Two Psalms for Easter

Lately I’ve been publishing a series of Psalms on this blog. With Easter Sunday quickly approaching, I began a search to find the Psalms that are often quoted for Easter. Two Psalms that were prominent (among several) in the results from my search are Psalm 16 and Psalm 118. Psalm 16 was written by David, and while the author of Psalm 118 is not named, “there is reason to believe it was [authored by] King David” (quote source here).

In an article published on April 7, 2020 on PorticoArlington.org titled, Preparing for Easter: Psalm 16 (the author’s name is not mentioned), the article states:

Psalm 16:1-11 is a Psalm that is uniquely helpful in preparing for Easter Sunday. This might not be obvious upon a first reading of this Psalm, (or even a second!), however, both Peter and Paul clearly understood the application that this Psalm had for the resurrection of Christ.

In Acts 2:25-28 Peter uses the text of this Psalm as a primary text for hisPentecost Sermonwhen he is discussing the impossibility of Jesus being held in death. The LORD had promised David an imperishable inheritance, and Christ is that inheritance! For Peter, Jesus is clearly the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise that David is claiming in Psalm 16.

In Acts 13:35, Paul also references this Psalm to show the continuity of the Old Testament promise of good news and the New Testament fulfillment of that good news in Jesus Christ. Here, we see one of the many ways that Jesus is greater and better than David, namely that he did not see corruption. David ultimately failed to be a pure hearted King, Jesus, on the other hand, is the perfect King that Israel had longed for. The evidence of Jesus’ purity is the resurrection. Death could not hold him because he was righteous.

Now that we have seen how this Psalm is pointing to Jesus and finds its fulfillment in him, let’s consider the ultimate hope of this Psalm. David’s hope is connected to the presence of the LORD. The presence of the Lord brings refuge (Psalm 16:1), community (Psalm 16:3), provision and sustenance (Psalm 16:5), beautiful inheritance (Psalm 16:6), wisdom (Psalm 16:7), stability (Psalm 16:8), joy (Psalm 16:9), eternal security (Psalm 16:10), eternal pleasure (Psalm 16:11). All of these blessings come with the presence of the LORD and they are ultimately dependent on God fulfilling his promises to David. If the promises rest on the faithfulness of David, there is no hope of these blessings. And if we pursue the blessings apart from the only faithful servant, our hope is fading at best.

This Easter Sunday, perhaps more tangibly than many of us have experienced before, we can direct our hearts to the only place where an undefiled hope can be found: to the presence of the LORD in Jesus and by the power of the Spirit. (Quote source here.)

Here are the eleven verses in Psalm 16 (ESV):

A Miktam of David.

1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Regarding the second psalm, Psalm 118, in The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik, teaching pastor at Calvary Chapel SB, Bible teacher, and author of the The Enduring Word Bible Commentary, he begins his comments on this psalm with the following (his entire commentary on Psalm 118 is available at this link):

Psalm 118 does not name an author in its title, but there is reason to believe it was King David, the Sweet Psalmist of Israel. Ezra 3:10-11 suggests that Psalm 118 was sung at the founding of the second temple, and when they sang it, they attributed it to David (“according to the ordinance of David king of Israel,” Ezra 3:10).

“Most probably David was the author of this psalm…. It partakes of David’s spirit, and everywhere shows the hand of a master. The style is grand and noble; the subject, majestic.” (Adam Clarke)

Though this was likely David’s psalm, it was also Jesus’ psalm. “This is pre-eminently the triumph song of the Christ, He the ideal Servant, He the perfect Priest, He the Leader of the people. How much all these words meant to Him as He sang them on that night in the upper room.” (G. Campbell Morgan)

Though this was likely David’s psalm, it was also Luther’s psalm. This is my own beloved psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life, I fell in love with this psalm especially. Therefore I call it my own. When emperors and kings, the wise and the learned, and even saints could not aid me, this psalm proved a friend and helped me out of many great troubles. As a result, it is dearer to me than all the wealth, honor, and power of the pope, the Turk, and the emperor. I would be most unwilling to trade this psalm for all of it.” (Martin Luther, cited by James Montgomery Boice) (Quote source and complete commentary are available at this link.)

Here are the 29 verses in Psalm 118 (NKJV):

1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Let Israel now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”

I called on the Lord in distress;
The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me,
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
11 They surrounded me,
Yes, they surrounded me;
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
12 They surrounded me like bees;
They were quenched like a fire of thorns;
For in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
13 You pushed me violently, that I might fall,
But the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.

15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation
Is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them,
And I will praise the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord,
Through which the righteous shall enter.

21 I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.

22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save now, I pray, O Lord;
Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
27 God is the Lord,
And He has given us light;
Bind the 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 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

As Easter Sunday approaches, let us take the words of Jesus found in John 11:25-26 into our hearts and our lives–“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” That is a question we all must answer.

I’ll end this post with the words from John 3:16-17: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world…

But to save . . .

The world . . .

Through him . . . .

YouTube Video: “Jireh” sung by Elevation Worship & Maverick City, and premiered on March 26, 2021:

YouTube Video: “Jesus Saves/Easter Song” sung by the Worship Team at Northland Church on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

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