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Journey Through The Psalms: Give Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” Open for me the gates of the righteous; 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 cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Lord, save us! 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 on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Well, this morning, we're looking at this Psalm 118, which is a Psalm of praise, and it falls in a collection of six Psalms, Psalms 113 through 118 that are called a hallel, and these are psalms of praise that were sung by those who were going on pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Passover. And it's no coincidence that much of this psalm has some connections to the Gospels, particularly the Gospel that I read this morning of this Palm Sunday, or the triumphal entry into Jerusalem of Jesus arriving on the donkey. In fact, as we'll talk about in a little while, that Verse 26, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”. All four of the gospel writers used and picked up on this phrase in reference to what they experienced and saw going on on that first Palm Sunday. So how do we learn and glean something from this for who we are as Christians today, it's easy and tempting sometimes to go back to the Old Testament and read a passage like this through our Jesus color glasses and insert Jesus into the Psalm. But I wanna suggest that we need to look at it from the other side of it, in the order that it would have been presented, that this psalm had been around for generations, if not centuries, prior to Jesus making this entrance in the Jerusalem...

This was a song that was sung by those who went on pilgrimage, it's a song that Jesus probably sang with his family from the time he was a small boy until the final entry into Jerusalem for His last Passover. And so this psalm was influential, formative and shaped the thoughts and the views of the people, and it would have been probably a song that became one of those ear worms that got stuck in your head, you know that song? The one that you hear on the radio, and even as you're laying down to go to bed at night, you can't get rid of it, unfortunately, sometimes those aren't always the best songs to be stuck with either, are they... But the fact that people would have been gathering and coming to Jerusalem and singing this collection of psalms as they approached, probably had it in their minds on that Palm Sunday, when Jesus was preparing to enter. Now, this particular Psalm does not tell us who the Psalmist is, but in this whole Psalm, there are some clues that indicate that this may have been a person of influence, possibly royalty, possibly a king, talking about being pressed by all nations and all sides.

But it begins with this invitation, this call for all people to give thanks... Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His steadfast love endures forever. This refrain, this chorus is echoed throughout the Psalms, and in fact, it's Psalm 139, I believe, where every verse has this refrain after it, but this refrain is one that praises God for who God is. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His steadfast love endures forever. Let all of Israel say His steadfast love endures forever. This God, this God of love, they cared for his people. Who cared for them when he delivered them from Egypt?

The Passover celebration is one in which they would have been going to Jerusalem to celebrate and remember all that God had done for their ancestors and all that God continued to do for them. Now, Martin Luther called his beloved psalm, and scholars think based on his writing, it was probably his favorite, and while it wasn't... In our reading this morning, Martin Luther said of verse 17, which reads, “I shall not die, but I shall live and recount the