PSALM ONE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN/ ONE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN
Israel's Return To God Dramatized
[Pss 117:1] O praise Jehovah, all ye nations; Laud him, all ye peoples.
[Pss 117:2] For his lovingkindness is great toward us; And the truth of Jehovah (endureth) for ever. Praise ye Jehovah.
[Pss 118:1] Oh give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; For his lovingkindness (endureth) for ever.
[Pss 118:2] Let Israel now say, That his lovingkindness (endureth) for ever.
[Pss 118:3] Let the house of Aaron now say, That his lovingkindness (endureth) for ever.
[Pss 118:4] Let them now that fear Jehovah say, That his lovingkindness (endureth) for ever.
[Pss 118:5] Out of my distress I called upon Jehovah: Jehovah answered me (and set me) in a large place.
[Pss 118:6] Jehovah is on my side; I will not fear: What can man do unto me?
[Pss 118:7] Jehovah is on my side among them that help me: Therefore shall I see (my desire) upon them that hate me.
[Pss 118:8] It is better to take refuge in Jehovah Than to put confidence in man.
[Pss 118:9] It is better to take refuge in Jehovah Than to put confidence in princes.
[Pss 118:10] All nations compassed me about: In the name of Jehovah I will cut them off.
[Pss 118:11] They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: In the name of Jehovah I will cut them off.
[Pss 118:12] They compassed me about like bees; They are quenched as the fire of thorns: In the name of Jehovah I will cut them off.
[Pss 118:13] Thou didst thrust sore at me that I might fall; But Jehovah helped me.
[Pss 118:14] Jehovah is my strength and song; And he is become my salvation.
[Pss 118:15] The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous: The right hand of Jehovah doeth valiantly.
[Pss 118:16] The right hand of Jehovah is exalted: The right hand of Jehovah doeth valiantly.
[Pss 118:17] I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of Jehovah.
[Pss 118:18] Jehovah hath chastened me sore; But he hath not given me over unto death.
[Pss 118:19] Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will enter into them, I will give thanks unto Jehovah.
[Pss 118:20] This is the gate of Jehovah; The righteous shall enter into it.
[Pss 118:21] I will give thanks unto thee; for thou hast answered me, And art become my salvation.
[Pss 118:22] The stone which the builders rejected Is become the head of the corner.
[Pss 118:23] This is Jehovah's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.
[Pss 118:24] This is the day which Jehovah hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
[Pss 118:25] Save now, we beseech thee, O Jehovah: O Jehovah, we beseech thee, send now prosperity.
[Pss 118:26] Blessed be he that cometh in the name of Jehovah: We have blessed you out of the house of Jehovah.
[Pss 118:27] Jehovah is God, and he hath given us light: Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
[Pss 118:28] Thou art my God, and I will give thanks unto thee: Thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
[Pss 118:29] Oh give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; For his lovingkindness (endureth) for ever.
"Oh praise Jehovah, all ye nations;
I. A Vision Of Israel's Future Position In The World (Ps. 117)
Laud him, all ye peoples.
For his loving kindness is great toward us;
And the truth of Jehovah endureth forever.
Praise ye Jehovah. (Ps. 117:1-2).
As I have repeatedly stated, the Psalms are the poetical version of the Prophets. No one can understand a poem, no matter how beautiful and how excellently it may have been written, unless he is acquainted with the occasion of its being
written. When he understands the circumstances which gave birth to such a composition, he can feel the heart throb of the writer as he expresses himself in verse.
The Psalms fall into different categories. They must therefore be studied in order to determine their true nature. For instance, there are certain psalms which are individual, whereas others are national in their outlook. The recognition
of this distinction is imperative to the proper understanding of any psalm. Psalm 1, for instance, is individual and maybe appropriated to anyone, Jew or Gentile, who complies with the conditions laid down in it. Again, Psalm 23 is
individual in its nature and maybe claimed by anyone who sustains the relationship to God that David did. Once more, Psalm 24 is individual in the first six verses. The question is asked, "Who shall ascend unto the hill of Jehovah?
