Deeper Into God’s Word: Psalm 118:24

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Psalm 118:24 (ESV, NASB)

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Significant Context: Psalm 118:22-26 (ESV)

22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we pray, O Lord!
O Lord, we pray, give us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless you from the house of the Lord.

Other Versions:

The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. (NIV)

This is the very day God acted—
let’s celebrate and be festive! (MSG)

Background:

The writer of Psalm 118 is not known, nor is its exact context. It is believed have been written during a post-exile period of Israel, such as when the nation of Israel returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. However, other Bible scholars, such as John MacArthur, believe that the psalmist may have been Moses, and that the psalm was written during the exodus from Egypt. Nevertheless, Psalm 118 is one of the most frequently quoted psalms by the writers of the New Testament, and is felt to be intensely messianic. (For example, Matthew 21:9 quotes Psalm 118:26, Matthew 21:42 quotes Psalm 118:22-23, Mark 12:19 quotes Psalm 118:22, Acts 4:11 quotes Psalm 118:22, Hebrews 13:6 quotes Psalm 118:6-7, 1 Peter 2:7 quotes Psalm 118:22).

Some other interesting points about Psalm 118 is that is it is in the exact middle of the Bible, with 594 chapters appearing before and after Psalm 118. Also, Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the entire Bible, while Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible.  Psalm 118 was said the be Martin Luther’s favorite Psalm,  “But this psalm is nearest my heart, and I have a peculiar right to call it mine. It has saved me from many a pressing danger, from which nor emperor, nor kings, nor sages, nor saints, could have saved me. It is my friend; dearer to me than all the honors and power of the earth.”

Commentary:

Our verse in question, Psalm 118:24, is commonly used in worship services, by Christian speakers, and by Christians in general to “rejoice in the day”. Basically, today, whatever day that is, was made by the Lord, so we should have a good attitude and make the best of it. However, this is not what the psalmist intended in Psalm 118. Instead of just any day, the psalmist is referring to a specific day in history. Some different interpretations of this “day” in history include:

  • In a most historical sense, Psalm 118:24 is referring to the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles after the completion of the second Temple according to Nehemiah 8:13-18.  In Judaism, Psalm 118 is read during the Passover celebration.  God has raised the nation of Israel from the dead, has rebuilt their temple, restored their land, and an new era of freedom has begun for the people.  The “day” refers to the day that God delivered Israel.
  • In a messianic sense (referring to Jesus Christ as Savior), the “day that the Lord has made” was the day that Christ was delivered to us as Lord and Savior.  Through Christ, mankind has been restored, renewed, and freed from the bondage of sin.  The rejected stone (Christ) has become the cornerstone – the key and foundation to our salvation.  All that we can do is rejoice and praise Him, as we reflect upon this great day, specifically when Christ rose from the dead, defeating sin and death, and giving us the opportunity for everlasting life.
  • Some Bible commentaries emphasize the significance of the Sabbath Day as “the day that the Lord has made”.  In Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary and Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, the Sabbath is the day that commemorates the resurrection of the Redeemer – it is God’s day.  In contrast with other days of the week full of toil, trouble, anxiety, fear, and disappointment, the Sabbath refreshes.  It should be a day with joy and not gloom. As a gift from God, it should be a day dedicated to the worship and praise of God.  As stated in Psalm 118:24, “let us rejoice and be glad in it”.  This is our duty, to offer sacrifices of praise to God in gratitude for the gift of redemption that Christ has given us.

Internet Statistics of Psalm 118:24

  • Top Verses.com looks at how many times a Bible verse is used on the internet and ranks them accordingly, with the lowest number having the most popularity. Psalm 118:24 had a fairly high ranking of 1807 as of 6/7/14.
  • Memverse.com assists in Bible Verse memorization.  Psalm 118:24 does not appear in the Top 100 Bible verses being memorized.
  • Psalm 118:24 also does not appear in the Top 100 Bible verses being read at Bible Gateway.com

Psalm 118:24 in Modern Culture

Psalm 118:24 is frequently used in Christian music, from hymns to contemporary Christian songs.  Here are some examples:

  • The Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Choristers of the Chapel Royal sing John Rutter’s beautiful newly commissioned anthem “This Is The Day” at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The anthem was specially commissioned for the wedding by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. The words consist of verses from Psalms 118, 148, 91, 121 and 27.
  • This version is the tune commonly sung in church and children’s groups, and it is also commonly misused to celebrate “life” rather to celebrate the victory of Christ.
  • Fred Hammond’s Gospel version.  Rejoicing in the Lord.
  • Contemporary Christian group Lincoln Brewster singing “Today is the Day”
  • The Hymn “This is the Day that the Lord Has Made”, based on Psalm 118:24, appears in a variety of hymnals, including the Presbyterian Hymnal #681, the Trinity Hymnal #389, and the Baptist Hymnal #358 (see Hymnary.org). The minor variations between hymnals, the text of “This is the Day that the Lord has Made”, written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) is as follows:
  • 1. This is the day the Lord has made;
    He calls the hours His own;
    Let heav’n rejoice, let earth be glad,
    And praise surround the throne.2. Today He rose and left the dead,
    And Satan’s empire fell;
    Today the saints His triumph spread,
    And all His wonders tell.

    3. Hosanna to th’anointed King,
    To David’s holy Son;
    Help us, O Lord! descend and bring
    Salvation from Your throne.

    4. Blest be the Lord, who comes to us
    With messages of grace;
    Who comes, in God His Father’s name,
    To save our sinful race.

    5. Hosanna in the highest strains
    the church on earth can raise!
    The highest heavens in which God reigns
    shall now resound with praise.

Psalm 118:24 in Art

I have yet to find a definite example of Psalm 118:24 used in a classic or modern fine art masterpiece, but it is widely used in clip art and internet or computer based commercial art.  In the example below, Psalm 118:24 is used by American landscape painter Royce Roberts in a work titled “This is the Day that the Lord Has Made”.  This is a common way that the verse is depicted, but the painting of a serene flowering valley does not capture the true meaning of the verse as discussed above.  The “wallpaper4god.com” image that follows might capture the true meaning of Psalm 118:24 more accurately.

"The is the Day that the Lord has Made" - Royce Roberts

The is the Day that the Lord has Made – Royce Robert

"Wallpaper4God" image depicting Psalm 118:17,18,24

“Wallpaper4God” image depicting Psalm 118:17,18,24

Final Conclusions:

Psalm 118:24 is a great and joyous pronouncement of the day that the Lord Jesus Christ was delivered to mankind, that through belief in Him we might receive salvation and eternal life.  It is also used as a reference to the Sabbath Day, which also rejoices in and celebrates Christ’s victory over sin and death.  So, when this verse is sung as a hymn or contemporary Christian praise song, or when it is spoken casually in conversation, do not take its meaning lightly.  Rejoice not because it is a just beautiful Spring day, but instead praise God, and give thanks to God because there is a Redeemer – Christ the Lord.

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