Summary: Messianic Psalm. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
author & setting unknown
part of the Egyptian ‘hallel’
theme is found in verse 6
it is a very repetitious Psalm
it was used in a procession
collective praise (vs 1-4)
personal salvation (vs 5-7)
national salvation (vs 8-26)
collective praise (vs 27-29)
salvation (vs 25-26)
resurrection (vs 22-24)
• A university student was seen with a large “K” printed on his T-shirt.
• When someone asked him what the “K” stood for, he said, “Confused.”
• “But,” the questioner replied, “you don’t spell “confused” with a “K.”
• The student answered, “You don’t know how confused I am.”
In many ways Psalm 118 is a confusing Psalm;
• The structure of this Psalm is complex and not very obvious:
• As we look at it you will notice that it does not fit into a nice neat outline.
(A). Background to the Psalm:
(1). Unknown writer and setting.
• We are not sure who wrote it,
• Or exactly what the background setting was when it was written.
• That is of course true about various parts of the Bible:
• Quote: “Many writers only ever one author – God himself!”
• Now not knowing who the human author was;
• Is a hindrance to interpreting the events that this psalm describes.
• i.e. We can’t pinpoint a place or experience that the writer was going though.
As you read this Psalm it is a strange mix:
• It seems to require different readers at different points,
• It moves from the singular, the individual;
• To plural, to collective elements.
• Its content is also mixed,
• Using imagery from both a battle and the temple.
• The easiest thing to say about this psalm is:
• It is connected to a time when God had given victory to his people.
(2). It is a HALLEL PSALM.
• Six of the Psalms (numbers 113 to 118):
• Form what is called the Egyptian Hallel,
• These six psalms are called this;
• Because they celebrate the Children of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
• And these six psalms were sung collectively at the three great Jewish feasts,
• Passover, Pentecost, and Booths or Tabernacles.
• This Psalm is very likely the hymn Jesus song after he instituted the Lord’s supper.
• Matthew 26:30: "When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives ".
• We are used to reading that Jesus preached and taught or served or prayed;
• But this is the only time in the gospel records where we find Jesus singing.
(3). THE THEME OF THE PSALM IS FOUND IN Vs 6:
“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?”
• Unlike the Psalmist we might read that verse and think;
• ‘What can man do to me?’ Answer: A lot!"
• e.g. People can oppose, slander, hurt, hate, maim, murder us etc.
• Evil people can do evil things!
• But the point that the psalmist is making is in the end,
• They cannot really harm us because our lives are preserved by God and in God.
• An American tourist’s visit to the 19th century Polish rabbi, Hofetz Chaim:
• Astonished to see that the rabbi’s home was only a simple room;
• All it contained was a few books, a table and a bench,
• The tourist asked: “Rabbi, where is your furniture?”
• “Where is yours?” replied the rabbi.
• “Mine?” asked the puzzled American tourist.
• “But I’m a visitor here. I’m only passing through.”
• The Rabbi replied:
• “So am I, so am I!”
I believe that is what the Psalmist is saying in verse 6:
• The enemy cannot really harm us;
• Short term they may kill the body but they cannot destroy the eternal soul.
• Because our lives and our future is in God.
(4), THE PSALM USES A LOT OF REPETITION:
• Quote: Repetition is a good teacher.
• Ill: last week at the Holiday Club at each quiz I asked the same questions.
• The reason being - repetition is a good teacher.
• The object of a quiz is not to catch out the children but to teach;
• To reinforce the teaching they have received the day before etc.
• So it is always good to review and revisit what we have previously learnt.
Notice: The use of repetition is quite notable throughout this psalm.
• e.g. The opening and closing verses are identical.
• e.g. The same refrain "His love endures forever", also appears in verses 2, 3, and 4.
• e.g. Verses 6 and 7 both start the same way.
• e.g. Verses 8 and 9 are almost identical. Except for the last few words.