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Thanksgiving for the Lord’s loving goodness
Psalm 118:25-26 A poem and a prophecy in a jubilant exclamation focused on God
“O Lord, do save, we beseech You; O Lord, we beseech You, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord; We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.”
Psalm 118:25-26 NASB1995
It may take me many years, but eventually I expect that I’ll work my way through writing devotionals for all of the verses in all 150 psalms! I must admit that I love reading them and learning more about their meaning, and thank God and the psalmists every time one is selected for the daily devotional.
Today’s verses come from Psalm 118, which is titled “Thanksgiving for the Lord’s loving goodness.” As the psalms were poetry meant to be chanted or sung, it’s fitting to read these in the original Hebrew (transliterated in English letters for clarity):
ānnā' Yᵊhōvâ yāšaʿ nā' 'ānnā' Yᵊhōvâ ṣālēaḥ nā'
bāraḵ bô' šēm Yᵊhōvâ bāraḵ bayiṯ Yᵊhōvâ
The word Yᵊhōvâ should be familiar to Christians. We pronounce it “Jehovah” (meaning “of the Lord” or “the existing one” — i.e., God). A few other words in these two verses — ānnā' has the meaning “O” (as in “O, Lord”), nā' means “we beseech you”, and bāraḵ is “blessed”.
Enough of Hebrew school 101, although I personally found it fascinating! In verse 25, the psalmist pleads for salvation for the people of Israel. The Hebrew word for “save” (yāšaʿ, pronounced “yaw-shaw”) has many meanings, all of which point to God’s preservation of His chosen — “to be liberated, be saved, be delivered, be victorious”. Add the next word (nā', meaning “now”), and we get the words yāšaʿ nā' (yaw-shaw-na or “save now”) familiar to us as “hosanna”. That’s what the people of Jerusalem shouted as Jesus made His triumphant entry into the city!
Here the psalmist pleads to God for salvation as well as prosperity for His people. The Hebrew ṣālēaḥ (pronounced tsaw-lakh') can mean “to rush”, but here is used to mean to advance, prosper, make progress, succeed, be profitable. Verse 25 is a short, poetic prayer for God’s salvation and for Him to let His people prosper. In some ways, it can also be seen as a prophecy of Jesus entering Jerusalem.
The parallels continue. The words that start Verse 26 — “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” — are found in the Gospels of Matthew (21:9), Mark (11:9) and John (12:13) as the other words shouted by those who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. We have the same hosannas and blessings in this psalm (written between 1010 and 930 B.C.) that were used to welcome the Messiah and King a thousand years later. Other verses in Psalm 118 also foretell Jesus being welcomed with open gates (verse 19) and being the chief cornerstone that would be rejected (verse 22)! The last phrase in verse 26 points to those in the temple court blessing those who are arriving with Jesus.
Psalm 118 is a jubilant exclamation focused on God, expressing joy, gratitude, admiration, and praise. The Lord is mentioned in almost all of the 29 verses. The psalm is a wonderful piece of Scripture to ponder when you’re feeling exceptionally thankful for God’s blessings!
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Today’s prayer is actually a commentary on Psalm 118 by none other than Martin Luther. I hope that you take Luther’s comment to heart and read the Psalm before moving from Heaven On Wheels to the rest of your day. He loved this psalm more than any other, saying:
“This is my own beloved psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life, I fell in love with this psalm especially. Therefore I call it my own. When emperors and kings, the wise and the learned, and even saints could not aid me, this psalm proved a friend and helped me out of many great troubles. As a result, it is dearer to me than all the wealth, honor, and power of the pope, the Turk, and the emperor. I would be most unwilling to trade this psalm for all of it.” (Martin Luther, cited by James Montgomery Boice)