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PSALM 118

Having loved Psalm 119 for years and having recently studied and delighted in Psalm 117 (the longest and the shortest Psalms respectively), I strangely felt led to analyze the Psalm that joins them!    

The New Testament applies Psalm 118 to the Lord Jesus Christ.

While we shall not study every verse in great detail ... here's enough information to make a good sermon or maybe even a series (or  few weeks of Bible study lessons).    

Hope you enjoy it!

                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

PSALM 118 ... INTRODUCTION ... LESSON ONE:

Let me today just show you an interesting two verse passage of Scripture.  I will use it to introduce another text which we shall study this week, Lord willing.

It is found in the Old Testament Book of Ezra.  I believe ALL the Bible is inspired and without error ... including these little Old Testament Books of history!

"And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid."     (Ezra 3:10-11)

The interesting thing I want you to notice today is that the priests on this great occasion loudly praise God with these words:  "O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good:  because His Mercy endureth for ever." 

Now the interesting thing about these words is that they are the beginning words and the ending words to a certain Psalm!  Psalm 118 begins verse 1 with those exact words ... and ends verse 29 (its last verse) in an identical manner!

Now the old Jewish writers often  used this literary technique.  When a much longer passage was being quoted, the author would just include both the opening words and the closing words of that longer text ... indicating that the whole text was either read or quoted.

It is believed by many that on this occasion of victory (the laying of the foundation of the post captivity Temple, Zerubbabel's Temple) the priests shouted and quoted and sang THE WHOLE 118th PSALM! 

That is quite likely!

Here is another example:  In the crucifixion account the Gospel writers remind us that Jesus spoke both the first words of Psalm 22 ("My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?") and the last words of Psalm 22 ("He hath done this!" Or ... "IT IS FINISHED!")  It is quite likely that Jesus quoted and meditated on the whole 22nd Psalm while He was dying on the Cross for our sins!  Knowing that sure makes Psalm 22 precious, doesn't it?  Several years ago I preached Psalm 22 verse-by-verse in a camp meeting (five mornings)!  It was one of the highlights of my preaching ministry.  I also preached it verse-by-verse to the folks of Victory Baptist Church in Cumming, Georgia, over a two or three month period of time.  Jesus loved that portion of Scripture!  (Of course He loved it all!)

Now here's my point today.  IF Psalm 118 is so important that it was quoted in its entirety at the dedication of the new Temple ... it certainly is worth our study.

We shall not exegete each verse (if so it would take 29 days) ... but we shall survey the Psalm over the next few days and draw some interesting conclusions from the great teaching of this chapter of Scripture.

I confess to you, I do not know the 118th Psalm like I should. I want to change that in these days ahead, Lord willing.  Anyone want to join me?

Grab your "nugget" bag and let's begin!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

PSALM 118 ... LESSON TWO:

We are surveying the 118th Psalm for a few days.  It seems to be attached some way (in position and in meaning) to both the 117th (the shortest chapter in the Psalms) and the 119th (the longest) Psalms!

If so ... we have another "trinity" of Psalms that magnify the things of God.

The first four verses belong together.  They form something of an introduction.

"O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. 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."  Psalm 118:1-4

I believe Psalm 118 is the fuller version of Psalm 117!  Their subject is praise! Psalm 117 answers two critical questions for the Christian.  WHAT am I do to? PRAISE THE LORD!  And WHY am I do do so?  Two reasons are given:  because of His "merciful kindness" and because "His Truth endureth for ever!"  Psalm 118 continues by telling us HOW to do it.  HOW to praise the Lord!  (And in some detail!)

Verse 1 gives us the general principle.  "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever."

Verse 2 tells us that the whole people of God are to praise Him:  "Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever."   The proper name "Israel" means a people "ruled by God" and of course has the precious Jewish people in mind!

Verse 3 adds that one particular group in Israel who MUST praise the Lord for sure!  "Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever."  These are the priests (the preachers).  The name "Aaron" means "light bringer." God's men take the Word and bring light to the people of God!  ("Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."  Psalm 119:105)

And verse 4 declares another group yet ("them now that fear the Lord") who are to praise the Lord!  These are believers who are NOT necessarily Jews.  These include the Gentiles, thank the Lord!  This is where WE got "in" folks!  "Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever."

Notice that whatever their backgrounds and callings in life ... these people ALL are to praise God for His mercy and goodness!

This introduction (like Psalm 117 before it) carefully teaches us that the whole family of mankind is (at least some day) going to praise the Lord!

Now lastly (for today) let's look at the opening verb of this whole paragraph.  It is "give thanks" and in Hebrew ("yadah") means "to throw, to hurl, to shoot or to cast something!"  Actually the root "yad" is the common Jewish name for one's "hand."  In word picture form, when a believer thanks the Lord and praises His Name, he or she is throwing gratefulness toward heaven!  And how does one throw honor and thanks heavenward?  Why, of course, with one's HAND!  Next time you lift your hand (or hands) ... hurl Him a word of praise!  Also let me add that the verb is an imperative --- expressing a command to us!  And its sense of time is that of an on-going action.  Just keep on thanking Him!

