Psalm 118:1
O give thanks to the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endures for ever.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1-4) Comp. Psalm 115:9-13, where a similar choral arrangement is found.

Psalm 118:1-4. O give thanks unto the Lord — All sorts of persons, which are expressed particularly in the next three verses, as they are mentioned in like manner and order Psalm 115:9-11, where see the notes. Let Israel — After the flesh, all the tribes and people of Israel, except the Levites. Let the house of Aaron — The priests and Levites, who were greatly discouraged and oppressed in Saul’s time, but received great benefits under David’s government. Let them that fear the Lord — The Gentile proselytes, of whom there were greater numbers in David’s time than formerly had been, and were likely to be still more. Say, that his mercy endureth for ever — Not only in the everlasting fountain thereof, God himself, but in its never failing streams, which shall run parallel with the longest lines of eternity; and in the vessels of mercy, who will be for ever monuments of it. Israel, and the house of Aaron, and all that fear God, were called upon, Psalms 115., to trust in him. Here they are called upon to acknowledge his goodness, and join in the same thankful song, thus encouraging themselves to trust in him. Priests and people, Jews and proselytes, must all confess that his mercy endureth for ever; that they have had experience of it all their days, and that they confide in it for good things that shall last to all eternity.118:1-18 The account the psalmist here gives of his troubles is very applicable to Christ: many hated him without a cause; nay, the Lord himself chastened him sorely, bruised him, and put him to grief, that by his stripes we might be healed. God is sometimes the strength of his people, when he is not their song; they have spiritual supports, though they want spiritual delights. Whether the believer traces back his comfort to the everlasting goodness and mercy of God, or whether he looks forward to the blessing secured to him, he will find abundant cause for joy and praise. Every answer to our prayers is an evidence that the Lord is on our side; and then we need not fear what man can do unto us; we should conscientiously do our duty to all, and trust in him alone to accept and bless us. Let us seek to live to declare the works of God, and to encourage others to serve him and trust in him. Such were the triumphs of the Son of David, in the assurance that the good pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hand.O give thanks unto the Lord ... - Let others unite with me in giving thanks to the Lord; let them see, from what has occurred in my case, what occasion there is for praise. Every instance of a particular favor shown to anyone is to others an occasion for praise, inasmuch as it is an illustration of the general character of God. On this verse compare the notes at Psalm 106:1. The language is nearly the same. PSALM 118

Ps 118:1-29. After invoking others to unite in praise, the writer celebrates God's protecting and delivering care towards him, and then represents himself and the people of God as entering the sanctuary and uniting in solemn praise, with prayer for a continued blessing. Whether composed by David on his accession to power, or by some later writer in memory of the restoration from Babylon, its tone is joyful and trusting, and, in describing the fortune and destiny of the Jewish Church and its visible head, it is typically prophetical of the Christian Church and her greater and invisible Head.

1-4. The trine repetitions are emphatic (compare Ps 118:10-12, 15, 16; 115:12, 13).

Let … say—Oh! that Israel may say.

now—as in Ps 115:2; so in Ps 118:3, 4. After "now say" supply "give thanks."

that his mercy—or, "for His mercy."

1 O Give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 118:1

"O give thanks unto the Lord." The grateful hero feels that he cannot himself alone sufficiently express his thankfulness, and therefore he calls in the aid of others. Grateful hearts are greedy of men's tongues, mid would monopolize them all for God's glory. The whole nation was concerned in David's triumphant accession, and therefore it was right that they should unite in his adoring song of praise. The thanks were to be rendered unto Jehovah alone, and not to the patience or valour of the hero himself. It is always well to trace our mercies to him who bestows them, and if we cannot give him anything else, let us at any rate give him our thanks. We must not stop short at the second agent, but rise at once to the first cause, and render all our praises unto the Lord himself. Have we been of a forgetful or murmuring spirit? Let us hear the lively language of the text, and allow it to speak to our hearts: "Cease your complainings, cease from all self-glorification, and give thanks unto the Lord." "For he is good." This is reason enough for giving him thanks; goodness is his essence and nature, and therefore he is always to be praised whether we are receiving anything from him or not. Those who only praise God because he does them good should rise to a higher note and give thanks to him because he is good. In the truest sense he alone is good, "There is none good but one, that is God"; therefore in all gratitude the Lord should have the royal portion. If others seem to be good, he is good. If others are good in a measure, he is good beyond measure. When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because h is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless him that "he is good." We must never tolerate an instant's unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questionable, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; his dispensations may vary, but his nature is always the same, and always good. It is not only that he was good, and will be good, but he is good, let his providence be what it may. Therefore let us even at this present moment, though the skies be dark with clouds, yet give thanks unto his name.

