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Psalm 118:19-27 – The Stone That the Builders Rejected


An individual enters the temple to give thanks for deliverance. It is a marvelous day!


Psalm 118 is a liturgy for a festival in the midst of which one person enters and gives thanks for God's salvation. This gives occasion for all to sing and praise God. In the laments, pray-ers promise to come and tell of God's deeds in the midst of the great congregation (the community at worship) once they are delivered. Now we see that happening. The gates open to admit the one giving thanks (vv. 19-21), and all are stirred to song because of his deliverance (vv. 22-24). The act is especially significant since the one God has restored had been held in little regard: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone" (v. 22). Now the congregation provides its own blessing for the one God has delivered (vv. 26-27).

This song of thanksgiving for God's deliverance of one deemed unimportant--a deliverance that brought life and rejoicing to all--was picked up often in the New Testament to point to God's work in Christ. Jesus, telling a parable, seemed to describe himself as "the stone that the builders rejected" and called this "the Lord's doing" (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10-11; Luke 20:17), while later sermons also speak of Jesus as the rejected stone that is now exalted (Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7). "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord" is sung by the crowds on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9; Luke 19:38). This remarkable concentration of New Testament citations of these few verses suggests that they were well known to the Jewish people of that time and that they were seen to apply to Jesus with remarkable clarity. The rejected one was delivered, and in his deliverance all people find reason to praise and to hope for their own salvation (Psalm 118:25).

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
   that I may enter through them
   and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord;
   the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me
   and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
   it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
   let us rejoice and be glad in it.*
25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
   O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.*
   We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
   and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
   up to the horns of the altar.*

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