“For He is Good: His Goodness to Deliver”
Matthew Hoskinson, Pastor of Ministry Vision
Download a pdf of the notes here.
Please turn to Psalm 118. Palm Sunday begins what Christians have traditionally called Holy Week. I’m sure many of you are making plans both personally and in your homes to celebrate the cross and the resurrection throughout the week. Certainly I hope you are planning to be a part of the Good Friday service during which we will remember the Lord’s death. This morning I want to turn your attention to what was probably the last psalm Jesus sang before he was betrayed. As I read, I want you to pay attention to how the psalmist uses repetition to drive home certain points about God and our response to him. Let’s read Psalm 118. Read text. This is the word of our God.
Setting of the psalm: Egyptian Hallel, last psalm sung after Passover meal, “a ‘royal song of thanksgiving for military victory’ that later was incorporated into a processional liturgy” (Watts, CNTUOT, 207).
Theme of the psalm (note inclusio [v. 1 and v. 29]): give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. Imperative grounded in indicative. Two truths about God (his goodness and his eternally loyal love) prompt the response of thanksgiving.
Transition: We’ll focus today on God’s goodness, specifically, two ways in which we experience his goodness. This morning let’s ponder His Goodness to Deliver.
1. His Goodness to Deliver
A. Structure of the Psalm
1. Call to Worship (vv. 1-4)
o “We have a glimpse of how the congregation saw itself, as made up of lay Israelites, priests (the house of Aaron) and God-fearers in general—the latter perhaps a term for both the former groups, but perhaps an acknowledgement of non-Israelite converts, who were an element in Israel from the beginning” (Kidner, 441).
2. The Lord’s Deliverance (vv. 5-18): in three stanzas
o Stanza 1 (vv. 5-9): Delivered from Distress, emphasis on God’s presence
o Note the interchange between God’s character and our response
• his goodness and steadfast love — I called on the LORD (5a)
• he answered me and set me free (5b)
• the Lord is for me (6a) — I will not fear (6b)
• the Lord is for me as my helper (7a) – I will triumph (7b)
• Application to wives: showing the glory of God.
o Wisdom statement (vv. 8-9): take refuge in the LORD
• “All make this acknowledgement, and yet there is scarcely one among a hundred who is fully persuaded that God alone can afford him sufficient help” (Calvin, 6.380).
• Illustration of looking to the next election to fix what you think is wrong with this nation. How many times have you thought that this week? Democrats felt that way about 2008, Republicans feel that way about 2010. Princes will not help!
• What would this look like? “That man has attained a high rank among the faithful, who, resting satisfied in God, never ceases to entertain a lively hope, even when he finds no help upon earth” (Calvin, 6.380).
o Stanza 2 (vv. 10-12): Delivered from Impossible Circumstances, emphasis on God’s power
o all the nations (10): evidence that this is a Davidic king’s “triumph over the encircling hostile nations” (Watts, CNTUOT, 207).
o His circumstance and God’s deliverance
• His circumstance repeated: surrounded
• Even the fourfold repetition gives the image of the psalmist looking in every direction and seeing the enemy closing in
• His circumstance illustrated
• bees = an old image (of the Amorites in De 1.44) depicting a swarm of countless, angry enemies
• fire = “brings out the unnerving closeness and fury of the attack” (Kidner, 449)
• His deliverance repeated: in the name = by the power
• His deliverance illustrated
• Suddenly the image shifts (they go out like a fire among thorns): “such a fire burns out as suddenly as it flares up, and the power of evil will turn out to be as short-lived as it was fierce” (Kidner, 449)
o Application: Some of you are right here (e.g., health, jobless, afflicted with doubts, sin). Deliverance won’t come from you. He delivered Jesus; will he not deliver you? (more…)