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'He turns the desert into pools of water' Psalm 107:35


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This is the Day the Lord has Made

“This is the day the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

The words from Psalm 118 written above are some of the most encouraging in all of Scripture. They speak of God’s ongoing creativity as the new day we experience is a gift from him. We are encouraged to rejoice in this day because it brings fresh opportunity to partner with God for his purposes.

Matthew 26:30 tells us that immediately following Jesus’ observance of the Passover meal with his disciples, they “sung a hymn” and departed for the Mount of Olives where he was to be arrested. This is fascinating because the Jews traditionally sang Psalms 113-118 as part of the Passover celebration. It follows then, that the words of Psalm 118 were some of the last that Jesus ever sang.

Read in this light, the words of this Psalm stand in stark contrast to the emotions that Jesus was surely beginning to feel about what the next 24 hours held in store for him. Consider a few of the following lines from Psalm 118:

“What can man do to me?”

“I shall not die, but live.”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.”

“This is the day the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

A Psalm filled with wishes for deliverance sound more like wishful thinking and words of denial in light of the cross.┬áBut Jesus’ use of this Psalm in view of his most stressful life (and death) experience ought to give us a whole new appreciation for a song often reserved for our best days.

Jesus teaches that it is “better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in men” even when that refuge is a cross. This is true because, despite popular belief, death is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Jesus’ holistic view of deliverance included his own death. The road from distress to deliverance inevitably winds through the valley of the shadow of death. But it does not end there. Not for the ones who approach the day of their mortal demise in light of God’s greater purposes.

Jesus is able to live (and die) in this manner because of the truth that bookends Psalm 118: “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” God is not responsible for every senseless death that takes place. But he, in his steadfast love, has taken responsibility for setting all things right through his Son.

As we discussed this Psalm at our friends’ house recently, I was unaware that the cross pictured below was hanging on the wall behind me. It is a perfect representation of what Psalm 118 is all about. “This is the day the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Even when that day includes a cross.

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Photo courtesy of Meghan Teel

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