"Because his mercy endureth for ever." Mercy is a great part of his goodness, and one which more concerns us than any other, for we are sinners and have need of his mercy. Angels may say that he is good, but they need not his mercy and cannot therefore take an equal delight in it; inanimate creation declares that he is good, but it cannot feel his mercy, for it has never transgressed; but man, deeply guilty and graciously forgiven, beholds mercy as the very focus and centre of the goodness of the Lord. The endurance of the divine mercy is a special subject for song: notwithstanding our sins, our trials, our fears, his mercy endureth for ever. The best of earthly joys pass away, and even the world itself grows old and hastens to decay, but there is no change in the mercy of God; he was faithful to our forefathers, he is merciful to us, and will be gracious to our children and our children's children. It is to be hoped that the philosophical interpreters who endeavour to clip the word "for ever" into a mere period of time will have the goodness to let this passage alone. However, whether they do or not, we shall believe in endless mercy - mercy to eternity. The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the grand incarnation of the mercy of God, calls upon us at every remembrance of him to give thanks unto the Lord, for "he is good."

Psalm 118:2

"Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever." God had made a covenant with their forefathers, a covenant of mercy and love, and to that covenant he was faithful evermore. Israel sinned in Egypt, provoked the Lord in the wilderness, went astray again and again under the judges, and transgressed at all times; and yet the Lord continued to regard them as his people, to favour them with his oracles, and to forgive their sins. He speedily ceased from the chastisements which they so richly deserved, because he had a favour towards them. He put his rod away the moment they repented, because his heart was full of compassion. "His mercy endureth for ever" was Israel's national hymn, which, as a people, they had been called upon to sing upon many former occasions; and now their leader, who had at last gained the place for which Jehovah had destined him, calls upon the whole nation to join with him in extolling, in this particular instance of the divine goodness, the eternal mercy of the Lord. David's success was mercy to Israel, as well as mercy to himself. If Israel does not sing, who will? If Israel does not sing of mercy, who can? If Israel does not sing when the Son of David ascends the throne, the very stones will cry out.

Psalm 118:3

"Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever." The sons of Aaron were specially set apart to come nearest to God, and it was only because of his mercy that they were enabled to live in the presence of the thrice holy Jehovah, who is a consuming fire. Every time the morning and evening lamb was sacrificed, the priests saw the continual mercy of the Lord, and in all the holy vessels of the sanctuary, and all its services from hour to hour, they had renewed witness of the goodness of the Most High. When the high priest went in unto the holy place and came forth accepted, he might, above all men, sing of the eternal mercy. If this Psalm refers to David, the priests had special reason for thankfulness on his coming to the throne, for Saul had made a great slaughter among them, and had at various times interfered with their sacred office. A man had now come to the throne who for their Master's sake would esteem them, give them their dues, and preserve them safe from all harm. Our Lord Jesus, having made all his people priests unto God, may well call upon them in that capacity to magnify the everlasting mercy of the Most High. Can any one of the royal priesthood be silent?

Psalm 118:4

"Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever." If there were any throughout the world who did not belong to Israel after the flesh, but nevertheless had a holy fear and lowly reverence of God, the Psalmist calls upon them to unite with him in his thanksgiving, and to do it especially on the occasion of his exaltation to the throne; and this is no more than they would cheerfully agree to do, since every good man in the world is benefited when a true servant of God is placed in a position of honour and influence. The prosperity of Israel through the reign of David was a blessing to all who feared Jehovah. A truly God-fearing man will have his eye much upon God's mercy, because he is deeply conscious of his need of it, and because that attribute excites in him a deep feeling of reverential awe. "There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared."

In the three exhortations, to Israel, to the house of Aaron, and to them that fear the Lord, there is a repetition of the exhortation to say, "that his mercy endureth for ever." We are not only to believe, but to declare the goodness of God; truth is not to be hushed up, but proclaimed. God would have his people act as witnesses, and not stand silent in the day when his honour is impugned. Specially is it our joy to speak out to the honour and glory of God when we think upon the exaltation of his dear Son. We should shout "Hosannah," and sing loud "Hallelujahs" when we behold the stone which the builders rejected lifted into its proper place.

continued...THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm most probably was composed by David, when the civil wars between the houses of Saul and David were ended, and David was newly settled in the kingdom of all Israel, and had newly brought up the ark of God to his royal city, But though this was the occasion, yet David, or at least the Spirit of God, which indited this Psalm, had a further reach and higher design in it, and especially in the latter part of it, which was to carry the reader’s thoughts beyond the type to the antitype, the Messias and his kingdom, who was chiefly intended in it; which is apparent both from the testimonies produced out of it to that purpose in the New Testament, as Matthew 21:9,42 Mr 12:10,11 Ac 4:11, &c.; and from the consent of the Hebrew doctors, both ancient and modern; one evidence whereof is, that in their prayers for their Messiah they use some part of this Psalm; and from the matter itself, as we shall see hereafter. The form of this Psalm may seem to be dramatical, and several parts of it are spoken in the name of several persons, yet so that the distinction of the persons and their several passages is not expressed, but left to the observation of the intelligent and diligent reader, as it is in the book of the Song of Solomon, and in some part of Ecclesiastes, and in many profane writers. David speaks in his own name from the beginning to verse 22, and from thence to verse 25 in the name of the people, and thence to verse 27 in the name of the priests, and then concludes in his own name.

