O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
This inquiry may be regarded:—
I. As a check on human presumption.
II. As a warning against impious distrust.
III. As a rebuke of moral timidity.
IV. As an argument against all false confidences.
Parker, Hidden Springs, p. 272.
References: Psalm 118:8.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 67. Psalm 118:10.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on Passages of the Psalms, p. 254. Psalm 118:12.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 97.
Psalm 118:17I. What did these words mean in the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ? Before His crucifixion the words were clearly a prophecy of the Resurrection. But after the Resurrection the words must have had a fuller and, if we may dare to say it, a more literal meaning; they became to Him more literally true. "Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more"—this was their meaning; this is indeed the crowning glory of the Easter victory: it is final.
II. We listen here again to the heart of the Church of Christ, to an utterance that comes from it again and again during the centuries of its eventful history. In three ways the Church of Christ has been from time to time brought down to all appearance to the very chambers of the dead, and from this deep depression she has risen again to newness of life. (1) There have been the distress and suffering produced by outward persecution; (2) the decay of vital convictions within her fold; (3) moral corruption. Yet whatever might be the load of passing distress and discouragement, there has reigned all along the profound conviction that the faith and life of Christendom would not die out, that the Church still might say, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord."
III. In these words we have the true language of the individual Christian soul whether in recovery from illness or face to face with death. The legend that the risen Lazarus was never seen to smile expresses the sense of mankind as to what becomes the man who has passed the threshold of the other world; and surely a new and peculiar seriousness is due from those who have had to pass it, and who have returned to life by what is little less than a resurrection. Like the risen Jesus, and in virtue of His resurrection power, such a life must "declare the works of the Lord."
H. P. Liddon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 296 (see also Contemporary Pulpit, vol. i., p. 352; and Easter Sermons, vol. i., p. 134).
References: Psalm 118:17.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on Passages of the Psalms, p. 268. Psalm 118:19.—J. Morgan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 99.
Psalm 118:22-24I. There can be no doubt that it is our Lord Jesus Christ whom David here designates as "the stone which the builders refused." And when it has been ascertained that it is Christ whom David describes by the figure of a stone, there can be little debate that His resurrection placed Him at the head of the corner, for He rose from the dead as a Conqueror, though He went down to the grave like one vanquished by enemies; and henceforward there shall be "committed unto Him all power both in heaven and in earth."
II. The feelings of the psalmist were those of amazement and delight. (1) Never ought the resurrection of the Redeemer to appear to us other than a fact as amazing as it is consolatory, for there is a respect in which the resurrection of Christ differs immeasurably from every other recorded case of the quickening of the dead. Others were raised by Christ, or by men acting in the name and with the authority of Christ; but Christ raised Himself. The stone, rejected as it had been, and thrown by the builders into the pit, stirred of itself in its gloomy receptacle, instinct miraculously with life, forced back whatever opposed its return, and sprang to its due place in the temple of God. Verily we must exclaim, with the psalmist, "This is the Lord's doing." (2) But amazement or admiration is not the only feeling which the fact before us should excite. "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (a) There was no day before; it was not day to an apostate and darkened creation till the Sun of righteousness rose on it in His strength; and His rising was virtually the rising from the dead. We, then, who can rejoice, because there has arisen a Mediator between us and God, must therefore rejoice in the exaltation of the rejected stone. It was in the rising to the head of the corner that this stone swept down the obstacles to the forgiveness of man, and opened to him the pathway to heaven and immortality. (b) The resurrection of our own bodies is intimately connected with the resurrection of Christ, connected as an effect with a cause, for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. The resurrection of the body is a cause for joy.
H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1696.
Reference: Psalm 118:22-25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv., No. 1420.
Psalm 118:24This Psalm has been applied by our Church to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is looked upon as a triumphant hymn. All throughout are notes of thanksgiving; and all throughout are allusions to Christ, and to His victory, and the defeat of His enemies. It is full of the great tidings of a risen, conquering Lord; and these tidings are beyond all others of importance to man, the greatest, the gladdest, charged with most stupendous consequences.
