of faith, remember how Jesus was mocked, beaten, suffered, and died for you. In light of such truths be encouraged to remain faithful in light of all Jesus has done and encouraged He summons you who knows and understands to His throne of grace (Hebrews 2:16-18; Hebrews 4:14-16).
Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the Host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast. He received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter at @davejjenkins, find him on Facebook at Dave Jenkins SOG, Instagram, or read more of his writing at Servants of Grace, or sign up for his email newsletter. When Dave isn’t busy with ministry, he loves spending time with his wife, Sarah, reading the latest from Christian publishers, the Reformers, and the Puritans, playing golf, watching movies, sports, and spending time with his family.