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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, April 26, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 118:14–29          

The Lord is my strength and my might;
    he has become my salvation.

There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
    the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
    the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
I shall not die, but I shall live,
    and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely,
    but he did not give me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
    that I may enter through them
    and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
    the righteous shall enter through it.

I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
    O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
    and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
    up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
    you are my God, I will extol you.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever. (NRSV)

Reflection
We may not recognize the words of verse 25 of Psalm 118 (“Save us”) as belonging to a recent worship celebration, but if we look again at verse 26 (“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”) we might guess. “Save us” is “Hosanna”: this is the psalm people were shouting at Jesus when he entered Jerusalem. It’s Palm Sunday.

Psalm 118 belongs to a collection of psalms that were customarily used during the festival of Passover to reiterate God’s saving activity toward Israel, and there are clear echoes of that in Psalm 118 itself. “The Lord is my strength and my might,” who has “become my salvation,” quotes almost exactly Exodus 15:2, the “Song of the Sea” sung by Moses and the Israelites after their deliverance from Egypt. More than the Exodus, though, Psalm 118 praises God’s ongoing care and protection, even in the face of punishment (likely the exile), so that “I shall not die but live.”

Christians going all the way back to the authors of the four Gospels of the New Testament have identified Jesus as “the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” even though the psalm doesn’t say specifically who that is. This one, for the psalmist, is an intentionally unidentified figure who faced deadly threats and rejection from the worldly powers that be but who has been vindicated and saved by God on behalf of the community. The community that sings this song sees itself reflected in the stone that the builders rejected but that God has made the chief cornerstone.

The church returns to Psalm 118 during Eastertide because of its vigorous affirmation of the central good news of the resurrection, that life, not death, is ours, thanks be to God. The recitation of that good news is “marvelous,” and it leads us to call every day now “the day that the Lord has made,” an occasion for rejoicing and gladness. None other than John Calvin, the church Reformer Presbyterians trace much of our theological lineage back to, said of these words, “We whose life is hid with Christ in God ought to meditate on this psalm all the days of our lives.”

Starting today.

Prayer
This is the day that you have made, O God, and we will rejoice and be glad in it. May we bless you and give thanks to you in all we do today and all our days. In the name of Christ, the stone you have made the chief cornerstone. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry and Worship

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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