What Does 'Blessed Is He Who Comes In the Name of the Lord' Mean?

When the people of Jerusalem sang "blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" on Palm Sunday, they had a special reason for saying it. Jesus uses it later in Matthew, and both times the phrase says something crucial about Jesus' identity.

Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 24, 2024
What Does 'Blessed Is He Who Comes In the Name of the Lord' Mean?

In Psalm 118:26 we read: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you." But who is the one that is coming and what does it mean that he's coming in the name of the Lord? 

Names mean many things. Our names tell us where we come from and who our families are. They give us identity and describe our character or future. The Bible uses the term “in the name” (or some close variant like “in my name”) several times in the Old and New Testaments. To do something in a name meant to act in some authority’s stead. 

The verse "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD" is a proclamation of praise and welcome for a person who is seen as a representative of God or someone sent by God. In the Jewish tradition, it is often associated with the coming of the Messiah, the anointed one promised in the Hebrew Scriptures who would bring salvation, redemption, and peace. 

Christians recognize this verse in a special way, as it was used by the crowds during Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on what is now celebrated as Palm Sunday. In the New Testament, particularly in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 21:9) and Mark (Mark 11:9-10), we find accounts of the people shouting "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" as Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. This event is seen as a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament.

Let's head to the Old Testament to see where it was originally used.

Why Does Jesus Repeat 'Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord' in Matthew?

As we can see, Psalm 118 is complex and full of Messianic connections. The Jews use the phrase first in Matthew 21:9 during the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, only a few days before Jesus’ death. Jesus entered Jerusalem like a new king, being praised and worshiped while riding a donkey colt. The Jews that gathered threw palm branches on the ground, singing “Hosanna” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The Jews had heard of Jesus, his teaching, and his miracles. They sought the Messiah promised in the prophets and the coming new kingdom. The “best guess” dates from Daniel and others had placed the Messiah’s coming in their time. All combined, they thought Jesus must be the One. The Messiah, the Anointed One!

Jesus was the Messiah, but he wouldn’t be accepted as such. After he arrived in Jerusalem, he cleared out the temple from those profiting off the poor and the Gentiles through the currency exchange in the temple’s main gathering area. The Jewish leaders, especially those of the Sadducees and Pharisees, challenged him at every turn and grew angrier with Jesus’ popularity and his statements equating himself with God the Father, a heresy to them.

As Jesus predicted, they rejected his message, even to the point of trying to kill him, all expressed in Messianic Psalm 118. The Jews would have understood that implication when he quoted from the psalm, “the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” later in the same chapter (Matthew 21:42).

The religious leadership became more resistant to Christ, God in the flesh, and Jesus confronted them on their hypocrisy in Matthew 23, calling them blind fools, that they swore by the temple but then killed the prophets.

Jesus wept in sorrow over wayward Jerusalem, expressing how he would have gathered the city like a mother hen, showing how much he loved them, but they wouldn’t come to him (to God). Their rejection had consequences. They wouldn’t see Jesus until they said, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39).

The Kingdom of God isn’t about coercion or force. Jesus didn’t come with any worldly position or power on purpose. Like in Psalm 118, he trusted in his Father’s power alone and invited people into the correct relationship with the Father through Christ, the Son. The Jews took that merciful and loving invitation and rejected it. However, they went further than mere rejection, killing the very God who offered salvation.

However, God had anointed this one person as the solution. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must stop rejecting the message to enjoy that saving relationship. Jesus is the message of God, the Word of God made into a human, and we must do more than simply stop rejecting the message of Truth. We must welcome it, call it blessed. It must be a joy to us, something to sing and dance about, because anything less is a lie.

The Psalm 118 quote also contained a message that God would save and bring victory for those who belong to him. The message and the messenger might be rejected or attacked, yet the ultimate victory is assured.

What Does 'Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord' Mean for Us Today?

Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on his disciples and said, “As the Father sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21).

Christ also promised that the world would continue to reject the message, and us, since they rejected him; no servant is greater than his master (John 15:20). A few would receive and be reborn, the narrow way.

We have been sent into the world with the message of Christ. We are also his presence on the Earth with his Spirit within us. Our churches (the gathering of people as a spiritual family, not the building) are embassies of another, heavenly kingdom. We belong to our Father, as individuals and corporately. We are also born of a noble name, like William so desired in A Knight’s Tale, but we carry the name of Christ as “Christians.” We have been born of Heaven and come to the world in the name of God.

We’ve been told to pray in his name (John 14:13-15). We were instructed to go with the power and name of Christ into all the world, discipling with the words of Jesus and baptizing others into the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20).

The world may reject the Truth, and many probably will, and they may try to be our enemies. Still, we hold onto the reality that we have been anointed with the Spirit of God, chosen by God as daughters and sons of the king to go out and invite people to be reconciled to the Father’s love. With that mission, loving all people despite the resistance, we know that God is good and that the victory is ultimately assured through Christ.

What Does 'Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord' Mean in Psalm 118?

The Bible doesn’t list an author for Psalm 118, but many scholars assume it was the great king and writer David, the man after God’s own heart.

The writer begins by expressing how great God is, the Lord’s faithfulness and love to his people. We soon discover that the author begins with praise despite the great distress he is in. In verse 5, the psalmist declares how he called on God in a crisis, and the Lord responded, saving and setting him free. With God on his side, how could anyone do anything to him? These ideas are also within the New Testament—“if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Verses 8-9 of Psalm 118 contrast who to trust: we should trust God, not any authority of man.

This theme continues with more details in Psalm 118 of how people tried to kill the author, surrounding him, overwhelming him. Each time, God saved him and gave him victory. The psalmist returns to more praise for the character and power of God.

Psalm 118:22 gives us another famous phrase—“the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Jesus refers to this verse in Matthew 21:42, and Peter also uses the same idea before the Jews in Acts 4:11. In the context of the psalm, there has been a rejection of something God had ordained to be centrally important.

Hence, David makes sense as this psalm’s author. He was anointed as king and then sent into exile by Saul before becoming the king of the whole nation.

The psalmist enters God’s presence—likely the tabernacle David set up outside of Jerusalem that housed the Ark of the Covenant. If a later author wrote the psalm, “entering God’s presence” would have been Solomon’s Temple. While singing that praise, the psalmist asks that God give the people success, stating the truth as proof of their future success—blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Anyone coming in the name of God, in God’s place or stead, as if God was there, should be counted as blessed and given great favor.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/leolintang

Britt MooneyBritt Mooney lives and tells great stories. As an author of fiction and non -iction, he is passionate about teaching ministries and nonprofits the power of storytelling to inspire and spread truth. Mooney has a podcast called Kingdom Over Coffee and is a published author of We Were Reborn for This: The Jesus Model for Living Heaven on Earth as well as Say Yes: How God-Sized Dreams Take Flight.

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

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