“It is better to rely on the Lord than to put any trust in rulers. All the ungodly encompass me, in the name of the Lord I will repel them. They hem me in on every side, in the name of the Lord I will repel them. They swarm about me like bees; they blaze like a fire of thorns, in the name of the Lord I will repel them. I was pressed so hard I almost fell, but the Lord came to my help. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. There is a sound of exaltation and victory in the tents of the righteous. ‘The right hand of the Lord has triumphed! The right hand of the Lord is exalted! The right hand of the Lord has triumphed!'” – Psalm 118:9-16
The Psalmist has written a victory song. Psalm 118 is a song of thanksgiving. Four times in the first four verses the Psalmist declares God’s steadfast love endures forever. It is an encouragement for all groups in Israel to continually sing the refrain of God’s love. The Psalm ends with the same theme, reminding the listeners that God’s steadfast love endures forever. In the middle, the Psalmist recounts various ways God’s love has been demonstrated, from God’s help in times of distress, to the promise of the one who will come in the name of the Lord and make all things right. It is a constant psalm of praise and exaltation.
The section above comes from the first half of the psalm in which the Psalmist is testifying of God’s protection. The actual events that transpired are not revealed, but the Psalmist is convinced it was only by God’s hand that the Psalmist has overcome the trials. The Psalmist was falling under the weight of the trial, but through God’s strength and might the victory was won. The Psalmist had been surrounded on every side by the nations. They were like bees hovering, waiting to attack. The nations blazed like a fire waiting to destroy. But in the name of the Lord they were rebuked and cut off. Therefore, it is better to trust in God than in mortals or princes. Only God has the power to overcome. So give thanks to the Lord for the Lord is good and the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.
The Psalm is clearly a victory song of thanksgiving. But what may be most interesting is that it serves not only as a testimony, but as an encouragement. The Psalmist is testifying God’s goodness and God’s protection over the difficulties of life. The Psalmist is declaring God’s praises. But the Psalmist is also encouraging others to put their trust in God over any sort of mortal power. God has been faithful in the past so trust God in the future.
Often when difficulties arise we are encouraged to think back to moments in our own lives when God has protected us and to draw strength from those moments. Just as God has been with you in the past, God will be with you in the future. The problem is that sometimes in the midst of difficult situations it’s hard to remember the times of God’s blessing. When all of life is bearing down on you, it’s hard to acknowledge and claim God’s blessings. When we can’t recall God’s blessings, where do we find our strength?
Psalm 118 says to find your strength in the faith of the Psalmist. If you don’t have the strength to believe, the psalmist says, borrow my faith. I will declare the times when God has been good in my life, and I will share those moments with you so that you can trust through the strength of my faith. This victory song is a song to share, not just to declare God’s praises but so that others can trust in God. The Psalmist is not just sharing a testimony, but is sharing faith. The Lord is good. Trust in the Lord.
The next time you find yourself in a situation where you find it difficult to trust in God, read Psalm 118. Allow Psalm 118 to become your prayer; your song. Find the faith of the Psalmist, and allow the Psalmist to believe for you until you again have the faith to believe. For the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.