Daybreak: Psalms 117:1 through 118:29
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
It was the day after Thanksgiving and I was tired. My head was throbbing, and adding to my woes, I discovered the drain for the kitchen sink had plugged, creating a pool of dirty water several feet wide in the basement. What a mess! It took way too many trips up and down stairs, three excursions to the hardware store, and five hours of precious time to get that issue resolved.
Just a few days earlier, I had read our focus verse from Psalm 118. As I mopped up pools of water and battled mounting frustration, the thought came to me: How can I “rejoice and be glad” in a day like this? As I worked, the Holy Spirit began to remind me of some of the things God has promised through His Word. I thought about His love — that He has pledged to love me with an everlasting love. Proof of His love is that He sent His Son to be my Savior. I pondered His promise to never leave me or forsake me. Yes, that would include a day like this one, when everything seemed to go wrong! I truly wanted God to show me how to be joyful in spite of depressing circumstances, and as I thought about that, I recalled His promise to instruct me and teach me in the way which I should go.
The soggy mess in our basement didn’t miraculously evaporate, and I was really tired when the clean-up task was eventually accomplished. However, I ended my day with a renewed appreciation for the truth of God’s Word and the reality of His care for me. Focusing on Him instead of my woes made all the difference!
That experience taught me that if we want to follow the psalmist’s example and purpose to rejoice in every day that the Lord grants us, He will help us do so. The source of our joy does not depend upon our circumstances, our physical state, or our feelings. We find our reason to rejoice in God. If we look to Him, He will give us grace to meet whatever challenges come our way. God is with us, and He is completely aware of our situation. And for that reason, every day of our walk with God can be one of rejoicing!
Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, but it contains a great deal of meaning. Noted preacher and author Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) said, “This Psalm, which is very little in its letter, is exceedingly large in its spirit; for, bursting beyond all bounds of race or nationality, it calls upon all mankind to praise the name of the Lord.”(1) The content is prophetic, pointing ahead to the time when Jesus will come to save all people. The phrase “all ye nations” in verse 1 is translated in other places as “Gentiles”; a different Hebrew word is used in the phrase “all ye people.” The Apostle Paul referred to verse 1 in Romans 15:11.
Psalm 118, another song of worship and praise, is the final psalm in the Egyptian Hallel. Some scholars believe this Psalm was used at the Feast of Tabernacles. Its design indicates that portions of it were used as a litany, where a leader recited a phrase and the choir or congregation responded.
The first four verses urge the giving of thanks to God for His enduring mercy. The groups addressed are the same as those mentioned in Psalm 115: all the Nation of Israel, the priests, and the devout (those who “fear the Lord”).
Verses 5-14 declare how God had helped and strengthened His people. Verse 14 is a quote from Exodus 15:2, the Song of Moses. “The gates of righteousness” and “This gate of the Lord” in verses 19-20 probably refer to the gates of the Temple where the Israelites went to worship God.
In verses 22-24 the writer referred to the Messiah who would come to the Jewish people. The New Testament contains four references to verses 22-23 (Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11, Luke 20:17, and 1 Peter 2:7). Some scholars believe verse 23 relates to the miracle of the Resurrection, and verse 24 can be interpreted to mean the day Jesus arose.
The final passage, verses 25-29, combines prayer and thanksgiving. Verse 26 was quoted on Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem (see Mark 11:9).
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- In the first four verses of Psalm 118, the psalmist pointed to an attribute of God as a reason for thanksgiving. What is that attribute?
- In Psalm 118:12, the psalmist said his enemies were “like bees,” rather than a ferocious animal like a bear or lion. What do you think this way of describing his enemies signified?
- The literal meaning of the Hebrew word distress in Psalm 118:5 is “tight.” How has the Lord delivered you from a tight spot when you called upon Him?
God has given us reasons to rejoice in Him, even when the circumstances of life are no source of joy!
1. King James Bible Commentary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), page 642.