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we shall get into the body of the Psalm.

Until then, keep your hands free.  You may need to throw something!  (Some "thanks" to God!)

Or to pick up a nugget or two!

                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

PSALM 118 ... LESSON THREE:

We are surveying the great 118th Psalm this week.

I notice earlier today that it has one verse that contains at least three startling truths.

Let me show you what I mean.

It's verse six.

"The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?"  Psalm 118:6

Truth number one:  THE LORD IS ON MY SIDE!

Truth number two:  I WILL NOT FEAR!

Truth number three:  WHAT CAN MAN DO UNTO ME?

"The Lord is on my side!"  I have always taught folks that it's a matter of US being on the LORD'S SIDE!    But here.  the expressions are "turned."  The Lord is said to be on our side!  (I stand corrected by Scripture!)  Listen to Paul:  "If God be for us, who can be against us?"  (Romans 8:31)  Here is a word of ASSURANCE!

Then "I will not fear!"  When I ponder the goodness of God (which this Psalm has done now for five verses), I realize He's been with me in the past ... and is with me in the present ... therefore I conclude He will not leave me in the future! That alone removes my fear!  Furthermore the Lord "surrounds" me with His Presence!  If God is our Protector ... of whom could I possibly be afraid?  Here is a word of CONFIDENCE!

And then "What can man do unto me?"  Man can only harm the body ... which will go to the grave some day anyway.  He can't destroy the soul ... which lives eternally and God has "saved" by His grace!  So ... really ... WHAT can man do to hurt you eternally?  Here is a word of DEFIANCE!

I would say that our verse today contains some of the "secrets" to victoriously living for Jesus in these last days!

I trust that God will give you a "nugget" of truth somewhere in this Bible study. If so ask Him to bring it to your mind throughout the day!  That's meditating on the Word!

Our little verse today is short enough to memorize in a couple of minutes.  Then you would have it to "ponder" forever!    "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?"

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

PSALM 118 ... LESSON FOUR:

Today I have gathered some general facts about the 118th Psalm that I thought might interest you.

It is strategically placed between the shortest Psalm (117) and the longest Psalm (119)! 

It is a "Messianic" Psalm.   That means that it speaks of Jesus and His Life and Work.

It is the last of a group of Psalms called the "Hallel Psalms."  They include Psalms 113-118.  They were memorized by every Jew.  They were quoted (or sung) at the end of every Passover meal by the Israelites.  Matthew 26:30 says: "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives."  The "hymn" they sang was the "Hallel."  It included Psalm 118!  Jesus' very eyes have read the words of this great text!  His divine mind memorized these verses! That alone makes them special!

For what it's worth, this was Martin Luther's all-time favorite Psalm too.  He taught and preached a lot from the Psalms ... and here's where he "settled in" most often for help and encouragement.

It is a Psalm that employs "inclusio" as a literary feature.  What's that?  It is a passage that opens and closes with the very same thought (or even the very same words)!  This Psalm begins and ends with identical verses.  (Verse 1 and verse 29 are word-for-word the same!)  Read them and you have the Holy Spirit's "KEY" for opening the whole text!  "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever."  One Bible teacher says that when this happens ... the last verse precisely repeating the first verse ... it means read it again (and again and again)!

Another teacher says that this is one of the "I" Psalms.  The personal pronoun occurs 15 times.  It records someone's (Someone's) personal experience.

Verse 22 of our Psalm is applied to our Lord Himself (Both by Jesus and by Peter)!  "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner."  See Matthew 21:42 and Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7.

In Hebrew the Name "Jehovah" occurs 22 times in this Psalm!  (Once for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet!)  And "Jah," the contraction of Jehovah, occurs another 5 times!  This Scripture is filled with all the fullness of God (as Paul would say)!

Before I close today let me show you one more amazing verse in this great passage.  "The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation." This is verse 14.  You preachers who love "alliteration" look!  The Lord is our: Strength and Song and Salvation!  (That covers one's body, soul and spirit!) 

"Strength" ("oz" in Hebrew) comes from a root verb that means "to be stout!" (Wow!  I just found our verse in another place!  Exodus 15:2 --- "The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him."  And now again in Isaiah 12:2 --- "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.")  We serve one stout God!  (God's Name Elohim especially emphasizes His Strength!)

"Song" is only used ("zimrath") three times in the whole Bible!  It means music or melody or song!  But a closely related term ("zimrah") means "the best fruits" in Genesis 43:11!  Our word is translated "Psalm" in Psalm 81:2.  The Lord is our Psalm!  (He also is the BEST!)

And "salvation: is the noun "Yeshuah" (pronounced yesh-oo'-ah), which is just the name of Joshua (or Jesus) in Hebrew!  The text says the Lord is my Jesus! The noun means deliverer or saviour!

What a verse!

What a Psalm!

Did anybody get a "nugget" of truth today?

I sure did!

                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

PSALM 118 ... LESSON FIVE:

One Bible teacher catalogues the 118th Psalm in a particularly precious way.  He calls it "Our Lord's Journey Home!"  This to me is just a beautiful thought!

