Psalm 118:1 begins, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” Why do we give thanks to the LORD? Doesn’t He already know how good that He is? As vv 1–4 call the people to give thanks for his steadfast love, vv. 5–9 call on the LORD as our helper and refuge who brings His personal yet powerful deliverance in vv. 10–13. And as we as we dig into Psalm 118, we see that as we give thanks, the LORD becomes our salvation (118:14–16), reverses our rejection (118:17–24), and hears our prayer for salvation (118:25–27).
As we give thanks, the LORD becomes our salvation (118:14–16). The refrain to give thanks to the LORD begins and ends this Psalm (118:1, 29), yet there is a change that happens as we give thanks to the LORD. When he is our strength and song, he becomes our salvation (118:14); when we sing to God for our strength, then we find that His power brings our salvation. This is supremely seen in God’s deliverance at the Red Sea (Exod 15:6) but continually seen in the lives of those who sing to the LORD for strength! As a result, we must sing to the LORD for our strength so that we might see Him as our salvation.
Not only does the LORD become our salvation, but the LORD reverses our rejection (118:17–24) as we give thanks to Him. Verses 17–18 begin with a confident declaration that life, not death, will not prevail despite the deathly discipline that the Psalmist experiences. Instead, the Psalmist confidently enters into the presence of the LORD with thanksgiving, and the stone that the builder rejected becomes the cornerstone (117:22). Only the LORD can reverse our rejection. Just as the LORD took the rejected son David to become king over Israel, so the LORD takes the rejected stone Jesus to become the cornerstone of a new temple. The death of the cross become the birth pangs of new life. Therefore we must never despair at the deathly situations that we face, but we give thanks as we wait for the power of our God to reverse our rejection. No matter how deadly or destructive the situation is, we can give thanks to the LORD who reverses our rejection.
As a result, we give thanks to the LORD and hears our prayer for HIs salvation (118:25–27). When we know that the LORD “has become my salvation” (118:14), then we gain confidence and strength to cry out to him and ask for his salvation (118:25). But hasn’t the LORD already saved us? Yet our previous encounters with His saving power give us confidence to cry out for His ongoing power to save. And we look for the way that He will bring His salvation (118:26) and cause His light to shine upon HIs people, even as we offer up our sacrifices to Him.
So what? Psalm 118:28–29 conclude with a resolve to give thanks unto the LORD. And let us give thanks to Him because of how the LORD becomes our salvation, reverses our rejection and hears our prayer for salvation.