The psalmist exhorteth all the godly to praise the Lord, who had been merciful to them, Psalm 118:1-4. By his own experience showeth how good it is to trust in the Lord, who had delivered him from his enemies, Psalm 118:5-18. Under the type of the psalmist, the coming of Christ, whom the chief of the people refuse, is expressed and blessed, Psalm 118:19-29.

O give thanks; all sorts of persons, which are particularly expressed in the three next verses, as they are mentioned in like manner and order Psalm 115:9-11, See Poole "Psalm 115:9", See Poole "Psalm 115:10", See Poole "Psalm 115:11"

O give thanks unto the Lord,.... For all his mercies, temporal and spiritual; as all should, who are partakers of them: this should be done always, and for all things, in the name of Christ; it is but reasonable service;

for he is good; in himself, and to others: is essentially and diffusively good; the fountain of all goodness, and the author of all good things;

because his mercy endureth for ever; in his own heart, and in his covenant; his grace and lovingkindness displayed in Christ; the blessings and promises of it, which are the sure mercies of David: these always remain, notwithstanding the unworthiness of his people; and though he hides his face sometimes from them, and chastises them; see Psalm 106:1; the goodness and mercy of God were seen in setting David on the throne; and abundantly more in giving Christ to be the Saviour of his people; for both which thanks should be given, and the kindness acknowledged, by the persons mentioned in the following verses.

O {a} give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

(a) Because God by creating David king, showed his mercy toward his afflicted Church, the prophet not only thanks God himself, but exhorts all the people to do the same.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. As Psalm 106:1 (see notes); Psalm 107:1; Ezra 3:11.

because his mercy &c.] For his lovingkindness &c.

2 ff. For the threefold division ‘Israel,’ ‘house of Aaron,’ ‘fearers of Jehovah,’ cp. Psalm 115:9-13, and notes there.

Israel] The LXX as in Psalm 115:9 reads the house of Israel, and adds after say, in Psalm 118:2-4, that he is good. Hence P.B.V. with the Vulg. in Psalm 118:2, ‘Let Israel now confess, that he is gracious.’

1–4. An introductory call to all Israel to join in praising Jehovah for His unfailing goodness.Verse 1. - O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good because his mercy endureth for ever (comp. Psalm 106:1, and the comment ad loc.). From what he has experienced the poet infers that the saints of Jahve are under His most especial providence. Instead of המּות the poet, who is fond of such embellishments, chooses the pathetic form המּותה, and consequently, instead of the genitival construct state (מות), the construction with the Lamed of "belonging to." It ought properly to be "soul" or "blood," as in the primary passage Psalm 72:14. But the observation of Grotius: quae pretiosa sunt, non facile largimur, applies also to the expression "death." The death of His saints is no trifling matter with God; He does not lightly suffer it to come about; He does not suffer His own to be torn away from Him by death.

(Note: The Apostolic Constitutions (vi. 30) commend the singing of these and other words of the Psalms at the funerals of those who have departed in the faith (cf. Augusti, Denkwrdigkeiten, ix. 563). In the reign of the Emperor Decius, Babylas Bishop of Antioch, full of blessed hope, met death singing these words.)

After this the poet goes on beseechingly: ānnáh Adonaj. The prayer itself is not contained in פּתּחתּ למוסרי - for he is already rescued, and the perfect as a precative is limited to such utterances spoken in the tone of an exclamation as we find in Job 21:16 - but remains unexpressed; it lies wrapped up as it were in this heartfelt ānnáh: Oh remain still so gracious to me as Thou hast already proved Thyself to me. The poet rejoices in and is proud of the fact that he may call himself the servant of God. With אמתך he is mindful of his pious mother (cf. Psalm 86:16). The Hebrew does not form a feminine, עבדּה; Arab. amata signifies a maid, who is not, as such, also Arab. ‛abdat, a slave. The dative of the object, למוסרי (from מוסרים for the more usual מוסרות), is used with פתחת instead of the accusative after the Aramaic manner, but it does also occur in the older Hebrew (e.g., Job 19:3; Isaiah 53:11). The purpose of publicly giving thanks to the Gracious One is now more full-toned here at the close. Since such emphasis is laid on the Temple and the congregation, what is meant is literal thank-offerings in payment of vows. In בּתוככי (as in Psalm 135:9) we have in the suffix the ancient and Aramaic i((cf. Psalm 116:7) for the third time. With אנּה the poet clings to Jahve, with נגדּה־נּא to the congregation, and with בּתוככי to the holy city. The one thought that fills his whole soul, and in which the song which breathes forth his soul dies away, is Hallelujah.

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