Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
Ps 118:1-29. After invoking others to unite in praise, the writer celebrates God's protecting and delivering care towards him, and then represents himself and the people of God as entering the sanctuary and uniting in solemn praise, with prayer for a continued blessing. Whether composed by David on his accession to power, or by some later writer in memory of the restoration from Babylon, its tone is joyful and trusting, and, in describing the fortune and destiny of the Jewish Church and its visible head, it is typically prophetical of the Christian Church and her greater and invisible Head.
1-4. The trine repetitions are emphatic (compare Ps 118:10-12, 15, 16; 115:12, 13).
Let … say—Oh! that Israel may say.
now—as in Ps 115:2; so in Ps 118:3, 4. After "now say" supply "give thanks."
that his mercy—or, "for His mercy."
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.
I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.
5. distress—literally, "straits," to which "large place" corresponds, as in Ps 4:1; 31:8.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
6, 7. Men are helpless to hurt him, if God be with him (Ps 56:9), and, if enemies, they will be vanquished (Ps 54:7).
The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
8, 9. Even the most powerful men are less to be trusted than God.
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.
10-12. Though as numerous and irritating as bees [Ps 118:12], by God's help his enemies would be destroyed.
They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
12. as the fire of thorns—suddenly.
in the name, &c.—by the power (Ps 20:5; 124:8).
Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me.
13-16. The enemy is triumphantly addressed as if present.
The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
15. rejoicing and salvation—the latter as cause of the former.
The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
16. right hand … is exalted—His power greatly exerted.
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.
17, 18. He would live, because confident his life would be for God's glory.
The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:
19-21. Whether an actual or figurative entrance into God's house be meant, the purpose of solemn praise is intimated, in which only the righteous would or could engage.
This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.
I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
22, 23. These words are applied by Christ (Mt 21:42) to Himself, as the foundation of the Church (compare Ac 4:11; Eph 2:20; 1Pe 2:4, 7). It may here denote God's wondrous exaltation to power and influence of him whom the rulers of the nation despised. Whether (see on Ps 118:1) David or Zerubbabel (compare Hag 2:2; Zec 4:7-10) be primarily meant, there is here typically represented God's more wonderful doings in exalting Christ, crucified as an impostor, to be the Prince and Saviour and Head of His Church.
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.
24. This is the day—or period distinguished by God's favor of all others.
Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
25. Save now—Hebrew, "Hosanna" (compare Ps 115:2, &c., as to now) a form of prayer (Ps 20:9), since, in our use, of praise.
Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
26. he that cometh … Lord—As above intimated, this may be applied to the visible head of the Jewish Church entering the sanctuary, as leading the procession; typically it belongs to Him of whom the phrase became an epithet (Mal 3:1; Mt 21:9).
God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
27-29. showed us light—or favor (Ps 27:1; 97:11). With the sacrificial victim brought bound to the altar is united the more spiritual offering of praise (Ps 50:14, 23), expressed in the terms with which the Psalm opened.
Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.