And who shall stand in his holy place?" The answer is, any individual who complies with the conditions laid down. But in verses 7-10 the outlook is national and applies to Israel, for it is a call to the nation of Israel to welcome
the return of her Messiah. Psalm 37, for instance, is a national hymn and applies to Israel alone. A study of the entire composition reveals this fact: This psalm is grounded upon Leviticus 26, which was spoken to Israel only. Not going
any further into this phase of our subject, I shall say that most of the psalms are national in their outlook, applying to Israel alone and not yielding themselves to the individual. For instance, Psalm 46 is of this nature. In this psalm
the nation of Israel is speaking to the Gentile world. The same thing is true with reference Psalm 67 and to many others.
Some of the psalms are historical, and others are prophetic. In the former class are included all those that deal purely with or celebrate some historical occurrence in the history of the nation or of an individual of the race. Psalm 78
is purely historical. Psalm 105 and 106 likewise are historical compositions relating to outstanding events in the history of the nation. Psalm 73, on the other hand, is individual and historic; for in it the inspired writer recounts his
experiences. On the other hand, many of the psalms are purely prophetic; in fact, the greater portion of them sing of the glories that await Israel in the future.
Most of the psalms are put in simple narrative form to be sung or read by an individual; but others are antiphonal and are to be sung responsively by a soloist and the choir, or by one group to another, each responding to the other.
Some are literal and others are symbolic. We are to consider a psalm as literal unless there are clear indications pointing to a figurative or symbolic character. Some few are dramatic and symbolic. For example, Psalms 117 and 118 are of
this natureespecially 118. Psalm 117 is but an introduction to Psalm 118. The latter is a pageant setting forth in a dramatic manner the return of Israel to her God
at the end of the Tribulation. Unless one understands this fact, this poem is but a jumble of words.
As we shall presently see, Psalm 117 sets forth the evangelistic campaign which will be conducted by the saved remnant of Israel after it has been overcome by the grace God and has recognized Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Psalm 117 stands in relation to 118 in manner similar to the way in which the headlines of well-written article do to the article itself. The headlines express the gist of the article and focus attention on the outcome of the event
concerning which it is written. Thus Psalm 117 gives the outcome of the journey over which the remnant of Israel travels in its return to God in the end time.
Psalm 118:1-4 gives the prediction of the evangelization of the entire nation of Israel with its proselytes. In verses 5-20 the personal pronoun I figures very largely. An examination of this portion of the poem shows that this
I refers to each individual constituting the nation of Israel of that time. This is seen very clearly in verse 10-12 where the sentiment is expressed that all nations compass me about. Nations cannot literally compass an
individual. This type of expression should not seem strange to us, when we remember that in our hymns appear the personal pronouns, I, me, and my very often, and that the entire congregation sings the hymn in unison. The
I therefore refers, not only to the individual, but to the entire group singing it. Thus it is with this passage; each individual in Israel at the time here foreseen will join in and express the sentiment of this composition. That
Israel at the time of the returning to God in the end time will be encompassed by the nations of the earth is clearly set forth in various portions of the prophetic word.
Another reason pointing to the fact that this psalm is symbolic in character is, as Delizsch intimates, that it was composed in celebration of the Feast of Passover in the seventh month of the first year of the return of the exiles from
Babylon (Ezra 3:1-4); or at the laying of the foundation stone of the Temple in the second month of the second year of the return (Ezra 3:8f); or at the dedication of the completed Temple in the sixth year of the reign of Darius (Ezra
6:15f). The leading conservative scholars see in this composition echoes of the events of one of these national occasions. The late David Baron, a master in Hebrew exposition, favored the symbolic interpretation. So does Perowne.
Rotherham confirms the same interpretation in the following words:
"It is obviously a processional psalm, and in the highest degree dramatic. The general course of it is clear; and the sound of several voices can be
plainly heard, though precisely who speaks in the several divisions of the psalm is, naturally, to some extent, a matter of conjecture. Our headlines will
therefore be accepted as exegetical suggestions, rather than as authoritative determinationswhich, in no case, could they pretend to be."
