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We Will Rejoice and Be Glad

Dean Simonson | The Voice of Zion April 2023 --


The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:15–24


Throughout Psalm 118, we are drawn to the voice of the Psalmist, who is thought to be King David. We picture the king and his armies going out to battle against enemies. The battle was fierce, but the king prayed for God’s protection and trusted that God would help him. God blessed the king and his army with victory over their enemies.


Praise to God for Protection

Upon his return to his home city, this narrator of the psalm is greeted with rejoicing by the people. They join with the Psalmist in exclaiming the power and might of the right hand of God. God used His power to protect His people. The writer here, as one who was saved, declares that he has been saved to speak of the works of God. Even though he had been through much suffering, God preserved his life. So he commands, open up to me the gates of righteousness. He desires to enter into God’s house, so that he can give thanks and praise unto God.


Perhaps the Psalmist is being prophetic when he refers to the stone which the builders refused. Certainly we know that Jesus would not be accepted by His own people, but rather would be looked down upon and even rejected by them.


Lastly, in our text, the Psalmist shows his joy and thankfulness for God’s love and protection. What God has done for him and his people is marvelous in their eyes. God has blessed this time in their lives, for which they will rejoice and give thanks unto Him. God does not forget His own, but He gives them strength to face the enemy and to do battle with them.


Voice of Rejoicing

This psalm is also a clear reference to our Lord and Savior Jesus. The words of the writer certainly served as a hymn of thankfulness and a realization of his place in God’s creation. It would also seem that when the message so closely ties to the sacrificial work of Jesus, that the author and the congregation of that time believed in that same message.


The writer notes how the “voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous.” When God’s children were able to gather, with comprehension and understanding that Jesus had died according to God’s plan, and that His death meant their sins had been paid for, they were able to rejoice and be glad. At Easter time, when God’s children gather to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection, we feel joy and the mood is festive. This is because we are celebrating the fact that we can believe that our sins are forgiven and washed away through the shed blood of our Lord and Savior. The “voice of rejoicing” is sung in the hymns of Easter and the voice of salvation is spoken in the sermons that remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice.


The Right Hand of the Lord Is Exalted

When Jesus was cross-examined by the chief of priests and the scribes, He told them, “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). Peter and the other apostles, in defense of their continued preaching of God’s Word in Jerusalem, said, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Jesus, when He was raised up into heaven, was placed at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19), a position of power and might. From this position He is empowered to carry out God’s judgment on all people.


The Psalmist marvels at the power and the wonderful works of God: “the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly” (or as the NIV states, “the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”). He continues, marveling at the fact that “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” When a person is able to understand that his or her sins are forgiven, it is a joyful matter. The power of sin is no longer a worry. Now the person can rejoice that he or she is heaven acceptable. With this joy in one’s heart, the desire is to proclaim of God’s goodness and share the message of the gospel with others.


What then is the cause for such happiness? “The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.” The Word of God had rebuked him; his conscience was troubled over sin. Perhaps, in his troubled state, he had felt despair, seeing only the fires of hell in his future. But what relief is felt when he realizes that God has not allowed him to travel down that path, but rather, he has been pulled away from it and can now travel on the way of life.


Our Sins Are Washed Away

The Psalmist requests that the “gates of righteousness” be opened so that he may enter in and “praise the Lord.” When sins have been washed away in the blood of Christ, one wishes to give thanks to God. This is keenly felt by those who have entered God’s kingdom from unbelief. The desire to give thanks and rejoice is close, because God has washed away faults and sins and given them hope of heaven.


All the joy and hope that we have as sinners come about because of the merit works of Jesus. He came into the world to save humankind from sin, but many of the people of His time could not see Him for who He was. It is the same today. “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner” (v. 22). Jesus is the foundation upon which our faith is built.


For this wonderful gift of faith, and for the joyous hope of heaven through having one’s sins forgiven, we can be glad and give thanks unto God. We join in the words of the writer: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

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