118(117) : 2 - 4, 22 - 27 ( NRSV )

Let Israel say,
"His steadfast love endures forever."(2)
Let the house of Aaron say,
"His steadfast love endures forever."(3)
Let those who fear the LORD say,
"His steadfast love endures forever."(4) . . ,
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)
Save us,2 we beseech you, O LORD!
O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!(25)
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.
We bless you from the house of the LORD.(26)
The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.(27)

Comment

     For the speaker of the psalm, the expression of gratitude is not something casual, but rather a dramatic public assertion of the source, trust and goal of one's life! The psalmist speaks of deliverance from distress.
     For the early Christian community, God worked a newness against all the evidence of hopelessness and all the data about the power of death! God shatters the known world, in order to establish new possibilities. Christians take the best Hebrew expressions of this faith in God's power for life-giving and reaffirm it by repeating the psalm.
     Community experience bears out what the speaker affirms. Like the Hebrew people in the past, the Christian community witnessed a transformed reality, because God heard and answered the cry of the hurting and grieving one (Jesus) and came to His aid (raised Him up)! Christians interpret the Easter events as continuing YHWH's transforming action. God took the rejected one (Jesus) and made Him the foundation of the new community!
footnotes:
PSALM 118 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 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).
2. [ v.25 ] Save us: The Hebrew for this cry has come into English as "Hosanna." This cry and the words in v.26 were used in the gospels to welcome Jesus entering the temple on Palm Sunday (Mk.11:9-10).

 

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