The Rejected Stone
(22) The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. (23) This is Yahweh’s doing. It (is) marvelous in our eyes. (24) This (is) the day which Yahweh has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (25) O Yahweh, deliver us, we pray! O Yahweh, cause us to prosper, we pray! (26) Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh! We bless you from the house of Yahweh! (27) Yahweh is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. (28) You (are) my God, and I will praise you. (You are) my God. I will exalt you. (29) Give thanks to Yahweh, for (he is) good, for his steadfast love (endures) forever.
In this concluding segment of Psalm 118, repetitions include the name, “Yahweh,” occurring eight times along with “God” (Elohim) found three times to emphasize its focus on worship. Of particular note are the two exclamatory prayers which both follow the pattern, “O Yahweh + imperative + we pray” (vs. 25) and the repeated declarations, “You (are) my God and I will praise/exalt you” (vs. 28). The psalmist employs the same exhortation which opens the psalm to close it (cf. vss. 1 & 29).
This final segment of Psalm 118 is inextricably linked with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, an event recorded for us in all four Gospels (Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:29-38; Jn. 12:12-16). As Jesus rode into the city on the back of a donkey’s colt, the crowds shouted quotations from this psalm, specifically, the exclamation, “Hosannah,” translated “deliver us” (vs. 25) and the statement, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh” (vs. 26).
I. Yahweh delivering us by means of the rejected cornerstone (22-26)
II. Praising Yahweh whose love endures forever (27-29)
Because of Yahweh’s delivering us by means of the rejected cornerstone, we rejoice in his steadfast love.
The irony expressed in the first verse compels us to wonder how those so-called expert builders could have rejected a stone that would became the chief cornerstone. A general answer is found in Isaiah’s prophecy: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Is. 55:8 & 9). A more specific answer is given us two chapters earlier in Isaiah 53 which portrays the unexpected sacrifice of Messiah.
At his first coming, God’s servant was despised and rejected because he came not to rule but rather to bear our sins and carry our sorrows. In this atoning work, God provided us with what we are reluctant to admit that we need, redemption and reconciliation. Israel stumbled at the thought of Messiah needing to die as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins in order to restore us to fellowship with God. God’s people wanted a dynamic leader, someone who would impress the world and quickly establish his dominance over the nations. No wonder the nation rejected the stone who came the first time in abject humility but would eventually become the chief cornerstone. Only Yahweh could have accomplished something so “marvelous,” so unthinkable from a human standpoint.