Verse 29. "O give thanks unto the Lord " - This is the general doxology or chorus. All join in thanksgiving, and they end as they began: "His mercy endureth for ever." It began at the creation of man; it will continue till the earth is burnt up.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEENTH PSALM
The parts of this Psalm are the following: - I. An exhortation to praise God for his mercy, ver. 1-5.
II. A persuasion to trust in God, and that from the psalmist's own example, who called upon God, and was delivered from trouble, ver. 5-14.
III. The exultation of the Church for it, ver. 15-18.
IV. A solemn thanksgiving kept for it, and in what manner it was celebrated, ver. 19-27.
V. A short doxology.
1. The psalmist invites all to praise God: "O give thanks," &c., and adds his reasons: - 1. "For he is good." How briefly and powerfully spoken! He is absolutely good.
2. "He is good, and ever good." To us he is a merciful God, which flows from his goodness; his mercy created, redeemed, protects, and will crown us. Thus his mercy extends especially to his people; therefore: - 1. "Let Israel now say," &c. The whole nation.
2. "Let the house of Aaron," &c. That whole consecrated tribe.
3. "Let them now that fear the Lord," &c. Proselytes, &c.
II. And thus, having given a general recommendation of his mercy, he descends to instance in what it consists; that is, God's great deliverance of him.
1. "I was in distress," &c. A frequent case with God's people, as well as with David.
2. "I called upon the lord," &c. I fled to him, not trusting in myself, and found mercy.
3. "The Lord answered me, and set me in a large place." This was the issue.
Upon which experience the psalmist exults, and attributes it to God's mercy.
1. "The Lord is my helper," &c. The Lord is for me, therefore I shall not suffer.
2. "The Lord takes my part," &c. I shall be in safety, while my enemies will be cast down, and the Church freed.
From which he deduces a third inference: - 1, "It is better to trust in the Lord," &c. He is both able and willing to help.
2. "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes." David found this in the case of Achish, king of Gath.
In a song of triumph he acquaints us in what dangers he was, and from which God delivered him. It is good then to trust in the Lord.
1. "All nations compassed me about," &c., but to no purpose.
2. "They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about," &c.
3. "They compassed me about like bees," &c. Angry, and armed with stings; but my trust is alone in the Lord. In his name, and by his help, "I will destroy them." He told us of a multitude of enemies; and for the overthrow of these he sang his triumph.
1. "Thou hast thrust sore at me," &c. I was in great danger; there was little hope of escape.
2. "But the Lord helped me." No help was in myself, but the Lord.
In the next verse he fully acknowledges the Lord as his strength.
1. "My strength." By which I resist my enemies.
2. "My salvation." To deliver me from my enemies.
3. "My song." Him whom I joyfully sing after my deliverance.
III. And that this song might be fuller, he calls for the whole choir to sing with him. His delivery concerned the whole Church, and therefore it must be sung by the whole Church; and so it was kept as a jubilee, a day of thanksgiving.
1. "The voice of rejoicing," &c. They congratulate their own safety in mine.
2. "The right hand of the Lord," &c. This anthem the whole choir sang.
Now this anthem was no sooner ended by the choir, than the psalmist took his harp again; and, exulting over his enemies, sings, "I shall not die," &c. Not be heart-broken, but "declare the works of the Lord." And among his works this is one: - 1. "The Lord hath chastened me sore," &c. Within have I struggled hard with sin; without have I been assaulted with bitter enemies.
2. "But he hath not given me over," &c. I acknowledge in this his fatherly affection.
IV. It is supposed that this Psalm was composed by David, in order that it might be sung when the people and the priests were assembled before the Lord, for the purpose of thanksgiving; we may, with Junius, form it into a dialogue.
1. David speaks of the priests and Levites who had the care of the tabernacle: "Open to me the gates," &c., that is, the Lord's house; "for I will go in to them," &c.
2. To this the priests reply, "This is the gate," &c. The sole gate of justice that leads to him.
David replies, showing in brief his reason: "I will praise thee," &c.; and to the twenty-eighth verse, he shows how God had settled him in his kingdom, making him "the head of the corner;" which words, though they refer to David, there is no doubt of their having reference also to Christ, of whom David was a type; and of Christ then I shall rather interpret them.
"The stone which the builders refused," &c.
1. The Church is sometimes in Scripture called a building; the saints are the living stones, and Christ is "the chief Corner-stone." 2. But the Jews, - the priests, to whom belonged the office of building the Church, refused this stone: "We will not have this man," &c.
3. But "he is become the head of the corner." And whoever is not connected with him cannot be saved. 1. "This was the Lord's doing," &c. That Christ became our salvation. 2. "And it is marvellous in our eyes." And so it ever must be, that Christ should die, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.
In commemoration of so great a work, a day should be set apart.
1. "This is the day," &c. Which without doubt was the day of the resurrection; the Lord making it a high and holy day.
2. "We will be glad and rejoice," &c. Adam's fall was a doleful day. On the day of Christ's resurrection we will be glad.
3. In the midst of our rejoicing we will pray, and sound forth Hosanna to the Son of David. This was done by the people on the entering of Christ into Jerusalem. It was the opinion of the Jews that this form of acclamation would be used before the Messiah.
The whole prophecy of Christ's coming, riding into Jerusalem in triumph, rejection, passion, &c., being thus explained, the prophet puts this into the mouths of the priests: - "We have blessed you." All true happiness is under this King.
2. "Out of the house of the Lord," &c. From out of the Church.
3. "God is the Lord," &c. Revealed unto us his Son as the Light of the world.
4. "Bind the sacrifice with cords," &c. Be thankful to him, and meet in the Church to celebrate your thanksgivings.
V. The prophet concludes with a doxology.
1. "Thou art my God," I have taken thee for my portion.
2. "And I will praise thee;" which he doubles: "Thou art my God, and I will exalt thee." Which repetition shows his ardent desire of evincing his gratitude.
And thus the psalmist concludes with the same exhortation with which he began the Psalm.
"O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." And let him that readeth, and him that heareth, say, Amen! THIS is an uncommonly fine Psalm, and among the many noble ones it is one of the most noble. Its beauties are so many and so prominent that every reader, whose mind is at all influenced by spiritual things, must see, feel, and admire them.
The 22nd verse, "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head stone of the corner," must have been a proverbial expression; but what gave birth to it I cannot find; but, like all other proverbs, it doubtless had its origin from some fact. One thing is evident from the Jewish doctors.
The most enlightened of them understand this as a prophecy of the Messiah; and it was this general opinion, as well as the knowledge that the Spirit of prophecy thus intended it, that caused our Lord to apply it to himself, Matt. xxi. 42; nor did any of them attempt to dispute the propriety of the application.