Read through Psalm 118
Reflection | Psalm 118 wraps up the Hallel Psalms (Psalm 113-118) which as Pastor Chris said in his previous devotional, “Together these Psalms incorporate gratitude for God’s past acts of salvation and confidence in God’s future redemption.” Psalm 118 speaks of the “steadfast love” (hesed) of the God who saves and speaks of the power of God over human power. So important is the steadfast love (hesed) of the Lord that it both begins (verse 1) and ends (verse 29) the Psalm, repeating the importance of our salvation from the God who loves. The biblical meaning of hesed, goes beyond a simple, abstract concept of love. Hesed is rooted in action, and in God demonstrating his love for us through the actions of his promises, his pursuit, and his salvation. Psalm 118 is a Psalm of thanksgiving that gives testimony to the saving actions of God, time and time again.
The Psalmist gives further testimony through a speaker who shares what the Lord has done and continues to do. “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?” (verses 5-6) The Lord rescued the speaker in their time of need and more than that, the speaker can rest in the power of the Lord, knowing with full confidence the Lord is their strength. As we continue in the Psalm, we see the speaker further delivered by the Lord in what reads as a military situation, where the speaker was in a dire situation amongst enemies, but the Lord delivered and came through. This section, historically as an exact event, is not important, meaning it does not matter what battle was won. What is important is the testimony to trusting in the Lord and his power to save, over trusting in people, regardless of their authority here on earth. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” (verses 8-9). It is the reminder that we trust in a God who saves and will not be threatened as humans are in their weakness.
Throughout scripture, we see time and time again God, in his hesed, come to the aid and rescue of his people. Even in times, when they deserved punishment, even death. Even the speaker here in the Psalm declares, “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.” (verse 17-18) The importance of this testimony, that the speaker was deserving in his sin to be given over in death, was that he was still rescued out of mercy. Even more, the speaker recognizes and receives this undeserved kindness of the Lord, and knows it is a testimony to be shared as long as he lives. It is a reminder of our ultimate rescue, by Jesus’s death on the Cross and His Resurrection, that we too are to live this testimony with confidence that, “I will not die but live…” with our Father in heaven forever. All because of the steadfast love of our God who pursues us, rescues us, and ultimately redeems us.
Psalm 118:26a is quoted in the New Testament, in all four gospels, in the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, Jesus is, “he who comes in the name of the LORD.” Jesus will later be, “The stone the builders rejected” (verse 22a) and will actually be the “cornerstone”, the one cast aside as worthless, which is actually the most honored and important one. Through the messianic lens, Psalm 118 continues to be a testimony to what God has done, but more importantly, the fact that he will continue to do marvelous things. God’s future redemption is woven throughout his past and future actions, and out of knowing His character is rooted in hesed, in steadfast love, we have confidence in our future hope in Him.
Psalm 118, reminds us of the importance of knowing that we have a God, who’s love isn’t fickle, but like His character, steadfast and loving in its continued kindness. Secondly, Psalm 118 reminds us to remember. We need to remember what God has done for us, because when we remember what He has done, we can continue to press into Him as we continue to see what He does in us and through us. Lastly, Psalm 118 shows us where we need to look for our refuge and salvation, to God and God alone. All humans are imperfect, and if we look to seek refuge and salvation in humans alone, then we will be led astray and let down. We need to hold on to the “cornerstone” of our lives and seek Him in all aspects of our lives. When we remember all of these things, we cannot help but give thanks and praise to God for our very lives. Our testimony is one of thanksgiving, for we have a God who loves us and demonstrates that love, time and time again. The Psalmist declares that when we live in the refuge of the Lord, and see His Mighty deeds at work, we cannot help but give thanks and praise!
“Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” (verses 15-17)
Consider & Discuss | Think back on your life, where have you seen God rescue and redeem situations, people, or seasons that were thought to be beyond saving?
Think about times when you relied on other people before the Lord and how that affected the outcome of that situation.
What right now, in your life, do you need to give thanks to the Lord for?
Prayer Focus | Jesus, thank you for the testimony of a life lived because of you. Not just in the singular moment that I came to know and trust my life to you, but in every single, daily moment, when I surrender my life to your power and good work. Thank you for loving me in a way that goes beyond feelings, but in a love that demonstrates grace and mercy. I confess that I do not always go to you first, that I try in my own selfish ways to put others in place of you. You are with me, you are my helper. (Psalm 118:7). You are my refuge and strength. Remind me that because you are for me, who can stand against me? (Romans 8:31). Thank you for a transformed life, may your Spirit continue to draw me closer to you, and change my heart to be more like yours. Amen.