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Psalm 118 1
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.” 5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. 6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. 10 All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 11 They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 12 They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. 15 Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” 17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. 18 The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. 25 Lord, save us! 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. 27 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. 28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Background

The Jewish nation had a legend about building the temple in Jerusalem. The legend goes like this:

They cut big stones to build the temple. One stone was the wrong shape and size. They threw it away. Later, they realized that they needed one the exact shape and size of the one that was discarded to fix two walls together. So, they found the stone that they threw away and put it in an important place at the top of the two walls. It held the two walls together.

The legend makes us believe that the psalmist wrote Psalm 118 after the Jewish nation had built something. Perhaps they had just built the temple, or the walls of Jerusalem. Solomon built the temple in 950 B.C. but was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Jews rebuilt the again in 516 B.C. and added walls around Jerusalem again in 444 B.C. So based on this history, it is believed that the Psalm was written  around 444 B.C. The Jewish nation had a special feast in 444 B.C. called  “the feast of tree houses”. This was because they made little houses with branches from trees. They lived in them for a few days in October. This feast happened every year. But in 444 B.C., it was very important, because they had just built the walls of Jerusalem. The story is in Nehemiah 8:14-18. Why do we think this? There is a strange verse in the psalm, (verse 27). One way to translate the middle of the verse is, “With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.”

Psalm 118 is the sixth of the Egyptian Hallels. A Hallel is a Jewish prayer, a verbatim recitation from Psalms 113–118 which is recited by observant Jews on Jewish holidays as an act of praise and thanksgiving. The are named Egyptian Hallels because the theme of the Psalms made the Jews think of what God did in Egypt. He led them from Egypt hundreds of years before. He made them free. But he also led them from Babylon 900 years later. He made them free again. So the psalm starts, “Thank the LORD because he is good”.  Here, God agrees to love and give help to his people. They agree to love and obey him.

The account the psalmist here gives of his troubles is very applicable to those of Christ. Many hated him without cause. The Psalm is reminding us that God is sometimes the strength of His people even when He is not “their song.” Yes, we always have God’s support even when what we want is God’s delights but cannot see them. 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 always find abundant cause for joy and praise. Every answer to our prayers is an evidence that the Lord is on our side. We need not fear what man can do to us. Our call is to trust in Him alone to accept us and bless us.

The prophecy, verses 22,23, may refer to psalmist’s troubles but principally to Christ Himself:

  1. His humiliation; He is the Stone which the builders refused: they would go on in their building without Him. This proved the ruin of those who would make light of Him. Rejecters of Christ are rejected of God.
  2. His exaltation; He is the chief Cornerstone in the foundation. He is the chief Top-stone, in whom the building is completed, who must, in all things, have the preeminence of our faith.

Christ’s name is wonderful and the redemption He brought us is the most amazing part of all God’s wondrous works. We should rejoice and be glad in the Lord’s day. The psalmist praises God, and calls upon Him to give thanks to God for the glad tidings of great joy to all people, that there is a Redeemer.

Items for Discussion

  • What does it mean to give someone the “Shirt off of your back?”
  • Based on this Psalm, what has God done for His people?
  • Is there anything that God has not done?
  • What evidence do you have that God answers prayers?

 

Mark 11:1-11
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” 4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Background 2

Christ’s coming into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday shows that He was not afraid of the power and malice of His enemies. His actions would serve to encourage His disciples who were full of fear. It also shows us that Christ was  not worried about His approaching sufferings. Christ would be treated as a king and in a few days, humiliated, beaten, and killed. We are to learn from His example that these matters should teach us not to seek the high things of the world but to make sure we do not miss the important but lowly things of the world. God has promised us not to abandon us, He has promised us forgiveness, God has promised us eternal salvation. What king would not want such an assurance. The good news is that it has been given to us by Christ Himself.

Items for Discussion

  • How can we recognize those things in the World that are a danger to our own eternal salvation?
  • Why does self interest always win?
  • What do you think the impact of social media would have had on Psalm Sunday if it were around back then?
  • The people literally “Shirts off their backs” – Yet in a few days would call for His death. What do you think were the influences on those people that allowed them to change so quickly?

Discussion Challenge

  • Do you think people know Christ well enough to recognize Him if he came into our Church today? Why or Why not? What can we do about that concern?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=41&c=11
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