I. If it belong to man to rejoice when some great captain has fought his country's enemies, and beaten them, and led their chiefs captives, how much more surely ought the Christian to be glad and rejoice on each recurrence of Easter. For it is the anniversary of the Lord's victory. He comes, leading the invader a prisoner, leading captivity captive. He comes to proclaim the victory.
II. The joy that a Christian feels today is a widespread joy; it is not only that the holy and innocent Jesus has shown Himself the Conqueror, but it is because the benefit of His victory reaches far and wide—reaches to all the race which He came to save. The enemy which Christ subdued is our enemy. The crown which He has won, the crown of life, is a crown that we too may hope to wear.
III. The resurrection of the dead is assured to us by what happened today. Sad and incessant are the inroads of Death, mighty in power, still a great severer of dear ties, a separator of chief friends; but his power is broken. Jesus has gone before us through the grave and gate of death; He speaks to us today from the other side of the flood: "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death."
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 3rd series, p. 92.
What are the joys of Easter? Why on this day above all days should we rejoice and be glad?
I. Our first and highest joy today is undoubtedly that Jesus is happy—happy that His work is done; happy that His people's work is done in His.
II. The next joy is that those whom we have loved, and lost, and laid in their quiet graves will rise where He has risen. For as His grave hath opened, so hath theirs.
III. This is an Easter joy: your salvation is sure. Jesus and His atoning death have been accepted. "He is raised for your justification."
IV. If you are really a member in the mystical body of Christ, you were there when Christ rose; it is a risen life you are leading. You may look upon old things as a risen man may look upon his graveclothes. You are free—free from bondage; free to walk; free to run; free to soar in your holy liberty.
V. No one will pass his Easter rightly who does not get up in heart and life a little higher than he was before. The characteristic feature of the season is rising. There is no joy on earth like a life going up, ascending in the Christian scale. Consecrate this Easter by some one distinct upward step, some rise in the being of your immortality.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 11th series, p. 173.
We Christians, though born in our very infancy into the kingdom of God and chosen above all other men to be heirs of heaven and witnesses to the world, and though knowing and believing this truth entirely, yet have very great difficulty, and pass many years, in learning our privilege. This insensibility or want of apprehension rises in great measure from our exceeding frailness and sinfulness. Yet besides this, there are certainly other reasons too which make it difficult for us to apprehend our state and cause us to do so but gradually, and which are not our fault, but which arise out of our position and circumstances.
I. We are born into the fulness of Christian blessings long before we have reason. As, then, we acquire reason itself but gradually, so we acquire the knowledge of what we are but gradually also. We are like people waking from sleep, who cannot collect their thoughts at once or understand where they are. By little and little the truth breaks upon us. Such are we in the present world, sons of light, gradually waking to a knowledge of themselves.
II. Our duties to God and man are not only duties done to them, but they are means of enlightening our eyes and making our faith apprehensive. Every act of obedience has a tendency to strengthen our convictions about heaven.
III. While we feel keenly, as we ought, that we do not honour this blessed day with that lively and earnest joy which is its due, yet let us not be discouraged, let us not despond, at this. We do feel joy; we feel more joy than we know we do. We see more of the next world than we know we see. As children say to themselves, "This is the spring," or "This is the sea," trying to grasp the thought and not let it go; as travellers in a foreign land say, "This is that great city," or "This is that famous building," knowing it has a long history through centuries and vexed with themselves that they know so little about it, so let us say, "This is the day of days, the royal day, the Lord's Day. This is the day on which Christ arose from the dead, the day which brought us salvation." It brings us in figure through the grave and gate of death to our season of refreshment in Abraham's bosom.
J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. vi., p. 94.
References: Psalm 118:24.—J. Sherman, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. v., p. 26; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 255; A. Rees, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 328; Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. iii., p. 275; R. W. Evans, Parochial Sermons, vol. iii., p. 123; H. P. Liddon, Easter Sermons, vol. i., p. 226, and Old Testament Outlines, p. 145. Psalm 118:27.—Expositor, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 86.
Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.
They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me.
The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.
The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:
This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.
I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.