When a person notes that there is progress represented in verses 15-20, he will see that the entire situation in the psalm presents a processional. The nation is represented as being in distress and marching up to the Holy City. Finally,
the procession reaches the temple gate and calls upon the authorities to open it in order that pilgrims might enter. The response is given in verse 20 where the newly-arrived worshipers are told to enter the gate Jehovah. From verse 21 to
the end we observe the temple services and ritual as it is being enacted. Thus throughout the entire psalm there is set forth the thought of worshipers that journey to the national shrine, the Temple Jehovah, and engage in worship which
is accepted by the great God of the universe.
According to Franz Delitzsch, one of the greatest commentators on the Old Testament, at the Passover the pilgrims who journeyed to Jerusalem would sing the first nineteen verses of this psalm as they approached the temple area. They sang
verse 19 upon their arrival. The temple choir responded from within, pointing them to the gate through which they should enter. This they did and engaged in the ritualistic worship. There are indications in the writings of the ancient
rabbis that this psalm was thus used by the Jews in their worship, especially at the time of the Passover. According to David Baron and other Hebrew scholars Psalm 118 was the song which Jesus and His disciples sang at the conclusion of
the last Passover Supper. It is the last of the Hallel Psalms.
Every year at the Passover the various bands of devout worshipers journeyed to Jerusalem. They would sing this hymn, as suggested above, and would enter into the temple area with their sacrifices to offer them. In the ritual in which they
engaged appears a marvelous prediction concerning Israel's accepting her Messiah whom her leaders upon His first coming rejected: "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner." These facts are
sufficient to indicate that the psalm is symbolic, and that it was a processional and a dramatic representation of Israel's eventual return to her God and her Messiah whom she rejected. Thus, as she employed this hymn in her ritual
yearly, she was setting forth symbolically the greatest event in all her history. The meaning of the passage will become more apparent as we go forward in the exposition of each detail.
Someone has said that, if he should be allowed to write the songs and the music used by a nation, he would control the life of the people. Song and music do effect people greatly. The Lord knew the power of song. He therefore enshrined
Israel's theology in the Book of Psalms, which he was to use in her services in order to teach the truth to the people. The value and power of singing are set forth in the New Testament. For instance, Paul in the following passage
exhorted the Ephesians to edify and strengthen each other with spiritual song: "And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing
and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father subjecting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ" (Eph. 5:18-21). With these
introductory observations we are now prepared to study more minutely these two psalms, spiritual masterpieces.
We hear converted Israel calling to the nations in their great evangelistic campaign saying, "Oh praise Jehovah, all ye nations; Laud him, all ye peoples" (Ps. 117:1). There are certain teachings lying behind this psalm which
must be understood in order that one might be able to comprehend fully the message of this prophetic utterancethe shortest chapter of the Bible. In the light of these great and fundamental truths this hymn will be seen to set forth one
of the greatest facts in historythe conversion of Israel and her leading the residue of men to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
A. Israel Created for God's Glory and Appointed the Channel of World Blessing
"Now Jehovah said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name
great: and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee I will curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:1-3).
B. Israel Overcome by God's Grace
According to this passage God entered into a sevenfold covenant with Abraham. He promised to bless him and threatened to curse the one who mistreats him or his seed. He also promised to bless all who do good to the Hebrew people. The
special reason for this is the fact that the Jew has been created to become the channel of world blessing "... and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth blessed" (Gen. 22:18).
When Abraham and Sarah were past age of parenthood, the Lord performed a biological miracle upon their bodies which made possible the birth of Isaac. Isaiah, in referring to this fact, spoke of it as an act of creation: "But now thus
saith Jehovah that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine" (Isa. 43:1). In verse 21 of the same chapter Isaiah thinks of the Hebrew
race as "the people which I (Jehovah) formed for myself that they might set forth my praise."
The Lord has a plan which runs through the centuries and unfolds throughout all eternity of the future. He placed the Hebrew people in the center of this plan of the centuries and related all the nations of the earth to them, to whom He
gave the land of the Palestinethe center of the earth (Ezek. 38:12). That He did thus relate all nations to Israel is evident from Deuteronomy 32:8,9: "When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, When he separated the
children of men, He set the bounds of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel. For Jehovah's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." Thus the Lord, not only created the Hebrew race to
play the most important role in human history, but gave her the central position upon the stage of human activity and related all nations to her in order that she might carry out His plan of the ages.
