Christianity 201

June 17, 2014

Familiar Verse in Context: This is the Day

It’s been six months since we borrowed something from Mike Leake at the blog Borrowed Light. This is the second in what promises to be a series of “most shared verses.”  To read this at source, click here. To continue to follow the series as new entries are added, save this link.

At the end of last year, YouVersion highlighted the top 10 Bible verses that were shared the most. I found the list interesting and thought that it could be helpful to understand them in their original context. Today we are looking at Psalm 118:24—which according to YouVersion was the most shared verse in 2013.

The Verse:

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24 ESV)

The Context:

Psalm 113-118 are known as the Egyptian Hallel. These psalms were typical sang during Passover and other festivals. It is quite likely that Psalm 118 would have been the last song that Jesus sang with his disciples before going to the Garden of Gethsemane.

This Psalm is a call to worship God for his steadfast love and faithfulness. And his steadfast love and faithfulness is shown through his establishing of a king. Note that right before Psalm 118:24 is a verse that is oft-quoted in the NT.

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Also note that 118:26 was shouted by the people during the triumphal entry of Jesus. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD!”

Clearly, then, Psalm 118:24 ought to be read in light of the exaltation of God’s King. We see this ultimately fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Meaning:

The key question of this text is, “what is ‘the day’ in which the Lord has made”. Surely it is theologically correct to say that the Lord creates every day and that every day ought to move us to worship. But is this text actually pointing to another ‘day’?

Some interpreters have this pointing to the Sabbath. (Spuregon was one of them). Personally, I believe that in the immediate context this is pointing to the day of the particular festival as a reminder of the goodness of the Lord in establishing his king. But this too is pointing to something even greater; namely, the establishment of Jesus Christ as the Eternal Davidic King.

So, what does it mean for us when we say, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”? I don’t know that one is wrong in celebrating each day as from the hand of the Lord. But I believe even more profoundly that this verse ought to draw us to thanksgiving to God for Christ being the established King. It is because of this event that we can truly rejoice in every day that the Lord has made.

As Christ left the upper room, singing with his disciples, “This is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it” he knew everything that ‘this day’ would include. And yet it was for the joy set before him that he endured the Cross. And it is because of this same joy set before us that we can rejoice every day.

His King is in Zion. Today and Forever. Let us rejoice and be glad!