Psalm 118

Psalm 118
Israel’s Thanksgiving and Praise Upon Receiving Messiah
Psalm 118. In this Psalm we have the praise of restored Israel, and their joy in receiving Messiah, when they cry in faith “Hosanna, blessed be he that cometh in the name of Jehovah.” Along with Psalm 110, this Psalm is quoted more times in the New Testament than any other Old Testament passage! The quotations are particularly found at the close of our Lord’s earthly ministry when His rejection by Israel was fully exposed. It shows us how the promises to Israel were before His soul at such a time!1
1 Give ye thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; for his loving-kindness endureth for ever.
2 Oh let Israel say, that his loving-kindness endureth for ever.
3 Oh let the house of Aaron say, that his loving-kindness endureth for ever.
4 Oh let them that fear Jehovah say, that his loving-kindness endureth for ever.
vv.1-4 The Enduring Loving-Kindness of Jehovah. The Psalm opens with a chorus of praise. The first verse is general, calling for praise for the goodness and loving-kindness of Jehovah, which endure forever. Then three groups are mentioned, which are the same groups as we saw in Psalm 115, where they were called on to confide in Jehovah. The trust or confidence of Psalm 115 now results in the praise of Psalm 118! Israel (the nation), the house of Aaron (the priests), and all who fear Jehovah (includes the believing Gentiles), will all praise Jehovah for His mercy using that characteristic expression of Israel’s praise; “his loving-kindness endureth for ever”.
5 I called upon Jah in distress; Jah answered me and set me in a large place.
6 “Jehovah is for me, I will not fear; what can man do unto me?” [quoted Hebrews 13:6]
7 Jehovah is for me among them that help me; and I shall see my desire upon them that hate me.
8 It is better to trust in Jehovah than to put confidence in man;
9 It is better to trust in Jehovah than to put confidence in nobles.
vv.5-9 Confidence in Jehovah. The confidence in Jehovah is not misplaced. Israel reviews their past deliverances, leading them out of “distress” (the great tribulation), and into “a large place” (restored in their land). With confidence in Jehovah, the soul is free from the fear of man (v.6). This verse is quoted in Hebrews 13:6, where the writer says “we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me”. It is the expression of confidence because of who God is, and because He is for us! This Psalm seems to correspond to an attack against Israel that takes place after the Lord has appeared. This would be the attack of Gog and Magog (Ezek. 38-39). Israel will be tested by this attack, but faith rises up and is assures of Jehovah’s help and the defeat of those who hate them (v.7). Israel has learned an important lesson as a nation; “It is better to trust in Jehovah than to put confidence in man”. This is precisely the opposite of what the nation will do at the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week, when they make a covenant with the revived Roman Empire, and trust in that for protection, under the leadership of Antichrist and his supporters (nobles). All of it will come to ruin! But those who trust in Jehovah will not be disappointed.
10 All nations encompassed me; but in the name of Jehovah have I destroyed them.
11 They encompassed me, yea, encompassed me; but in the name of Jehovah have I destroyed them.
12 They encompassed me like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of Jehovah have I destroyed them.
vv.10-12 Victory in the Name of Jehovah. Next we have what restored Israel will do “in the name of Jehovah” to their enemies that surround them; they will destroy their enemies! This refers to the all remaining nations that will gather themselves under Gog, and make an attack on the newly restored nation of Israel. The Lord will tread the winepress alone (Isa. 63:3), but Israel will have a subsequent part in that judgment (Zech. 14:13-14), and is will flow out into a series of victories for Israel over their enemies (mop-up operations).
13 Thou hast thrust hard at me that I might fall; but Jehovah helped me.
14 My strength and song is Jah, and he is become my salvation. 
15 The voice of triumph and salvation is in the tents of the righteous: the right hand of Jehovah doeth valiantly;
16 The right hand of Jehovah is exalted, the right hand of Jehovah doeth valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of Jah.
