Psalm 118

The Word Made Fresh

1Give thanks to the LORD, for God is good,
and God’s love is never ending.
2Let the people of Israel say,
“God’s faithful love is everlasting!”
3Let the priests, the descendants of Aaron, say,
“God’s faithful love is everlasting!”
4Let all who respect the LORD say
“God’s faithful love is everlasting!”
5For when I was in distress I called out to the LORD,
and the LORD answered me and rescued me.
6I am not afraid, for the LORD is with me.
What can anyone do to me?
7The LORD is on my side and takes up my cause,
and I will triumph over those who hate me.
8It is better to depend on the LORD
than to have confidence in people.
9It is better to depend on the LORD
than to have confidence in royalty.
10I was surrounded by all these other nations,
but in the LORD’s name I held them off.
11They gathered against me on every side,
but in the LORD’s name I resisted them.
12They swarmed around me like bees, stinging like briars,
but in the LORD’s name I held them off.
13I was hard pressed, to the point of collapsing,
but the LORD rescued me.
14The LORD is my strength. The LORD is my song.
The LORD is the One on whom I can depend.
15Listen! Songs of victory are coming from the camp of God’s army:
“Helped by God’s right hand we have fought bravely!
16Helped by God’s right hand we have been victorious!
Helped by God’s right hand we have been courageous!”
17So, I shall not die this day,
but I shall live to tell what the LORD has done.
18The LORD put me through the trial,
but did not let me be killed.
19So, open the temple gates, the ‘Gates of Righteousness,’
and I will go in and give thanks to the LORD.
20This is the gate of the LORD,
and those who are righteous may enter through it.
21I give you thanks for answering me.
You have become my savior.
22The stone rejected by the builders
now is the cornerstone that holds up the entire building.
23This is what the LORD has done,
and it is a wonderful thing to behold.
24This is the day the LORD has made,
a day in which we should rejoice and be glad.
25Rescue us, LORD! Give us success!
26Those who come in the LORD’s name are rewarded.
From the LORD’s house we honor you.
27For you, LORD, are our God who gives us light.
So, bring branches in a joyful procession
up to the horns of the altar.
28You are my God. I give you thanks.
You are my God. I honor you.
29Give thanks to the LORD, for God is good,
and God’s love is never ending.


1: The theme of God’s steadfast love continues. God’s love brackets this psalm – the last verse will echo the first. Psalm 118 is the last of the six Hallel (praise) psalms (Psalms 113-118) used by the Jews for the observance of Passover. It is a song of thanksgiving for victory, although it is impossible to relate it to a particular battle recorded in the Bible.

2-4: The psalm is remarkable for its use of repetitions such as “God’s faithful love is everlasting” in these verses. The summons is first to Israel (the nation), then to the house of Aaron (the priesthood), and finally to those who fear the LORD (foreigners who worship Israel’s God).

5-9: Here is the reference to victory, which was achieved because “the LORD is on my side.” The repetition in verses 8 and 9 is a notable element of the psalm.

10-14: The author describes the battle, how the enemy closed in on them from every side. But each time, “in the LORD’s name I held them off!” – again in triplicate.

15-20: Another triplet is involved in the description of the victory celebration: “helped by God’s right hand.”

21-25: Here the author raises his personal thanksgiving for the victory. This strophe contains two important and familiar verses. Verse 22, “the stone rejected by the builders now is the cornerstone,” is quoted by Jesus (Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17), and although in the psalm the cornerstone is likely intended as a reference to Israel, in the New Testament it is taken as a reference to Jesus (Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6). Verse 24 has become the call to worship used at the beginning of many church services throughout Christianity.

26-27: A festal procession is described, celebrating the victory God has granted.

28-29: The psalm ends as it began, with thanksgiving. Verse 29 is a repetition of verse 1.


Haven’t you had days when it seemed you were surrounded by things that threatened to undo you? The witness of Psalm 118 is that “God’s faithful love is everlasting.” Today is a good day to remember those times in your life when it seemed the whole world was arrayed against you. “This, too, shall pass” is a good mantra to guide you through those times.