"This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118:24
Many of us may have heard this verse over long years. But often, with some of these most popular verses, they can become so familiar to us that we may even miss the deeper meaning and context under which they are written.
So what is the “day” that Psalm 118 makes reference to? Is it the general “every day” that God gives us, or is it referring to a specific day in history?
In Psalm 118, the author is writing about incredible adversity. It's not written when times are good, but when times are really hard. Situations were changing. The Psalmist cried out to God in anguish, he was surrounded on all sides by the enemy. He felt pushed back, and about to fall. Yet right in the midst of huge struggles shared, this chapter both starts and ends with the same verse, of giving thanks and praise unto God.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever." Psalm 118:29
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The Significance of Psalm 118
Such a powerful reminder to us: True joy is never dependent on our circumstances. And though we may know this in our head, it might be hard to walk out every day. Learning to choose joy in hard times takes effort and action on our part; it requires our hearts to be set on Him. God is faithful to help us so that we can choose well. And we can be assured that in His grace, He has made every day, and for that gift itself we can “rejoice and be glad in it.” No matter what we face, we can still believe in God’s goodness and love, for that’s what carries us through the most difficult of seasons.
And in taking a closer look at the verses surrounding this truth, we can find even greater insight into what God may be saying. This verse and those surrounding it are actually prophecies of Christ’s coming.
“This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me, you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” - Psalm 118:20-24
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How We See Jesus and the Gospel in Psalm 118
Jesus is that gate through which all of us can be saved. He referred to these exact words in verses 22-23 when He spoke of being rejected by His own people (Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11, Luke 21:17). Yet Jesus still became that “capstone,” the “cornerstone,” which is known as the most important part of the church (Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6-7).
The capstone is the very center stone at the top of an arch; it is truly what holds all the other pieces together. Without it, the arch would definitely fall. And so it is with us. Jesus is so crucial for our lives today. Without Him we would surely fall, He is the only One who can put back together all the broken pieces of our lives. He is the One who is the capstone of the church, the body of Christ, both now and forever.
The Psalmist goes on to refer to this day that the Lord has made, and many agree that this is a direct reference to Christ, especially within the framework of the verses given. The arrival of Christ on earth paved the way for us to be free, His gift of salvation was offered to us all through His sacrifice on the cross. Jesus was victorious over death and sin, and He rose again, reminding us that the door is open for us all through faith in Him.
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The Prayer and Promise of Psalm 118
The Psalm continues with this, “O Lord, save us, O Lord, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 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.” Psalm 118:25-27
These words may sound familiar because some of them are also repeated in the Gospels with Christ’s triumphant journey into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19). People shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and waved their branches high. A prophecy fulfilled. They welcomed Christ into their city and worshipped before Him. All of this, just days before their hearts would turn against Him, and He would lay down His life for the world.
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The Interesting Location of Psalm 118 in the Bible
It’s interesting to note also where this chapter is located in the Bible. In the very center. And isn’t that just like God? The central chapter of His entire word points to His Son, Jesus. The Bible reminds us that Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and that “no one comes to the Father, except through Christ,” (John 14:6). Then doesn’t it make sense that this central place in His word gives us the answer in how to live out our lives with the freedom and joy He alone can offer?
We’re reminded again through these powerful truths, that this day, every day, we’re alive in this life, is really not “all about us.” Sometimes we forget that. It’s easy to get caught up in the cycles of busyness and responsibilities. Maybe even unintentionally, we start to lose our focus and forget our calling. We want to do the right thing, yet our hearts are far away. We go through struggles and feel like God’s not listening. We want to live for Christ, yet our time in His word seems minimal, and too many distractions get in the way of our prayers. But as believers, we know that our lives are hidden with Christ in God, and because of that, every day is “His” day. He is gracious and compassionate. And He breathes His purpose and light through the sunrise of each new morning.
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"This is the day the Lord has made!" Applied to Your Life
We might be facing the toughest of times right now, but the truth is this, He's still given us breath for today. Jesus came to give us hope and freedom, He’s the very reason we can live with joy right in the battles and have peace that is unexplainable to the world. He's with us and will never leave or fail us. His love covers us, He gives us the strength to face every trial and obstacle with courage and grace. We can rest in the security that Truth brings.
No matter what you’re up against, be confident in God’s unchanging love for you, always. And it is written, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Peace to you all, as you live this day with His huge power and grace.
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's Facebook page, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also on Twitter and at her blog, www.debbiemcdaniel.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy-to-read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within the Scripture context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
"Be Still and Know that I Am God"
"Pray Without Ceasing"
"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made"
"Faith Without Works is Dead"
"Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart"
"All Things Work Together for Good"
"Be Strong and Courageous"
"Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go"
"Love Your Neighbor as Yourself"
"Take Every Thought Captive"
"Do Not Fear"
"God is Love"
"Eye for an Eye"
"Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"
"I Can Do All Things Through Christ"
"The Lord is my Shepherd"
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Originally published Monday, 27 June 2022.