Psalm 118 (117) : 1 - 2, 14 - 24 ( NRSV )

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!(1)
Let Israel say, "His steadfast love endures forever."(2)...
The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.(16)
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.(17)...
The stone that the builders rejected 1
has become the chief cornerstone.(22)
This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.(23)
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it."(24)


     A song of thanksgiving and praise for God's mercy and power. The psalmist regularly bears witness to the surprising gift of new life just when none had been expected. The Hebrews can voice a song of thanksgiving, because YHWH is the one who hears and answers their expression of hurt and grief. It is YHWH, who resolves the experience of disorientation.
     The speaker affirms the intervening action of YHWH to give life, in a world where death seems to have the best and strongest sway. The song is not about the natural outcome of trouble, but about the decisive transformation made possible by this God who causes new life where none seems possible.
     Christians interpret the Easter events in terms of a continuity of God's transforming action. God took the "rejected one" (v.22) and made Him the foundation of the new Christian structure. The earliest preaching of the resurrection, found in this psalm the Christian community's interpretation of Jesus.
Psalm 118 is a thanksgiving liturgy accompanying a victory procession of the king and the people into the temple precincts. After an invocation in the form of a litany (vv.1-4), the psalmist (speaking in the name of the community) describes how the people confidently implored God's help (vv.5-9) when hostile peoples threatened its life (vv.10-14); vividly God's rescue is recounted (vv.15-18). Then follows a dialogue at the temple gates between the priests and the psalmist as the latter enters to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice (vv.19-25). Finally, the priests impart their blessing (vv.26-27), and the psalmist sings in gratitude (vv.28-29).
1. [ v.22 ] The stone that the builders rejected: A proverb: what is insignificant to human beings has become great through divine election. The 'stone' may originally have meant the foundation stone or capstone of the temple. The New Testament interpreted the verse as referring to the death and resurrection of Christ (Mt.21:42; Ac.4:11; cf Is.28:16 and Rm.9:33; 1 Pt.2:7).

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