Psalm 118, Matthew 21

52 Weeks at the Table – Week 17

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” shout the people who have lined the street into Jerusalem, and hae paved it with palm fronds and sashes. Perhaps they are aware that they are quoting David’s psalm, later numbered 118 (v. 26); perhaps not. The blessing “Hosanna!” that they cry out echoes the plea and praise for salvation in verses 21 and 25.

But, just a few verses later in Matthew 21 – where the incident is recounted – Jesus quotes the two verses immediately preceding them in response to the challenge of His authority made by the chief priests and elders, telling them parables of obedient and disobedient sons, and of tenants who reject the messengers and kill the son of their landlord: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Matthew 21:42; Psalm 118:22-23). They know that His prophecy about the kingdom of God being taken away means that it will be taken away from them … yet at this point, they still fear Him too much to move against Him.

We can’t know at what age David was when he wrote this Psalm. We can’t know if he wrote it, picturing a savior like Jesus. We can’t know if the Spirit inspiring him gave David a full view of the import of his words.

We can know that David wrote a psalm of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord, “for his love endures forever;” a psalm to be sung by every son of Israel (v. 2), every priest and member of the priestly tribe (v.3), and everyone who fears the Lord – a scriptural term that generally includes Gentiles as well as Jews (v.3). It was a song of the Lord’s protection, guaranteeing “I will not die, but live; and will proclaim what the Lord has done” (v. 17). It speaks of the gates through which the righteous pass (vs. 19-20) and of the light that shines upon them and of boughs in hand for a festal procession that leads to the altar of sacrifice (v. 27). Just so, in that final week, the path of the Christ would lead through the gates of Jerusalem and eventually back out again to a rocky knoll where He would be sacrificed to provide the righteousness for us that only God can give.

God and Father of David the king and Jesus, King of Kings, we give You our thanks for Your mighty right hand and the wondrous things You have done: provided freedom and refuge from sin; and triumph over death. For this bread, His body, we give You humble thanks through Jesus: Amen.

For this cup, His blood, our God, we also give our thanks. For Your love endures forever. You have not given us over to death. You have opened the gate of righteousness to us through this blood, and we give thanks. You are our God, and we will give You thanks. You are our God, and we will exalt you through Christ: Amen.

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