Psalm 118 ~ 20190407 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
04//07_Psalm 118; The Suffering King and the Help of Yah; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20190407_psalm-118.mp3
We are coming up on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Next week is Palm Sunday.
Last week we saw an echo of Psalm 118:17-18 in 2 Corinthians 6:9. This Psalm is connected directly with Palm Sunday, the day Jesus presented himself to Israel as their king, riding in to the city on a donkey while the crowds shouted 'Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'
Today I want to open up this Psalm, to see how it points us to Jesus.
Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11 and Luke 20:17 record Jesus quoting Psalm 118:22 after his parable of the tenants who killed the Master's Son, rebuking the leaders of Israel for rejecting him.
Matthew 23:38-39 and Luke 13:35 record Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem's rejection of him, and he quotes Psalm 118:26 promising the religious leaders that they will not see him again until he is welcomed with the words of this Psalm; 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' We see this fulfilled quite literally in Matthew 21:9, Mark 11:9-10, Luke 19:37-38 and John 12:13
Jesus takes this Psalm and applies it to himself. He uses it to challenge people, particularly his enemies, to ask who he is.
Who Is The King?
Some psalms have an original superscription, sometimes including musical notes, the author and the circumstances. In the Hebrew text this is counted as the first verse. For example, Psalm 56 says “To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.”
The Psalm begins and ends with a responsive chorus of thanksgiving to the Lord for his unending covenant love, then it tells the story of a king, surrounded by enemies, in great distress, who cried out to YHWH for help, and YHWH became his salvation. This king then returned victorious to the city and then the temple, requesting the gates be opened to him, and he receives a victor's welcome, culminating in worship of YHWH in the courts of the temple.
Who was this anonymous king, and what battle was this through which the Lord became salvation?
This is the final Psalm of what is known as the Egyptian Hallel (or Praise), traditionally sung at the 3 pilgrim feasts; Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles; at Passover, Psalm 113-114 were sung before the meal, and 115-118 after.
These Psalms are known as the Egyptian Hallel because they echo the Lord's rescue of Israel from Egypt, leading them all the way to Mount Zion. There are echoes in this Psalm of the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, after the Lord conquered his enemies and brought deliverance to his people through the Red Sea.
The Psalm opens and closes with a vocal affirmation of thanksgiving. The speaker begins, and then calls for the people of Israel to respond, then the priests to respond, then all to respond together. We will try to do this this morning. You in the center section will be Israel, you on the sides will be the house of Aaron.
The Suffering King and The Help of the Lord
Then the king tells of his deliverance: I will read from the Lexham English Bible translation, which retains the proper names of God; YHWH and its shortened form Yah.
The king is in a place of distress or affliction, being pushed hard; he repeats four times that he is surrounded, surrounded by the nations. This is no local conflict, no skirmish with one enemy; this sounds more like Psalm 2, where
He says that they surrounded him like bees; countless, close, persistent, angry, painful, chaotic, uncontrollable.
But he trusts in YHWH. YHWH is for me; I do not fear. What can man do to me? We hear this from the lips of David in Psalm 56
Paul says in Romans 8
The Lord is a more sure refuge than alliances or military strength. The king testifies that although he was surrounded by nations, in the name of YHWH he cut them off; they were extinguished like a fire of thorns. Dry thorns burn furiously, crackling loudly, and produce raging heat, but they burn out quickly. Thorns are a reminder of the curse on all creation because of our sin. The fire, quickly kindled, will be quickly extinguished.
YHWH's Valiant Right Hand
He continues in verse 14
Verse 14 is an exact quote of Exodus 15:2a in the song of Moses: “Yah is my strength and song, and he has become my salvation”, and
verses 15-16 echo Exodus 15:6 'the right hand of Yahweh has done valiantly'; 'Yahweh, your right hand is glorious in power; Yahweh, your right hand destroyed the enemy.'
The deliverance belongs to YHWH. He is the strength of the king, and he receives the worship of the king. Notice the connection between God's salvation and songs of rejoicing. One naturally flows from the other. To experience God's strength and salvation is to have a heart that overflows with rejoicing and song, telling of the works of Yah.
Open the Gates to The Righteous King
In verse 19, the king has returned to the walls of the city, and he demands that the gates be opened to him.
We see righteousness as a theme here. They are the gates of righteousness; Those who enter must be righteous. In Revelation 22 we read:
Who is this king of glory? Psalm 24
Psalm 118 is anonymous, leaving us asking 'who is this king?' Psalm 24 may give us some help. It begins by introducing YHWH as creator and owner of all the earth, and then asks:
Then the gates are addressed, and the question is asked of them:
The gates of the city, and now the gate of the temple stands open to receive the righteous King, the king of glory.
Personal Thanks for Personal Rescue
Now we see the king in the courts of the temple, addressing the Lord directly, giving thanks. The introductory call to give thanks to the Lord for he is good has become a personal thanks because of a personal experience of rescue.
YHWH is good and his steadfast love endures forever, but now you have answered me; you have become my salvation. God is good, but we must personally experience his goodness. Have you experienced the steadfast love of the Lord so that you can say 'you have become my salvation'?
The Rejected Cornerstone
Verse 22 is the verse Jesus quoted about himself in Matthew, Mark and Luke, and it is quoted about him by Peter in Acts 4, and in Romans 9, Ephesians 2, and 1 Peter 2.
Jesus the promised king was rejected even by the builders, the leaders of Israel. The nations that surrounded him included his own people. But the one who was despised and rejected of men has become the foundation stone 'in whom the whole building, joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, ...built up together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit' (Eph.2:20-22); the 'living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious' on whom we ' like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ' (1Pet.2:4-7).
In verse 25 the congregation, brought in to the courts of the Lord through the merits of the righteous king address YHWH for salvation, and bless the coming king.
This Psalm provided the vocabulary for the crowds as they cast their cloaks and branches in the road before the King who came humbly, riding on a donkey.
The Psalm climaxes with sacrificial imagery. Derek Kidner writes:
“What those who took part in such a ceremony could never have foreseen was that it would one day suddenly enact itself on the road to Jerusalem: unrehearsed, unliturgical and with explosive force. In that week when God's realities broke through His symbols and shadows (cf. Heb.10:1), the horns of the altar became the arms of the cross, and the 'festival' itself found fulfillment in 'Christ our passover' (1 Cor. 5:7, AV).” [Kidner, p.415]
Some sacrificial animals no doubt were difficult to handle may have necessitated binding them with cords. But Jesus said:
Jesus bound himself to the cross with cords of love (Hosea 11:4).
A Personal and Public Response of Praise
Verse 28 completes the quotation from Exodus 15 which began in verse 14, but in a more personal and direct way:
The deliverance from Egypt points to our greater deliverance from a greater enemy by one greater than Moses; our deliverance out of greater bondage and lead by a greater king to a greater promised land and into a greater sanctuary.
The Psalm concludes with the refrain with which it opened:
Let's say this together:
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org