Sunday, March 25, 2018

[Matt's Messages] “Blessed Is He Who Comes In the Name of the LORD!”

“Blessed Is He Who Comes In the Name of the LORD!”
Palm Sunday :: March 25, 2018 :: Psalm 118

We’re going to take 2 Sundays off of our study of the Gospel of Matthew to focus on what we often call “Passion Week” or “Holy Week,” the time between the Triumphal Entry of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on that donkey on Palm Sunday through to the Crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday and then the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the following Sunday.

You know why I picked Psalm 118, right?

I picked Psalm 118 for today because verses 25 and 26 are the words that the crowd shouted at Jesus as He rode that donkey into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.

Verse 25 starts with the words, “O LORD, save us.”

And the Hebrew there is “Hoshi ahna” which when transliterated into Greek becomes “Hosanna!”

And then verse 26–which is what the choir sang this morning and what Marilynn put on the front of your bulletin–is also the title of this message.

“Blessed Is He Who Comes In the Name of the LORD!”

That’s a long title, but it’s a good one.

It’s a Palm Sunday message.

My question this week was why did they shout these words out of Psalm 118 on that day?

And so I went back to study Psalm 118 which I’ve never preached before, and I said, “This is what I want to preach on this Sunday.”

Psalm 118 is a festive psalm. It’s obviously a happy, joyful, elated, ecstatic, rapturous song.

The people who are singing this song are clearly happy. They are worshipping and they have so much to be thankful for.

It could easily be a psalm that we used at Thanksgiving.

In fact, the ancient Israelites did use it at their Thanksgiving, the Feast of Tabernacles.

Interestingly, they also sung it during the Passover celebration.

Psalms 113-118 are called the “Egyptian Hallel” because they were full of praise to the LORD for Israel’s rescue from Egypt. And they were sung, all 6 of them, at the Passover.

You know at the Last Supper, when Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn before going out to the Mount of Olives, you remember that?

Well, this is the last hymn that was normally sung at the Passover, so it very likely was the song they sang as they left the Upper Room and went the Garden of Gethsemane.

Isn’t that interesting?

Now, we don’t know when this psalm was originally written or who wrote it.

It kind of sounds like King David, but his name isn’t on it like it is on others.

So it might be one that is in the style of David but written by someone else.

Many scholars believe that it was written for a specific major event in Israel’s history and to be used as part of the procession for a festival.

Many believe that it was written to be used in the dedication of the new temple after the exile in the book of Ezra (cf. Ez 3 & 6). We don’t know for sure.

I’d like to know, but I’m actually glad I don’t know.

Because with psalms like that, where you don’t know all of the historical details, it’s really easy to immediately feel how they relate to our lives today.

So many of these words are going to feel like you can apply them directly to your life right now. You can sing them right now!

Some of them won’t. There are a few strange features here that are very Hebrew and very Israelite. So we have to think about them in their original context before moving over to 2018. But it’s just a short mental jump.

Now, as I read it, I want to you to try to picture it in your mind.

I think there is a little bit of a movement here, a progression, as the psalm unfolds.

Verses 1 through 4 are an opening, and introduction, and I think you’re supposed to hear various people respond and sing out with their parts.

And then verses 5 through 18, there is like one major voice that speaks. And that could be the voice of the Israel together, but I think the singer is the King. A King David or a King like King David. And he sings his testimony.

And then in verses 19 through 27, what I think happens is that king reaches the gates of the temple and they sing about his entrance into the temple and about the worship procession marching right up to the altar and celebrating the salvation of God.

And then the lone voice sings out again basically the same thing that he started the song with it–thanksgiving to God for goodness and His unfailing love.

Did you hear the exuberance? Did you hear the joy?

Can you see why the happy pilgrims shouted from Psalm 118 when they thought that Jesus was their Messiah processing into town?

Here He comes!

“Blessed Is He Who Comes In the Name of the LORD!”

Did you hear all of the repetition?

This psalm is full of repetition.

It is incredibly full of repetition. (See what I did there?)

Starting with this first section. Verses 1 through 4.


The worship leader calls upon the people to respond with thanksgiving. V.1

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

And then he calls out to various people to say it with him. V.2

“Let Israel say: ‘His love endures forever.’

Let the house of Aaron [where the priests come from] say: ‘His love endures forever.’

Let those who fear the LORD [every believer] say: ‘His love endures forever.’”

You know what this is like?

It’s like a liturgy.

