Theme: The Psalm’s Use in the New Testament
In this week’s lessons, we learn that God’s grace has been shown to all, supremely in the Lord Jesus Christ, who out of his rejection became the capstone for all who come to him in faith.
Scripture: Psalm 118:1-26
As we discussed in yesterday’s study, while this psalm is not strictly Messianic, key verses of this psalm are used in the New Testament about Jesus. And it is in this sense that the psalm is Messianic.
1. “O LORD, save us” (v. 25) and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD” (v. 26).
These are the verses that were used by the people who were entering Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday to honor Jesus. All four evangelists quote one or both of these verses in their account of the triumphal entry (see Matt. 21:9; Mark 11:9, 10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13). The words “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD” are found exactly as we have them in our English Bible versions. Verse 25 is quoted differently, but we can see the connection if we know that the words “save us” (from “O LORD, save us” in the first half of the verse) are literally “Save us now” which is the word “Hosanna” in Hebrew. The people exclaimed: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and “Hosanna in the highest” (Matt. 21:9)!
There is something else that fits into this picture. When we remember that Psalm 118 is part of the Egyptian Hallel, that the Hallel was sung by Jews at the time of the Passover and that it was at Passover that Jesus entered Jerusalem and later died on Calvary, it is understandable that these words would have been in the minds of the people who greeted him as he entered the city. Jesus entered Jerusalem on the day the lambs were being taken into the Jewish homes in preparation for the sacrifice.
Did the people understand that Jesus was the Son of God and that he was coming to give his life as a ransom to save his people from their sins? Of course not, though some few, like Mary of Bethany, seem to have known that he was about to die (see John 12:7). But whether the masses understood it or not, these verses do describe what Jesus was doing and was about to do. He had indeed come “in the name of the Lord” to do the will of his Father in heaven, and what he had been sent to do was “save” his people from their sins. He would do it by dying.
2. “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” (v. 22) and “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (v. 24).
As I wrote in yesterday’s study, in the context of the psalm these verses refer to Israel primarily. As a nation, Israel was rejected by the great empire builders of her day as something insignificant, and God was going to make her the focal point of his work of building a new people of God. He would do this by sending Jesus to be born as a Jew, a descendant of King David. But the words have also rightly been applied to Jesus himself, since he was rejected by the Jews and their leaders, and yet God made him both the Savior of his people and the focus of their devotion. Paul wrote:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest placeand gave him the name that is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).
Capstone: a finishing stone of a structure; the crowning achievement
Where in the New Testament is Psalm 118:25, 26 found?
What happened on the day Jesus entered Jerusalem? How is this significant?
In what way does the image of the rejected capstone apply to both Israel and Jesus?