Give Thanks to the Lord
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! ... The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: ‘The right hand of the Lord does valiantly, the right hand of the Lord exalts, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!’ I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”
- Psalm 118:1, 14-17
Psalm 118 is the final psalm in a series known as the Egyptian Hallel. It was thought that these were songs that the nation of Israel sang as they were delivered from the nation of Egypt and were thus psalms to be associated with the celebration of the Passover. You can just imagine the song and dance of the people after they had crossed through the Red Sea and seen the Egyptian armies drown in that same sea. Clearly, it was the hand of the Lord who had delivered them from their enemies. That salvific work of the Lord had become their song and their salvation.
Departing the nation of Egypt was only the final part of the salvation story. God had demonstrated his power over the Egyptians, Pharaoh, and all the gods of Egypt through the ten plagues but especially in the Passover. For those who covered the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a lamb, the Lord saw the blood and passed over that home. Those without the blood experienced the death of their firstborn child. Judgment had come upon the nation of Egypt. They had enslaved and oppressed God’s people, God’s firstborn son. Thus, they then lost their firstborn.
The nation of Israel saw the hand of God fight on their behalf. They saw his deliverance and salvation, and they gave thanks for what had been done on their behalf. Each year, they were to celebrate the Passover, to remember the story, and to retell that story so that no one would forget the redemptive love of God for his people.
Easter is our Passover as God once again provided the way of salvation for his people. This time, God sacrificed his firstborn Son on behalf of our sins; Jesus became that lamb whose blood covers us. Jesus took that punishment for our sins upon himself so that we could be redeemed, so that we could have salvation from those sins. Just as the nation of Israel was called to remember what had been done on their behalf, so are we called to remember – to remember the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus.
Once again, the hand of the Lord had fought on behalf of his people; he has become our strength and our song; he has made the way for our salvation. May we join the song and dance. May we proclaim this great salvation to all who will listen. Reflection:
What is your response to this great salvation? How do you express your joy and gratitude for God’s work on your behalf?