Psalm 118, since I must pick one for this blog, is like a good Shepherd’s Pie or an Irish boiled dinner (I have to throw at least one St. Patrick’s Day reference in here!). This psalm covers a lot of the ground in my walk with God, and starts with the very thing I am more and more reminded that I lack in my daily life: thankfulness. Then, the comforting and awesome knowledge that God is good, and His love goes to “infinity and beyond!”
Psalm 118 reminds me of the first day I asked for forgiveness and that “he answered me by setting me free” (v. 5). It reminds me that I am not alone--ever! “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid...he is my helper” (v. 6). If my priorities are messed up, I receive a quick jolt of reality with verses 8 and 9. When I am tempted to stray or placed in a difficult situation, verses 13-14 encourage me with God’s strength and care. I am again reminded, “He is my salvation” (v. 14).
I don’t have to doubt my future, according to verse 17: “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” Psalm 118 prophesies about Jesus, the author of salvation: “ The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (v. 23).
Verse 24 contains the little ditty we sing in church, say to one another, and preach to ourselves: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Verse 25 is a short prayer that reveals the tension we live in: “O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.” I need saving from my own version of success. But, I am blessed whenever I go out “in the name of the Lord” (v. 26).
Psalm 118 closes with the tasty morsels (or Irish pint, depending on your preference) from its beginning: who the Lord is (God), His creation and power, His being worthy of thanks and glory, His forever love, and His goodness (v.28-29).
I was reminded by a friend yesterday by a prayer traditionally attributed to St. Patrick (but probably not written until 300 years after he ministered in Ireland), and this portion of his beautiful words sums up Psalm 118’s message:
“I arise today 〜 Through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s hosts to save me 〜 From snares of the devil, from temptations of vices, from every one who desires me ill, Afar and near 〜 Alone or in a multitude."