Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
This ancient hymn is a liturgy of entrance and triumph. It is a declaration of victory and praise. This makes this section of Psalm 118 a perfect fit for resurrection Sunday.
Just as with Palm Sunday, we proclaim again with verses one and two that God’s love endures forever. The Psalm continues on seeming to speak of a recent crisis from which the psalter was saved. Verses fifteen and sixteen declare, “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” Things deserving of exclamations of thanksgiving. The right hand is a symbol of favor and triumph for the Hebrew people. When the Lord brings blessing and favor, it is attributed to right actions, or righteousness. God may not be right hand dominate, but God’s hands are dominated by righteousness. Whenever God steps into the calamity we have created, God creates right relationship among all things.
The author of the psalm does not shirk responsibility for the preceding calamity. In verse eighteen, we read that the Lord has chastened the author, even severely so. Through the calamity, God has shaped and formed the author to be closer to righteousness rather than death. While the crisis may have felt as though death was immanent, there was life offered. The oppressed was set free for righteous life.
As we read on we see that this righteous life is the deepest and overriding desire of our author. “Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation” (vv19-21). Not only does the psalter give full credit to the Lord for the deliverance from calamity, the psalter also declares a surrender to the way of the Lord’s righteousness. Thanksgiving turns to a life decision to follow in the Lord’s way of righteousness. This is a powerful display of using new ground freedom to commit fully to the way of the rescuer, the redeemer, the Lord.
The cornerstone of God’s relationship with all created things is righteousness. This cornerstone has been continually rejected by creation in preference to its own way. Creation seeks to build a reality without the building blocks provided by the creator. It tends to reject the creators foundation and choses to create its own way. The psalter shows us that even in this rejection by the builders of what was created as essential, the Lord is victorious in maintaining its centrality through righteousness and “it is marvelous in our eyes” (v23).
This psalm is a fitting prayer of thanksgiving for resurrection Sunday. Not only has Christ’s death saved us from the calamity of sin and death, but Christ’s resurrection saves us for an abundant life here and now, if we but only follow him in truth and righteousness. We may have been chastened greatly by our trials in this life, but the Lord will use them to create us further into our created image if we but surrender to His work of righteousness. The greatest and most poignant display of God’s righteousness will always be Jesus Christ. As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus that is marvelous to our eyes, we too are invited to have that marvelous work done in and through us.
In worship together, may we proclaim the reality of this marvelous work through our devotion to the righteousness of Jesus as Lord. For “the Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad” (v24).
Pastor, Boise Euclid Ave. Church of the Nazarene
About the Contributor
This week's Sponsor