Israel has never yielded to God in order that He might use her in the fullest way possible. Only a few courageous, pious, godly men and women throughout the long history of the race have yielded their lives and souls to God and have
become the channels of world blessings. For these, of course, we praise God. Humanly speaking, we are indebted to them for all the blessings that have come from God through them to us. But the time will come when all Israel of a future
day will yield to God and will become the channel of universal blessing. The Prophet Zechariah in vision saw this time and made the following revelation: "Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have
heard that God is with you" (Zech. 8:23).
In perfect alignment with this Old Testament teaching is that which is set forth in the seventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. In chapters 6-19 of this book we have a full and detailed description of the events that will occur during
this day of wrath, which will last for seven years. Chapters 6, 8 and 9, and 16 give the chronological order of events as they will occur in this time of Jacob's Trouble. Chapter 6 describes what will occur in the first quarter of the
period. Chapters 8 and 9 describe the judgments of the second quarter. But between these two chapters, in chapter 7, is a vision of 144,000 Jewish servants of God who are sealed out of the 12 tribes of Israel and who serve Him.
Immediately after we see this vision, there is given to us another one in which we observe and innumerable host of saved people from every nation, tribe, tongue, and language who turn to the Lord during the Tribulation, and wash their
robes, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. This number of saved people is so very great that no man by any method of computation can gather the statistics regarding them. From these facts we see that the world revival with all
its might and power breaks forth in the first part of the Tribulation, and that it will be conducted by these 144,000 Jewish "Pauls."
These evangelists, doubtless with many of their converts, will lead the entire nation of Israel to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at the end of the Tribulation. Then converted Israel will become the channel of universal blessing and
will lead all men to a saving knowledge of the Lord. At that time will be fulfilled the promise that was made to Abraham that in him and his seed "should all nations of the earth be blessed."
In the Revised Version we have in verse 2 this sentence: "For his lovingkindness is great toward us ..." This translation is possible, but a more literal and accurate rendering of the original is, "For His
lovingkindness has conquered, or overcome us ..." The principal here involved may be illustrated by Jacob's wrestling with the angel of Jehovah throughout one night when he was at the ford of the River Jabbok and account of
which is found in the following passage, "and he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two handmaids, and his eleven children, and past over the ford of the Jabbok. And he took them, and sent them over the stream, and
sent over that which he had. And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's
thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall
be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he
blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Penuel: for, said he, I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And the sun rose upon
him as he past over Penuel, and limped upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not the sinew of the hip which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of
the hip" (Gen. 32:22-32).
C. Israel Praying to Become a Blessing to the World
Throughout the night Jacob wrestled with the angel, though he did not know who he was. Doubtless the angel appeared to him as a robber or a bandit who had come suddenly upon him and who had seized him. Thus the wrestling match continued
throughout the night. Finally, at the break of day, when Jacob caught a glimpse of the angel, he recognized that he was wrestling with a supernatural being. When he realized this fact, he clung to the angel tenaciously, although the
latter insisted that he let him go. The angel in love and grace had wrestled with Jacob throughout the night and overpowered him. When Jacob realized these facts, he yielded to God. Then the angel changed his name to Israel, which
means God has conquered. From this meaning come the derived one, a prince of God. Thus, grace overcame him, and he became a prince of God.
This long night during which Jacob wrestled with the angel might illustrate to us the dark stormy night of Israel's dispersion while she is scattered among the nations. She was banished from her country, and her city was destroyed in
70 A.D. She has been groping her way in the dark for nineteen hundred years. This period will terminate with the Tribulation, which is called the time of Jacob's Trouble.
Throughout Israel's long night this same angel of Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ who is Israel's Messiah, has, figuratively speaking, been wrestling with the nation and endeavoring to overpower her by His grace, love, and mercy.
