“This is the day the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
Psalm 118 tells an amazing story. The story of a day. The story of a week. The story of all history. The story of eternity. Only God could tell this story, and only his Son could make it come true. Hallelujah!
On this Tuesday morning during the busiest of weeks for preaching pastors, I hope that you take a few moments, with holy joy, to listen and sing along with this musical setting of Psalm 118. Now let’s briefly consider how Psalm 118 continually motivates pastors to serve with strength and why Easter morning is the perfect time to sing/shout Psalm 118 with God’s people.
Motivation for pastors
It is easy for ministers of the gospel to be focused on and motivated by lesser things, by earthly things, yes, by the wrong things: what people are saying, how the statistics are looking, and how I am feeling about things. The human heart is an idol factory, and pastors so easily manufacture and set idols up in their own hearts. LORD, have mercy!
Psalm 118 helps by drawing the eyes of our hearts to the LORD and to our dear Savior. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his mercy endures forever.” “It is better to trust in the LORD than to trust in man.” “The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.” “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone. The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.”
An unhurried and careful reading/praying/singing of Psalm 118 puts everything into perspective for me. I have received eternal grace from the LORD God himself. He has made me a part of his eternal story. The Son was rejected by the world and exalted by the Father for me—for my forgiveness, for my life, for my eternal salvation! The Spirit of the Father and the Son dwells inside of me and produces fruit in me—yes, even in this body of death! Life in this world, including especially the shepherding I do under Jesus Christ in his church, provides me with countless and amazing opportunities to proclaim what the LORD has done. The LORD graciously accepts my service to him, and he makes something of it, even something eternal.
Psalm 118 motivates me to keep serving, this day and every day, with the strength he provides.
The perfect time to sing Psalm 118 with God’s people
Psalm 118 gives me joy and strength every time I read it. Why wouldn’t I read and ponder this Psalm and praise the author and perfecter of my faith every month? I can sing Psalm 118 any time!
But I must sing and shout this Psalm on Easter morning with God’s people, for Easter is our day of victory. “The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.” Jesus has defeated our enemies for us. He has removed our sins far from us; they are buried forever. His resurrection to life is proof! Jesus has overcome the devil. His victory-proclaiming sermon in hell on Easter morning is proof! Jesus has conquered the last enemy we will ever face. The rolling away of the stone revealing an orderly and empty tomb is proof that the God of creation who raised our Savior will raise us also to life on the Last Day! Jesus is not just another human being in whom we would be foolish to take refuge; he is God himself, the LORD of hosts, our victorious Savior. His resurrection from the dead is proof!
The day after the Exodus, the morning sun glistened upon the Red Sea and revealed that Israel’s enemies had all been drowned. With Moses, God’s chosen people sang “the song by the sea”: “The LORD is my strength and my defense” (Exod 15:2). Easter dawn has brought to light the decisive defeat of all our enemies. With the LORD Jesus Christ, God’s chosen people sing “the song by the empty tomb”: “The LORD is my strength and my defense” (Psa 118:13).
God bless your pondering and proclamation of the Easter gospel!
Bradley D. Wordell