Last night I was reading Psalms before bed, starting with my favorite Psalm 116. Then I read through the short, but powerful, Psalm 117. Finally, I came to Psalm 118. There is a famous and oft-quoted verse in Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We quote this verse on good days and bad, and it is a great verse standing on its own.
But as I read through Psalm 118 in its entirety, I was reminded of something about Psalm 118 that I came to understand when reading it last year. In particular, I focused on the verses immediately preceding verse 24:
19 Open for me the gates of righteousness;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
In John 10:9, Jesus says: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” He is the gate of the Lord spoken of in Psalm 118:19-20, through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
Here the Psalmist says that God has answered him and become his salvation. Through the incarnation of Jesus — when ” the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) — God became our salvation.
22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
This verse is the only Old Testament verse that is quoted in all four Gospels and in Acts. Jesus quotes it in reference to Himself. He was rejected, and though He is the capstone of our faith in God, He has become a stumbling block for many. But in order to become the capstone, He had to be crucified and resurrected.
23 the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
It is God who made Jesus the capstone of our faith, and God who planned and executed His crucifixion and resurrection for our salvation. Some blame the Jews or the Romans, others blame Satan, and still others blame the sinfulness of mankind generally for Christ’s suffering and death. But it was God who decided it was necessary and the right thing to do to reconcile His erring children to Himself. If we are not in awe of this wonderous thing, if it is not “marvelous in our eyes,” then we have missed something crucial in our lives.
24 This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
So now we come to the famous verse, and what day is it referring to? The day on which Christ died is the day the Lord has made. It is a day we are to rejoice and be glad in. And also today is a day that the Lord has made, and we should rejoice and be glad in it no matter what might happen. If the day on which the Word who became flesh suffered and died a horrible death is a day to rejoice and be glad — because of the salvation it produced — then surely we can rejoice and be glad in today whatever God brings our way in it.
25 O LORD, save us;
O LORD, grant us success.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Jesus came in the name of the Lord, and on Palm Sunday the people all shouted “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” Matthew 29:9. He is blessed indeed, and so are we because of Him.