We know the Psalm is a "Messiah" Psalm ("Messianic" the teaches say) because of the way both Jesus and Peter used it.  See Matthew 21:42 and Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7.

First of all ... the Journey begins in verses 1-4.  Jesus concentrates on God's great mercy!

Next ... the Journey builds in verses 5-18.  We just may be seeing Jesus in GETHSEMANE in verses 5-7!  Then Jesus is at GABBATHA (where He was judged according to John 19:13) in verses 8 and 9.  Read these two please:  "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."  See that word "princes."  It well could refer to Pilate and Herod! (Wow!)  Next Jesus goes to GOLGOTHA in verses 10-13!  More people were destroyed at Calvary than were saved!  It is ever so.  "Few" there be that find eternal life in the Son!  See Matthew 7:14.  Then we may see Jesus IN GLORY (after His Ascension) in verses 14-18!  Notice the expression (twice) "the right hand of the Lord!"

Lastly ... the Journey blossoms!  This would be the closing paragraph of our Psalm, verses 19-29.  I believe it pictures Jesus at the Temple when He comes again (Second Coming) in all His Splendor!  Listen to Him as He enters the Temple:  "Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD."  (verse 19)  What a day that will be!  ("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."  Verses 23 and 24)

Our Psalm ends gloriously in a spirit of praise and worship ... with King Jesus ruling on earth for the duration of His Kingdom Age!

I would surely say this is a new and exciting way to view this passage of Scripture! 

When we began this short series I asked the Lord to show me some "wondrous" things out of His Word.  He has indeed!  (I found that prayer in Psalm 119:18 --- "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.")

Some real "nuggets" are here!

                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

PSALM 118 ... LESSON SIX:

Today we study Psalm 118 one more time!

We have been concentrating on it since Sunday (six days). I have sure enjoyed learning more about it with you!

All the studies are "saved" here for you.  You may go back and review them anytime!

I saw something else about the first four verses the other day that just thrilled me!  In them 4 voices praise God because "His Mercy Endureth For Ever!" The voices are those of:  ALL THE PEOPLE ... then the nation of ISRAEL ... then the HOUSE OF AARON ... an finally those who FEAR THE LORD!  And old Preacher said that they reminded him of four other voices who praised God for His mercy and grace!  (He was referring to the four Gospel writers; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John!)  Now THAT is something to think about!  (Forerunners of the Gospels!)  Ezekiel also mentions some "types" of the Gospel writers in his great first chapter!

Then I can't wait to show you this!  It's from verse 5.  "I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place."  That word "distress" (like other Old Testament words for "trouble") means "narrow" or a "strait" place.  The word picture is that of circumstances tightening in all around you ... cramping you and your life!  All of us have been there.  (Heavy pressure from above us ... and great burdens squeezing us from below!)  BUT LOOK AT WHAT GOD DOES IN ANSWER TO PRAYER!  He set the Psalmist in a "large place!"  That expression is the Hebrew term "merchab" and means broad, roomy, wide or expansive!  (Sounds like a mansion, doesn't it?)  I am so glad that our God can do such things.  He lifted me up out of the cramping dungeon and set me on a great big Rock with lots of room!  Praise His Name!  He CAN remove our burdens and expand our horizons!

Also notice with me today Psalm 118:25.  "Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity."  He is asking God for deliverance! That verb "save" ("yasha") is just the root for the Hebrew spelling of JESUS! Jesus IS The Only One Who saves!  Furthermore the  word "prosperity" means ("tzslach") to rush, to break out, to advance, to burst forth, hence ... to prosper! (Bursting out at the seams!  Rapid and noticeable growth!)  BUT again look at this:  The clause "save now" in Hebrew is spelled ... HOSHIYAH NA!  Say it in English.  Hoshan - na!  It's our very word Hosanna!  It is a word of worship and praise!  When we say "Hosanna" to the Lord we are literally saying, "Lord save (us) now!"  (Hosanna = Save now!)

Does anyone remember what they cried out to Jesus the day He rode into Jerusalem on that little donkey?  (The very week of His crucifixion!)  Matthew 21:9 --- "And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest."  Here's even more PROOF that this is a Messianic Psalm!  (Mark 11 and John 12 record the same incident!)

Lastly, look at verse 27.  "God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar."  Just see with me here that God gave His people something ... Light!  And they in turn quickly gave Him something back ... Sacrifice!  Now that's the right response to the Lord.  He gives us light ... He's been doing so all week long from this 118th Psalm!  What should we do?  Give Him sacrifice?

What's that?  Ourselves!  "Our bodies, a living sacrifice!"  (Romans 12:1-2)  Paul says that it's our "reasonable" service.  (Reasonable = "logikos" ... our word logical!)

BUT the Epistle of Hebrews adds that "sacrifice" can also consist of PRAISE! Listen.  Hebrews 13:15 --- "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

You know what we all should be doing after going through this Psalm?  Praising the Lord for the light He has given us!  It's the only proper response to such a great (and giving) God!

Well, there's today's "nugget."

Did I say "nugget?"

I believe we have struck gold!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

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