You next week, we tend to do a liturgy like they do all over the world.

Let’s practice right now.

I’ll say, “Christ is Risen.”

And what are you going to say?

“He Is Risen Indeed!”

Christ Is Risen.
He is Risen Indeed.

Christ Is Risen.
He is Risen Indeed!

That’s what the psalmist was getting going here with Psalm 118.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good”

And what do you say? “His love endures forever.”

Let Lanse Free Church, “His love endures forever.”

Let the Lanse Ladies say, “His love endures forever.”

Let’s the Men of Lanse say, “His love endures forever.”

Let all who fear the LORD say, “His love endures forever.”

That word “love” is the Hebrew word “hesed.” It means God’s steadfast love. His loyal love. His gracious love. His covenant love.

It’s the steadfast love that is new every morning. Like we learned about this Fall in Lamentations chapter 3.

The psalmist says that the LORD is good, and that we know it because His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out, it just goes on and on and on.

“His love endures forever.”

That phrase is repeated again and again in the psalms.

In fact, in Psalm 136, it’s repeated with every single verse.

You think that some of our worship songs get repetitive?

God loves repetitive worship songs! Just read Psalm 136!

“His love endures forever.”

That statement is worth repeating, amen?

And the psalmist is going to come back to it one more time at the end.

But first, he’s going to tell us some stories about God’s faithfulness.

One voice rises out of the crowd. I think it’s the king who is singing. Verse 5.

“In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free.”


The sing was in trouble. He was in distress. He was hemmed in and constricted. He was surrounded, but he called out to the LORD, and God answered by placing him in a spacious place. He set him free. He rescued him.

He’s got every reason to praise the Lord.

Now, catch all of the repetition in this section (verses 5 through 18), there’s a lot.

Look at verses 6 and 7.

“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.”

Sounds like David, doesn’t it? He says something very similar in Psalm 56 which gets quoted in Hebrews 13.

“The LORD is with me.”
“The LORD is with me.”

Do you sing that song to yourself?

That’s the song to sing when you are worried. When you are afraid. When you are tempted to be anxious and apprehensive and scared.

“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Well, a lot, right? Man can do a lot of things to us.

But what can they do, really? Nothing of consequence if the LORD is with us.

If God is for us...who can be against us?

“The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.”

If God is your helper then what can you expect but ultimate victory?

Now, that doesn’t mean that Christians can only expect victory. We know the Bible stories. We know how Paul was treated. We know how Job made out. We know what happened to our Lord on Good Friday.

But we also know what Paul expected. We know the very end of Job. We know what on Resurrection Sunday!

“The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.”

So therefore, verse 8 and verse 9.

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.”

Do you hear the repetition?

Which is better? To trust in men or to find your safe place in the Lord?

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD.”

He’s the only safe place. Men will let you down.

Which is better? To trust in princes? Politicians, nobles, leaders or to trust in the LORD?

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD.”

Politicians will inevitably on some level always let you down.

We don’t put our faith in government.

I have a friend who says, “Even the best of men are men at best.”

A some people are truly wonderful. But they all have feet of clay.

Not our Lord! He is completely trustworthy.

He is completely safe.

And He saved the singer. Verse 10.

“All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off.”

I would have loved to have heard this sung, in Hebrew, by the king.

The nations surrounded him. That’s why I think this is the king singing. Because it’s national. The Gentiles had him surrounded.

But he prevailed. He cut them off. He fended them off. How?

“In the name of the LORD.”

That means in the power of the LORD. Under the banner of the LORD.

Not on his own. Not in his own strength.

But in the name of the LORD.

It was scary. He was surrounded. It was a like a swarm of bees. Anybody?

But then they burned up like a thorn tree tossed on the fire. V.13

“I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. [Here’s Who He is:] The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

Do you feel it?

This singer knew just how dangerous a situation he had gotten caught in.

He just about fell, but the LORD came to His rescue.

So now the LORD is his strength, his song, his salvation.

The LORD is the theme of his life.

Does that sound familiar?

Does that sound like something you could sing?

You’re not a king, but if you are a Christian, you are a rescued person.

You are saved soul.

Verse 14 is a quote from Exodus 15. The song they sang after the Red Sea Rescue.

“The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

That’s what we sing if we are Christians, isn’t it?

That’s “Amazing Grace,” right?

“The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

And it’s everyone that sings, right? V.15

“Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The LORD's right hand has done mighty things! The LORD's right hand is lifted high; the LORD's right hand has done mighty things!’”


