We have here an illustrious prophecy of the humiliation and exaltation of our Lord Jesus, his sufferings, and the glory that should follow. Peter thus applies it directly to the chief priests and scribes, and none of them could charge him with misapplying it, Acts 4:11. Now observe here,
I. The preface with which this precious prophecy is introduced, Ps. 118:19-21. 1. The psalmist desires admission into the sanctuary of God, there to celebrate the glory of him that cometh in the name of the Lord: Open to me the gates of righteousness. So the temple-gates are called, because they were shut against the uncircumcised, and forbade the stranger to come nigh, as the sacrifices there offered are called sacrifices of righteousness. Those that would enter into communion with God in holy ordinances must become humble suitors to God for admission. And when the gates of righteousness are opened to us we must go into them, must enter into the holiest, as far as we have leave, and praise the Lord. Our business within God’s gates is to praise God; therefore we should long till the gates of heaven be opened to us, that we may go into them to dwell in God’s house above, where we shall be still praising him. 2. He sees admission granted him (Ps. 118:20): This is the gate of the Lord, the gate of his appointing, into which the righteous shall enter; as if he had said, “The gate you knocked at is opened, and you are welcome. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Some by this gate understand Christ, by whom we are taken into fellowship with God and our praises are accepted; he is the way; there is no coming to the Father but by him (John 14:6), he is the door of the sheep (John 10:9); he is the gate of the temple, by whom, and by whom only, the righteous, and they only, shall enter, and come into God’s righteousness, as the expression is, Ps. 69:27. The psalmist triumphs in the discovery that the gate of righteousness, which had been so long shut, and so long knocked at, was now at length opened. 3. He promises to give thanks to God for this favour (Ps. 118:21): I will praise thee. Those that saw Christ’s day at so great a distance saw cause to praise God for the prospect; for in him they saw that God had heard them, had heard the prayers of the Old-Testament saints for the coming of the Messiah, and would be their salvation.
II. The prophecy itself, Ps. 118:22, 23. This may have some reference to David’s preferment; he was the stone which Saul and his courtiers rejected, but was by the wonderful providence of God advanced to be the headstone of the building. But its principal reference is to Christ; and here we have, 1. His humiliation. He is the stone which the builders refused; he is the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, Dan. 2:34. He is a stone, not only for strength, and firmness, and duration, but for life, in the building of the spiritual temple; and yet a precious stone (1 Pet. 2:6), for the foundation of the gospel-church must be sapphires, Isa. 54:11. This stone was rejected by the builders, by the rulers and people of the Jews (Acts 4:8, 10, 11); they refused to own him as the stone, the Messiah promised; they would not build their faith upon him nor join themselves to him; they would make no use of him, but go on in their building without him; they denied him in the presence of Pilate (Acts 3:13) when they said, We have no king but Caesar. They trampled upon this stone, threw it among the rubbish out of the city; nay, they stumbled at it. This was a disgrace to Christ, but it proved the ruin of those that thus made light of him. Rejecters of Christ are rejected of God. 2. His exaltation. He has become the headstone of the corner; he is advanced to the highest degree both of honour and usefulness, to be above all, and all in all. He is the chief corner-stone in the foundation, in whom Jew and Gentile are united, that they may be built up one holy house. He is the chief top-stone in the corner, in whom the building is completed, and who must in all things have the pre-eminence, as the author and finisher of our faith. Thus highly has God exalted him, because he humbled himself; and we, in compliance with God’s design, must make him the foundation of our hope, the centre of our unity, and the end of our living. To me to live is Christ. 3. The hand of God in all this: This is the Lord’s doing; it is from the Lord; it is with the Lord; it is the product of his counsel; it is his contrivance. Both the humiliation and the exaltation of the Lord Jesus were his work, Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28. He sent him, sealed him; his hand went with him throughout his whole undertaking, and from first to last he did his Father’s will; and this ought to be marvellous in our eyes. Christ’s name is Wonderful; and the redemption he wrought out is the most amazing of all God’s works of wonder; it is what the angels desire to look into, and will be admiring to eternity; much more ought we to admire it, who owe our all to it. Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness.
III. The joy wherewith it is entertained and the acclamations which attend this prediction.
1. Let 2983 the day be solemnized to the honour of God with great joy (Ps. 118:24): This is the day the Lord has made. The whole time of the gospel-dispensation, that accepted time, that day of salvation, is what the Lord has made so; it is a continual feast, which ought to be kept with joy. Or it may very fitly be understood of the Christian sabbath, which we sanctify in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, when the rejected stone began to be exalted; and so, (1.) Here is the doctrine of the Christian sabbath: It is the day which the Lord has made, has made remarkable, made holy, has distinguished from other days; he has made it for man: it is therefore called the Lord’s day, for it bears his image and superscription. (2.) The duty of the sabbath, the work of the day that is to be done in his day: We will rejoice and be glad in it, not only in the institution of the day, that there is such a day appointed, but in the occasion of it, Christ’s becoming the head of the corner. This we ought to rejoice in both as his honour and our advantage. Sabbath days must be rejoicing days, and then they are to us as the days of heaven. See what a good Master we serve, who, having instituted a day for his service, appoints it to be spent in holy joy.
