Focus Passage: Psalm 118
We are called to rejoice in what God has and will continue to do in our lives. Psalm 118 is the last song of the Hallel section of the psalms and was probably the last psalm that Jesus sang as He left the upper room and went to Gethsemane to pray. He was hours from the cross and yet He could rejoice. Where are you? Are you like Jesus with a great burden that you must face? Are you one who has just come through a tough time and are rejoicing that God has or will bring you through the tough times? This psalm reminds me that it is the Lord who helps us navigate the ups and downs of life. God helps us so that we reach the end with joy. The simple truth is that those who trust in the Lord will have happier endings.
Always give thanks to the Lord v. 1 It is a time of celebration. This psalm probably was written during the time of Nehemiah when the walls of Jerusalem had finally been built. The walls of Jerusalem are up and the city has safety for the first time in decades. People of Israel give thanks to your Lord. When I was a child, this was our table prayer after every meal. The prayer is more than just thanks. It is a statement of confidence that the Lord loves us and will not forget us. We are to give thanks even when times are tough. Like the Jews, we know that the Lord has a plan. We know that the Lord takes care of those who trust in him and believe in him.
Trust the Lord in every crisis v.8 In their trials they cried to the Lord and he answered them by setting them free from the bondage that they faced first in Egypt and now at the hands of those who oppressed them. They had learned how it was better to trust in God than to trust in men or even in themselves. Just because you get through one problem doesn’t mean that life will be problem-free. We can not control the future. We are surrounded by people and circumstances that bring us pain and harm. All of these things are bigger than we are. You can’t protect yourself. Rejoice, trust in the Lord and seek Him as your guardian. Satan may try to cause us pain, but the Lord will bring us through that pain.
Glorify the Lord after every victory v.21 Open the gates to the temple that we may come and worship you. The people of God as one voice raised their voices so that the whole world would know of the greatness of their Lord. Here is another call in the psalms to praise the Lord. Come and worship him with other Christians and recount what the Lord has done. Let others know how the Lord cares for his people so that they may rejoice with you. Thanks will not be silent; it will proclaim God’s deeds so all may see our God. We know the true source of our blessing is the Lord. God is the one we trusted in during our distress. God has brought us to this place.
God gives us a reason to rejoice v.24 Most people don’t enjoy feeling glum. It is no fun for most of us to spend hours worrying about problems or about recounting them to others. We want to dance and sing and tell people about the good things that are happening to us. Such joy comes when we think of the end instead of the middle. It is no fun to work hard to fix a sink or study for a test. Yet that is easier if we envision the project complete or a good grade in a tough class. It is not where we are, but where we finish that matters. As Christians, we have even greater joy for we can think of God and the future that He brings. Keep your eyes on the end and especially on what the Lord is doing so you can rejoice. Rejoice, those who trust in the Lord and follow Him will have many happier endings.