I love that repetition. It’s to put a exclamation mark on it.

Everybody sings. Everybody shouts!

“LORD’s right hand has done might things!”

Everybody is celebrating. Everybody is whooping it up.

God has given us the victory. God has rescued us.

He has become our strength. Our refuge. Our helper.

He has become our song. He is what we want to sing about. He is the theme of our lives.

He has become our salvation. He has picked us up and pulled us out. And saved us.

And the singer knows that he has everything to thank God for. V.17

“I will not die [not today!] but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done. The LORD has chastened me severely [I’ve suffered], but he has not given me over to death [I’m right here, praising the LORD!].”

That’s his testimony. And it’s why he’s here today to march up in worship to the temple and give a sacrifice of thanksgiving the LORD.

Do you feel it this morning?

Do you see all that you have to thank the Lord for?

Are you singing in your soul, “He has done great things! He has done great things! He has done great things. Bless His holy name.”

I think in this last section, we’re supposed to see the king ride up to the gates of the temple with all of the people gathered round. And he sings out verse 19.

“Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.”

And then either he sings again or the gatekeeper sings back verse 20.

“This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. [Whatcha gonna do here?]

I will give you thanks, for you [LORD] answered me; you [LORD] have become my salvation.”

That’s what I’m here to do! I’m here to bring thanksgiving to my Savior.

And nobody thought that I would make it. V.22

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

We’re going to come back to that next week.

Jesus fulfilled that one, too, didn’t He? He sure did. (We studied it in Sunday School today, too.)

But this time it’s the psalmist, probably the king, maybe David that sings it.

Everybody had rejected him. It looked like he was no good. Down for the count.

But instead, he’s been lifted up. And put in the most important spot.

And it was the LORD who did it.

“...the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

We can’t believe what we are seeing. But we are seeing it with or own eyes!

And so we sing on this day. V.24

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Not just any day, but this day. This day of salvation.

This day we celebrate our salvation.

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Do you feel how happy they are?
How thankful they are?

This is a Sunday morning worship service, isn’t it?

This is people getting their praise on because they know that they are saved.

And they know they have a Savior. V.25

“O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.”

“Hoshi ahna”

“Hosanna!” “O LORD, save us!”

Now by the time of Jesus, that phrase, “Hosanna” meant more than just, “Please save us.” It also meant, “I praise you because I know you’re going to save us.”

We know that God saves.

We know Jesus that you have come to save.

And we say, “Bless you!”  V.26

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.”

This isn’t the same kind of blessed as in the beatitudes.

This is the other kind.

This is not so much a state in which to be congratulated. It isn’t saying that this person is flourishing, though of course they are.

This is the word of blessing. This is God landing blessing on someone.

God bestowing His blessing on someone.

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.”

If you come in the name of the LORD (like the king who cut off his enemies in the name of the LORD (in verses 10, 11, and 12) then you are receiving the blessing of God.

And then I think the second sentence is a response back in song.

“From the house of the LORD we bless you.”

They are singing to each other.

I wonder if the Lord Jesus sang back to the people.

The Bible doesn’t say.

But He did say that if the people kept quiet, the stones would cry out.

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.”

And the singer says (v.27), “The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.”

Do you see the progression?

First the song, then the gates of righteousness.
Then the house of the LORD.
And now right up to the altar of sacrifice.

Verse 27 is hard to translate. You can see how in the NIV, they have branches in their hands. And that’s just like they did on Palm Sunday, right?

But you can also translate it, “Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar.” (ESV of Psalm 118:27b)

So the picture there is bringing the sacrifice, the lamb perhaps, all tied up and then up to the altar to be killed and his blood poured out as a sacrifice.

“Thank you, Lord, for your salvation!”

That’s where the psalm ends. With the same note of thanksgiving that it started with and was carried along with.


Verse 28.

“You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
[Say it!] his love endures forever.”

What does that altar make you think of?

The Cross, right?

Where the perfect Lamb of God was sacrificed in our place.

Not just a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

But a sin offering. A guilt offering.

Jesus sacrificed HIMSELF for us.

He was the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

So we have even more to be thankful for than the first singers of this psalm, don’t we?

Or at least we know more about what we have to be thankful for.

We know what it cost God to ultimately show us that His love endures forever.

We know now what it means for JESUS to be our strength, our song, our salvation.

So we can now give thanks and exalt the LORD like never before.

Because of Jesus.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.