Friday, March 30
Psalm 118 is one of the most joyous, affirming psalms in the Bible. If you ever feel fearful or doubtful, read this one. The three repeated lines “The right hand of the Lord…” in verses 15-16 is how the psalmist refers to how God acts on Earth, and lead directly to the affirming “I shall not die, but I shall live.” Does this line mean living well in this life, or living in the next? Biblical scholars tell us that the Hebrews were not as preoccupied with life after death as we are, so it may refer to how people live on Earth. Maybe the psalmist meant living with a glad heart and doing God’s will. The psalm probably does have historical roots, God freeing the Hebrews from the Egyptians and the Babylonians.
The familiar and beloved “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” was certainly familiar to Jesus. We think of him as the prime one who came and comes in God’s name.Jesus referred to Psalm 118 in Matthew 21:42, where he spoke of the stone that the builders rejected.
The psalm’s reference to a festal procession up to the “horns of the altar” refers to actual hornlike protrusions from the four corners of Hebrew altars. People seeking refuge would grasp the horns. Exodus has detailed explanations about how to build altars and the horns. The psalm probably refers to a procession and a feast of “the tree houses”. Jews sing this joyous psalm at Passover, Christians at Easter. For Christians, the stone the builders threw away refers to Jesus.
-Submitted by June Moroney
The phrase “bind the festal procession with branches up to the horns of the altar” was certainly on the minds of those who would follow Jesus into Jerusalem and up to the Temple. Take a moment to say a blessing for those who entered your life “in the name of the Lord.”