That He has thus been guiding the Chosen People, even though He has been seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on High throughout this dark night and has been steering the course of her history toward the great
consummation in the Tribulation, is evident from Psalm 80. In verse 1 of this hymn we have the following language: "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that sittest above the cherubim, shine forth." This is the opening sentence of a prayer that the people of Israel will utter when they see the truth concerning the Messiah, who is their
shepherd, and who has been leading them throughout this dark night of trouble.
Grace will have conquered the nation at the close of the Tribulation, for at that time the spirit of grace and of supplication will be poured out upon the remnant and it will in deep contrition of heart repent of the national sin,
together with all other transgressions, and look unto "me (Messiah) whom they have pierced." When grace conquers this remnant, there will be such a manifestation of genuine repentance as the world has never seen. "And I
will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and
shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family
apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of the Shimeites apart, and
their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart and their wives apart. 13 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness."
And excellent illustration in the New Testament of the overpowering grace of God is the Apostle Paul. He was an honest, conscientious, sincere man who had one objective in view; namely, to serve the true and the living God to bless
humanity. He was brought up a strict Pharisee and believed that which he was taught; however, he had an open mind and was eager for truth. God can deal graciously and bountifully with such a character. As he saw new truth, he stepped out
upon it. The loving-kindness, or grace of God, kept pursuing him. Finally he was brought face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. Grace overcame and overpowered him. He immediately yielded his life
to the Lord Jesus and entered His service most enthusiastically. In writing to the church at Corinth, he expressed his thanks to God, "who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest through us the savor of his
knowledge in every place" (II Cor. 2:14). The nation of Israel, the remnant, in the end of the Tribulation will be overpowered when they are brought face to face with the message of grace, truth, and love, will surrender to God, and
will accept the Lord Jesus Christ. Then they will let Him lead them around from place to place in triumph making known through them the savor of the knowledge of Himself in every place.
In Psalm 67 we have a petition, which at the same time is a prophecy, and which sets forth the attitude of mind and heart to which the remnant of Israel will be brought. Then they will ask God to be merciful to them, to cause His face to
shine upon them, "that thy way may be known upon earth, thy salvation among all nations." When the remnant comes to this conclusion, God's way and His salvation will not be known among all the nations, but Israel will
realize this fact and will utter this petition from the depths of her heart.
D. The Heart of Israel's MessageGrace and Truth
When Israel has thus been overpowered by God's grace, she will pray to the Lord that she may give forth this message. She will also proclaim to the world this conquering grace of God that has overwhelmed her and will likewise speak to
the peoples of the truth of Jehovah regarding its continuing forever.
The mention of grace and truth in our passage suggests the use of these terms in Psalm 57. Here the Psalmist David looks forward to the time when Israel will be persecuted and the judgments of God will be in the earth. Seeing this vision
and identifying himself with the generation of Israel at this future day, David declares that he would cry unto the God Most High, who performeth all things for him.
Then in verse 3 of this passage he speaks of how God will work for him and for the nation. Hear him: "He (God) will send from heaven, and save me, When he that would swallow me up reproacheth; God will send forth his lovingkindness and his truth." Here the king looked forward to a time when God will deliver the nation of Israel. In order to do that, He will send someone forth
from heaven. The one whom He will send is spoken of in these words "God will send forth his lovingkindness and his truth." According to this passage God will save Israel by His loving-kindness and truth which He sends forth from
heaven to accomplish the deliverance. Certainly loving-kindness and truth are not to be thought of as abstract virtues. The facts of the context demand that we understand them to be embodied in a person. Thus this one who comes forth from
heaven to deliver Israel will be the very embodiment of grace and truth. When however we turn to John 1:17, we immediately understand this prediction more perfectly. The Apostle John declared that law came through Moses, but grace and
truth through Jesus Christ. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ, the Hebrew Messiah, is grace and truththe very embodiment of thesewhom God will send forth to deliver Israel from her troubles when she is overcome by grace.
Thus being overcome and knowing in a personal experimental way the meaning of grace and truth as embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ and as affecting their lives, they will proclaim the truth to all nations and plead with them to come to
God, accept and worship Him.
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