Psalm 118 – This Is Our Psalm
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.”
In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
The Lord is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them off.
They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them off.
They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off.
I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.
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.
The Lord has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.
The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
This psalm is widely believed to be written by King David (or about King David) after he overcame all his obstacles to be finally anointed as King of Israel. He also defeated all his enemies from the surrounding nations during his reign. This is also Jesus’ psalm.
The psalm started with repeated thanksgiving and praises to God “for He is good, His love endures forever”. The Psalmist called all his people and all “those who fear the Lord” (that includes us) to proclaim praises to God – “His love endures forever”. He ended this Psalm with the phrase, “His love endures forever” too.
The central theme of this psalm was how King David overcame intense difficulties to become the King of Israel. He triumphed because God’s love for him had endured from the beginning till the end. God loves every one of us the same way too. Thus, this is also Jesus’ psalm for us. He died for us and the message for us today is that “His love endures forever”.
In David’s anguish, he “cried to the Lord” and “He answered by setting me (David) free”. David acknowledged that it was God who set him free.
When I feel anguished with difficult situations, my first reaction would be to cry out to people around me, especially people whom I trust and love. Thus when I am ‘set free’ from my troubles, I fail to acknowledge that it was God who ultimately set me free. This boils down to my relationship with God on a daily basis. We talk and rely most on people who are closest to us; so if God is closest to us, we will tell God first!
Through daily prayer and meditation on His words, I saw a slow transformation in me, to look up to God and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God is good and His love endures forever. That’s the mindset I have to remember all the time.
Because David knew that God is with him, he bravely proclaimed, “I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” There is no need to fear man when we have God. The Lord is with us, what can man do to us? God will help us, and we will triumph.
David wisely declared that “It is better to take refuge in the Lord”, comparing it with weaker choices like “man” and “princes” (those with earthly authority and powers). People whom we trust to protect us will eventually fail us. Taking refuge in God makes better sense. Of course it does not mean that we should not seek help from people around us. It means that we have to do the right thing according to God’s desires and continue to relate our situations to God.
David remembered that enemies “surrounded me on every side” and “swarmed around me like bees”, but “in the name of the Lord I cut them off.”
It is not to be taken literally that we can cut people off because they have issues against us; it means God will give us the victory. Enemies swarmed around Jesus, and he faced huge challenges before his victory at the cross. As Christians, we should expect persecution for our faith.
We hardly experience persecution in countries like Singapore where we are allowed freedom to practice our religion. However, there are other other types of enemies – temptations and sins. Cutting them off is only possible “in the name of the Lord”. We will be “pushed back and about to fall”. But if we look to God as “my strength and my song”, He will “become my salvation”. Can we relate to David in our tussle with our sins?
Because God will raise his hand to do “mighty things” for us, “Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous”.
Do we see our own victory with God as something that is also important for others to experience? We aren’t alone in aspiring a good relationship with God. We ought to help one another grow in our relationship with God. That’s why we come to church, to be with people whom we can form that partnership with and grow together. Together as a church, we can see the power of the cross.
David said, “The Lord has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death." To chasten means to correct by punishment or suffering. God chastened David through various points of his life. The Lord will chasten us, but we will not die from it.
David knew that God chastened him for his own good, so that he could enter “the gates of righteousness”. From all the psalms that David wrote, we don’t sense any bitterness towards God. He regarded the afflictions he received from men as chastening from God, to make him a better person. When the opportunity arose for David to kill Saul, he didn’t. His eyes were at the gates of righteousness through which he may enter and give thanks to God.
When we are severely afflicted like David, will we still confidently feel that God loves us, and is chastening us to correct us?
Many of my ‘sufferings’ were the result of my straying from God’s words. I need to be corrected not by words but by God’s hands. And He chastens me because He loves me. Life is a journey with God and He will not leave us to walk alone. We are too precious to God.
David concluded his psalm by thanking God again. David did not get to know Jesus like we do. But he had learnt about God from past generations and experienced God’s help in his life. He saw the many times God saved him and granted him success as marvellous deeds.
Do we thank God despite our current problems? Thank God for our salvation. Jesus who was rejected by the world has become our salvation. His deeds are not marvellous in the eyes of others who do not know him. But are they “marvellous in our eyes”? Are we grateful and praise God for Jesus?
This can also be our psalm. Our daily struggle is real, so it is not news that should surprise anyone. Do we feel ashamed of our struggles and challenges? Do we shun people’s questions about how we are doing spiritually and coping with challenges in our lives? If we do, we have forgotten that God loves us. Sharing with one another how God’s love endures through our challenges reflect our innermost gratitude to God. We know best what God is doing for us to make us stronger and understand his grace. If we are ashamed of our struggles, it shows we don’t understand grace.
God will save us. We ought only to be faithful and remain in Him. Be steadfast in our faith and watch how His love for us unfolds. God is good, He wants to be our partner throughout our life. So whatever we experience daily, we should bring God’s presence into our thought processes and glorify Him because God is here with us.
His love endures forever.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.