Psalm 118 begins and ends on a notion of praise.
The nation of Israel is in a state of rejoicing. Enemies have been defeated and God’s people are in a heightened state of gratitude. The writer seeks to highlight both the gratitude and the reason for praise – God’s unending love. In fact, the writer specifically repeats a certain phrase five times, first at the beginning of the chapter and then at the end. “His faithful love endures forever.”
This is not the only passage in the Bible that speaks to God having an enduring love for His people. God has been described as having an “everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3) and a love that is not contingent upon any external force (Romans 8:37-39). The reason we even understand love is because of God (1 John 4:19).
Psalm 118 is a significant passage because it underscores God’s love but also provides an example of people turning to God in response and giving Him thanks. This entire passage can be read as praise and mentions specific examples of God’s provision. This passage in particular is important to modern-day Christians because it highlights how faith in God guarantees victory.
This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made Meaning
Unlike the other books in the Bible, the Book of Psalms has at least 7 different known authors. David wrote most of the psalms, but there are 50 other passages without confirmed authorship. We witness this very fact with Psalm 118 as a passage with no attributed author. There are some who believe David authored this psalm, but there is no conclusive evidence. Interestingly, this chapter within the Old-Testament occurs in the middle of the Bible itself. The same number of chapters appear before and after Psalm 118, depending on the Bible version.
This psalm opens with an invitation to different people to give praise to God. The psalmist invites the Nation of Israel, the House of Aaron, and even Gentiles to offer thanks (Psalm 118:1-4). In those same verses, the writer says why. “His faithful love endures forever.” The chapter continues, and the psalmist highlights more reason to give praise.
God is described as a “helper” whom the psalmist depends on for defense from the enemy (Psalm 118:7). Their ability to find comfort in God is so pronounced that for them, God is a “refuge” (Psalm 118:8). In the tenth verse, the writer says, “All the nations surrounded me.” This sentiment is echoed through Christian history where people have been persecuted for their faith, most notably Jesus. Despite the persecution and attacks from others, the Lord has delivered the psalmist. This does not mean that Christians have not and will not suffer or die, as Jesus did, but in the end, God’s plans supersede the enemy.
That truth is shown through Jesus’ resurrection and the Great Commission He gave the disciples, reminding them, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). No matter what obstacles a believer faces, God is always present. The psalmist knows this. That sense of God’s companionship is mentioned further into the passage also. “I will give thanks to you because you have answered me and have become my salvation” (Psalm 118:21). God’s love exists in this present life and will be available later in Heaven also.
The Lord has supported the psalmist in dealings with others and also within themself (Psalm 118:18). As mentioned in the beginning, God’s love does not end. Thus, God’s love continuing after a natural death is only logical. There is a shift in tone toward the end of this chapter. Instead of praising God for the present day and what He has done, the thanks turns to praise for what God will do (Psalm 118:25). The psalmist offers blessings to God in advance before the blessing comes! This reveals their trust in God to deliver His people always.
Many of the Psalms have motifs such as suffering, or hope. The writer of Psalm 118 repeatedly expresses gratitude for God’s love. Throughout the entire passage, the tone is consistently positive and appreciative of God. The rejoicing is also not limited to the psalmist’s praise. In addition to the praise invitation given in the beginning, the psalmist speaks from a group perspective in verse 25. “Lord, save us! Lord, please grant us success!” God’s blessings are not reserved for one person, but for an entire nation. This verse can be interpreted as an invitation for later generations of Christians to beseech God for the same sort of blessings that the psalmist experienced then. The very last line is a final reminder of God’s everlasting love.
Read Psalm 118 – This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made Context
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.
Let Israel say, “His faithful love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say, “His faithful love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say, “His faithful love endures forever.”
I called to the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me [and put me] in a spacious place.
The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
With the Lord for me as my helper, I will look in triumph on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in nobles.
All the nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I destroyed them.
They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I destroyed them.
They surrounded me like bees; they were extinguished like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord I destroyed them.
You pushed me hard to make me fall, but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.
There are shouts of joy and victory in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand strikes with power!
The Lord’s right hand is raised! The Lord’s right hand strikes with power!”
I will not die, but I will live and proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord disciplined me severely but did not give me over to death.
Open the gates of righteousness for me; I will enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous will enter through it.
I will give thanks to You because You have answered me and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
This came from the Lord; it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Lord, save us! Lord, please grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.
The Lord is God and has given us light. Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will give You thanks. [You are] my God; I will exalt You.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.
(Psalm 118 CSB)
What Is the Day That the Lord Has Made in Psalm 118?
In Psalm 118, we read a number of memorable verses that are often quoted within Christian communities, including verse 24. “This is the day the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it.”
The day the Lord has made can be interpreted in two ways: first as today, present day. Secondly, this can be interpreted as the day of deliverance. The first interpretation results from the clear context of the passage. The writer here is giving God thanksgiving for His blessings, past, present, and future. As the psalmist sings their own praise, they also invite others into thanksgiving. With this in mind, the day the Lord has made is currently happening. The psalmist does not suggest delaying praise for any reason. If God’s love “endures forever” then the psalmist wants to offer praise in the now.
The second interpretation of that verse makes sense because the psalmist mentions praise that will be given to God now and upon receiving deliverance. The Lord is constantly making the day, and the psalmist knows a day of deliverance is not a question. The day of deliverance is inevitable, and thus God deserves praise. Both then and now.
Why Should Christians Rejoice in ‘This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made’?
There are a few lessons Christians can be reminded of today when reading over Psalm 118.
If the psalmist wants to offer praise for a blessing yet to be received, then they must be confident in God’s ability. As with other passages such as Psalm 126:5, there is no indication given to discern when God will deliver. That lack of knowledge does not impede upon the praise given to God in this chapter. The same should apply to Christians today. Even without knowing when, we can rest assured that God delivers His people because He always does.
The psalmist briefly mentions trust early in the chapter. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humanity. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in nobles” (Psalm 118:8-9). Go deserves more trust than people. Why? His love endures forever. Even without the life of Jesus yet to be lived, the psalmist believes in God. Thus, believing in God for Christians today should theoretically be easier because we have accounts of Jesus, but also accounts of people like the psalmist believing even without knowing Jesus in the same way.
Recognizing God’s love as an unyielding presence in our lives will remind us that no matter what we face, God is always by our side (Romans 8:37-39). The truth about God’s love enduring forever is mentioned throughout the Bible. The more we commit to believing and remembering His love, the less influence our enemies (internal or external) will have over our lives. Instead, we will be able to live more often like the writer of Psalm 118, rejoicing in God’s deliverance, and being happy with the day the Lord has made. Always.
- EnduringWord.com, ‘Psalm 118 – The Chief Cornerstone‘
- LearnReligions.com, ‘Psalm 118: The Middle Chapter of the Bible‘
- OverviewBible.com, Who Wrote the Bible?