18 Jah hath chastened me sore; but he hath not given me over unto death.
vv.13-18 The Deliverance of Jehovah. The enemies, and perhaps the great enemy (Satan, singular), have attempted to destroy Israel, like a man thrusting a spear. But Jehovah intervened and helped, and brought salvation. The result is rejoicing in Israel, as in an army camp after a great victory; “The voice of triumph and salvation is in the tents of the righteous”. The “tents of the righteous” refer to Israel in the freshness of the victory, as when the army is still in the field. The “gates of righteousness” refer to Israel returning to Jerusalem in celebration! The key word is “righteousness”, which is quite a contrast to Israel’s state in the Old Testament. But the victory is really Jehovah’s. It is His right hand that has accomplished the victory, and the praise will be for God. Israel owns that their trials (v.18) were the chastening of Jehovah, and the purpose was not to kill them, but to bless them in the end. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb 12:11).
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will enter into them; Jah will I praise.
20 This is the gate of Jehovah: the righteous shall enter therein.
21 I will give thee thanks, for thou hast answered me, and art become my salvation.
vv.19-21 The Gates of Righteousness. The gates of righteousness are the gates of the rebuilt city of Jerusalem, but they also represent a righteous way for Israel to enter into the kingdom. The cross has accomplished their redemption, and the faithful can righteously enter therein, and give Jehovah thanks!
22 The stone which the builders rejected hath become the head of the corner:
23 This is of Jehovah; it is wonderful in our eyes.” [quoted Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10,11; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7]
24 This is the day that Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 “Oh save, Jehovah,” I beseech thee; Jehovah, I beseech thee, oh send prosperity!
26 “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of Jehovah.” [quoted Matthew 21:9; 23:39; Luke 13:35,38; John 12:13] We have blessed you out of the house of Jehovah.
vv.22-26 The Stone Which the Builders Rejected. Parts of these verses are quoted in all four gospels, Acts, and 1 Peter. They deal with the rejection of Christ at His first coming, His exaltation at His second coming, and Israel’s reception of their Messiah! This scripture refers to the Millennial day, when Christ, who was rejected by the Jewish leaders at His first coming, is made head of Millennial blessing at His second coming. The illustration is of a construction site. The builders saw a stone that didn’t appeal to them, and they rejected it. But the builders were out of tune with the mind of the Architect, who had other plans for that stone, and to the surprise of the onlookers, it was made the headstone of the corner (a prominent, exalted place). Note that Ephesians 2:20 refers to Christ as the corner-stone of the Church, but here in Matthew it is Christ’s place over the Millennial nation of Israel that is in view (Isa. 28:16). Israel will see this as wonderful in their eyes, and recognize that only Jehovah could accomplish it (v.23). This will lead Israel into a burst of praise that will continue throughout the Millennial day; “This is the day that Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it”. Israel will receive their Messiah, crying “Oh save, Jehovah”, which is the Hebrew word “Hosanna”. When the Lord entered Jerusalem at His first coming at what is called the Triumphal Entry, the multitude was apparently caught up in the excitement of the moment. There is no evidence that there was genuine faith on the part of the multitude, because days later they were calling for the Lord’s blood. But in the excitement, the crowd was moved to call out “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest”, applying Psalm 118:25-26 to the Lord. They were right to apply it to Him! However, the complete fulfillment will be at His second coming. The word “hosanna” means “save now”. In their excitement, they thought the moment had come to be delivered from the Romans. These events were under the control of Divine sovereignty. But rather than set up the kingdom at this time, He was going to the cross, to be bound to “the horns of the altar” (v.27). When rejected (Matt. 23:39), the Lord promised that Israel would not see Him again as King until a work is done in their hearts, until they desire Him, and rejoice at the very expectation of His coming again; until they say in fulfillment of v.26, “Blessed be he that comes in the name of the Lord.”
27 Jehovah is GOD, and he hath given us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, — up to the horns of the altar.
28 Thou art my GOD, and I will give thee thanks; my God, I will exalt thee.
29 Give ye thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; for his loving-kindness endureth for ever.
vv.27-29 Conclusion. The conclusion of Psalm 118 deals with Millennial praise, with the sacrifices on the altar, thanksgiving to God – Jehovah, Israel’s God – because of His goodness, and His loving-kindness which endures forever. The praise will be so full that the sacrifices will pile up on the altar, and cords will be needed to bind them in place. But we cannot help but see v.27 in a secondary sense as a reflection on the One Sacrifice that made Israel’s deliverance possible, the sacrifice of Christ!
  1. Various verses of this psalm are quoted at the close of the Saviour’s trials; no psalm indeed so often, as connecting Him with the sorrows of, and promises to, Israel. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.