By Ed Twedt
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
What a beautiful psalm. It divides easily into three parts. Verses 1 through 4 are about community, verses 5 through 21 are about the individual, and verses 22 through 29 are about the worshipping community. The psalm also uses the personal name of God (YHWH) 28 times within its brief 29 verses, a strong reminder of who is the central focus in this psalm. In each of the first four verses we are reminded that God’s “steadfast love endures forever.” As if that isn’t enough reminding, the psalm ends with that same reminder. God’s “steadfast love endures forever.” Could any words more powerfully point us to the culmination of the season of Lent? Perhaps the most powerful message of all is found in verse 22 in the beginning of the worshipping community section. There we read of the stone which the builders rejected becoming the chief cornerstone. This passage is frequently repeated in the New Testament, for example, Matthew 21:42, Acts 4:11, and 1 Peter 2:7, all references to the Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder this beautiful psalm fits so beautifully into the Lenten season.
As I read this psalm I can’t help but think of how similar Advent and Lent are. They are both anticipatory, they are both filled with sorrow and joy, and they both point us to our Lord and Savior. Now we look back at them with the eyes of hindsight, but we still can feel the enormous strength and encouragement they bring to us. Just as we looked forward to the coming of our Lord into human history as a little baby, now we look forward to His coming to us, our risen Lord. So with all the darkness that one might suppose is found in the season of Lent, we know there is light, God’s light. Thus it is that the psalmist tells us, “O give thanks to YHWH for he is good.”