2. Let the exalted Redeemer be met, and attended, with joyful hosannas, Ps. 118:25, 26.
(1.) Let him have the acclamations of the people, as is usual at the inauguration of a prince. Let every one of his loyal subjects shout for joy, Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord! This is like Vivat rex—Long live the king, and expresses a hearty joy for his accession to the crown, an entire satisfaction in his government, and a zealous affection to the interests and honour of it. Hosanna signifies, Save now, I beseech thee. [1.] “Lord, save me, I beseech thee; let this Saviour be my Saviour, and, in order to that, my ruler; let me be taken under his protection and owned as one of his willing subjects. His enemies are my enemies; Lord, I beseech thee, save me from them. Send me an interest in that prosperity which his kingdom brings with it to all those that entertain it. Let my soul prosper and be in health, in that peace and righteousness which his government brings, Ps. 72:3. Let me have victory over those lusts that war against my soul, and let divine grace go on in my heart conquering and to conquer.” [2.] “Lord, preserve him, I beseech thee, even the Saviour himself, and send him prosperity in all his undertakings; give success to his gospel, and let it be mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong-holds and reducing souls to their allegiance to him. Let his name be sanctified, his kingdom come, his will be done.” Thus let prayer be made for him continually, Ps. 72:15. On the Lord’s day, when we rejoice and are glad in his kingdom, we must pray for the advancement of it more and more, and its establishment upon the ruins of the devil’s kingdom. When Christ made his public entry into Jerusalem he was thus met by his well-wishers (Matt. 21:9): Hosanna to the Son of David; long live King Jesus; let him reign for ever.
(2.) Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers, do their part in this great solemnity, Ps. 118:26. [1.] Let them bless the prince with their praises: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Jesus Christ is he that cometh—ho erchomenos, he that was to come and is yet to come again, Rev. 1:8. He comes in the name of the Lord, with a commission from him, to act for him, to do his will and to seek his glory; and therefore we must say, Blessed be he that cometh; we must rejoice that he has come; we must speak well of him, admire him, and esteem him highly, as one we are eternally obliged to, call him blessed Jesus, blessed for ever, Ps. 45:2. We must bid him welcome into our hearts, saying, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; come in by thy grace and Spirit, and take possession of me for thy own.” We must bless his faithful ministers that come in his name, and receive them for his sake, Isa. 52:7; John 13:20. We must pray for the enlargement and edification of his church, for the ripening of things for his second coming, and then that he who has said, Surely I come quickly, would even so come. [2.] Let them bless the people with their prayers: We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. Christ’s ministers are not only warranted, but appointed to pronounce a blessing, in his name, upon all his loyal subjects that love him and his government in sincerity, Eph. 6:24. We assure you that in and through Jesus Christ you are blessed; for he came to bless you. “You are blessed out of the house of the Lord, that is, with spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), and therefore have reason to bless him who has thus blessed you.”
3. Let sacrifices of thanksgiving be offered to his honour who offered for us the great atoning sacrifice, Ps. 118:27. Here is, (1.) The privilege we enjoy by Jesus Christ: God is the Lord who has shown us light. God is Jehovah, is known by that name, a God performing what he has promised and perfecting what he has begun, Exod. 6:3. He has shown us light, that is, he has given us the knowledge of himself and his will. He has shined upon us (so some); he has favoured us, and lifted up upon us the light of his countenance; he has given us occasion for joy and rejoicing, which is light to the soul, by giving us a prospect of everlasting light in heaven. The day which the Lord has made brings light with it, true light. (2.) The duty which this privilege calls for: Bind the sacrifice with cords, that, being killed, the blood of it may be sprinkled upon the horns of the altar, according to the law; or perhaps it was the custom (though we read not of it elsewhere) to bind the sacrifice to the horns of the altar while things were getting ready for the slaying of it. Or this may have a peculiar significancy here; the sacrifice we are to offer to God, in gratitude for redeeming love, is ourselves, not to be slain upon the altar, but living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), to be bound to the altar, spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, in which our hearts must be fixed and engaged, as the sacrifice was bound with cords to the horns of the altar, not to start back.
4. The psalmist concludes with his own thankful acknowledgments of divine grace, in which he calls upon others to join with him, Ps. 118:28, 29. (1.) He will praise God himself, and endeavour to exalt him in his own heart and in the hearts of others, and this because of his covenant-relation to him and interest in him: “Thou art my God, on whom I depend, and to whom I am devoted, who ownest me and art owned by me; and therefore I will praise thee.” (2.) He will have all about him to give thanks to God for these glad tidings of great joy to all people, that there is a Redeemer, even Christ the Lord. In him it is that God is good to man and that his mercy endures for ever; in him the covenant of grace is made, and in him it is made sure, made good, and made an everlasting covenant. He concludes this psalm as he began it (Ps. 118:1), for God’s glory must be the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, of all our addresses to him. Hallowed by thy name, and thine is the glory. And this fitly closes a prophecy of Christ. The angels give thanks for man’s redemption. Glory to God in the highest (Luke 2:14), for there is on earth peace, to which we must echo with our hosannas, as they did, Luke 19:38. Peace in heaven to us through Christ, and therefore glory in the highest.