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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 118

Smith's WritingsSmith's Writings

Verses 1-29


The restored nation of Israel called to praise the Lord for His enduring mercy. The trials of the nation traced to the rejection of Christ; their restoration to their confession of Christ.

(vv. 1-3). Israel, the house of Aaron, and the Gentiles that fear the Lord - the three classes that in Psalm 115 were called to trust in the Lord - are now called to praise the Lord for His enduring mercy.

(vv. 5-9) The occasion of the praise is the deliverance of Israel. The Holy Spirit uses the experiences of a delivered individual, as representative of God's way of intervention on behalf of the nation. This godly man called upon the Lord in his distress, and the Lord answered and brought him into a large place.

He thus learned, in his distress, that the Lord was on his side, and taking his part; and the Lord being for him who can be against him. He asks, “What can man do unto me?” He learns moreover that it is better to trust in the Lord than in man, or the great ones of the earth.

(vv. 10-21). The psalmist then sets forth the trials through which he had passed, and the Lord's dealings to bring about his deliverance, as representative of the trials and deliverance of Israel.

First, all nations had compassed him about, but in the name of the Lord they are destroyed (vv. 10-12).

Second, the enemy of his soul - the devil that energized the nations ( Rev_12:15-17 ) had thrust sore at him; but the Lord had intervened for his help and had become his “strength,” his “song” and his “salvation” (vv. 13-14). The result being the “song” is heard in the dwelling of the righteous; the “strength” is seen in the right hand of the Lord; and the “salvation” in deliverance from death (vv. 15-17).

Third, behind the opposition of the nations and the power of Satan there was, in these trials, the chastening of the Lord. The enemy had thrust sore at him to encompass his fall (v. 13); but the Lord has chastened him “sore” for his good. The enemy would oppose him to bring him into death; the LORD chastened him to save him from death. If the Lord chastened it is only to remove all that is contrary to Himself in His people, in order to open a righteous way into His presence, to be there for His praise (vv. 18-21). The devil is behind the outward enemies of God's people, but the Lord is behind the power of the devil, and there is no one behind the Lord.

(vv. 22-24) In the deeply important verses that follow, the psalmist probes the root of all the sorrows that the nation has passed through, and shows the righteous ground of their salvation and blessing. Their long history of trial, when scattered among the nations is traced to their rejection of Christ, while their restoration is brought about by their confession of Christ. The gate of the Lord through which the righteous will pass to blessing (v. 20), has its full answer in Christ. He alone is the way into all blessing.

Isaiah prophesied concerning Christ, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation” ( Isa_28:16 ). The psalmist tells us this stone is refused of the builders. In the New Testament the Lord Himself, (and the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles) applies these words to His own rejection by the leaders of Israel, warning them that it would lead to the judgment of the nation.

Nevertheless, the One that is rejected by Israel is exalted by God. It will at last be manifested that the One that man rejected is the One through whom all blessing will come to Israel, even as the corner stone bears all the weight of the building. If the rejection of Christ was man's act, the exaltation of Christ is the Lord's doing, and the everlasting proof of God's delight in, and acceptance of, Christ - the ground of all blessing for man, whether Israel, the Church or the nations. The time will come when it will be as marvelous in the eyes of the Jewish remnant as it is in the eyes of the Christian today. Thus the day of glory will be ushered in with joy and gladness.

(vv. 25-26) If Christ is exalted at God's right hand, the godly man can raise his hosanna, or “save now,” and beseech the Lord to send prosperity through the One who is coming in the name of the Lord. In the days of His flesh the Lord applies these words to Himself, telling the nation that they will not see Him until, in the time of their deep distress, they are brought to cry out, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” ( Mat_21:9 ; Mat_23:39 ).

(vv. 27-29) If the nation is brought to see in the One they rejected their only salvation, it will be God who gives them light. Rejoicing in the light of Christ, they will worship, even filling the courts of His house with sacrifices up to the horns of the altar. Thus the psalm closes in praise and exaltation of the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures for ever.

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 118". "Smith's Writings". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/psalms-118.html. 1832.
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