Psalms 118 – Undisputed Messiah Content

Psalms 118 probably comes in a close second behind Psalms 22 in getting the most attention for Messiah prophecies in Psalms, but for opposite reasons. Psalms 22 is front and center because of its controversial nature while Psalms 118 gets attention for its significant uncontroversial Messiah meaning and prophecies.[1]

Common ground is found among Jewish and Christian religious opponents – Judaism, a renowned Jewish Rabbi sage, Jesus of Nazareth and Christianity. All recognize that Psalms 118 is about the Messiah.

Judaism regards Psalms 118 as the concept of salvation pointing to the arrival of the Messiah and is part of the traditional Jewish Hallel.[2] A steadfast Jewish reference resource says of Psalms 118:[3]

“The Psalm verses recited have been interpreted by the Rabbis also as referring to the advent of the Messiah (see Midr. Teh. to Ps. cxviii. 17, 21, 22; comp. Matt. xxi. 42).” – JewishEncyclopedia.com

“Hallel” in Hebrew means “praise” and is comprised of Psalms 113-118. The Hallel was recited by Levites during the Passover sacrifice and continues to be recited or chanted during the family night celebration of Passover and some other Jewish holidays.[4]

Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles, is one of the three annual pilgrim festivals required by the Law handed down to Moses.[5] The holiday, often referred to as the “season of our Rejoicing,” serves the dual purposes of celebrating the harvest as well as the Hebrews emerging from the 40 years of wondering in the Sinai wilderness where they had lived in temporary shelters or tents called “tabernacles.”

In past times during each day of the Sukkot festival, a marching procession would wave branches of palm, myrtle and willow.[6] The seventh and final day of Sukkot is called “Hoshanna Rabbah” meaning “Great Salvation.” [7]

A reduced version of the Hallel is chanted the final day of Sukkot consisting of only the final verses of Psalms 118 beginning with verse 20.[8] A phrase of the Hallel originating from Psalms 118:25, “Anna Adonai hoshi-‘ah-nna” was shortened to a single word, “hosanna.”[9] Tracing back to ancient Jewish tradition, “hosanna” is the customary joyful shout of celebration.

“Hosanna” is the same word shouted by the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey the Sunday before he was crucified. All four Gospel authors write about that day considered in Christianity to be a triumphal event called Palm Sunday.[10] Jewish Encyclopedia confirms the account found in the Gospel of John:

“According to John xii. 13…which has the story preserved in its original form, the same cry was raised by the multitude on the occasion of Jesus’ arrival at Jerusalem. They “took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”—that is, the verse following “Anna Adonai hoshi’ah-nna” in the Hallel psalm — and then called him “the King of Israel.” – JewishEncyclopea.com

JN 12:12-13  “The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!”” (NKJV)

Backstory to John’s account of the triumphal arrival into Jerusalem involves the account of a previous encounter with the Pharisees. They had warned Jesus that Tetrarch Herod Antipas was seeking to have him killed. Not concerned about Herod, Jesus responded in part by foretelling of a future event quoting from Psalms 118:26:

LK 13:35 “…assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’”” (NKJV)

PS .118:26 “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.” (NKJV)

On previous another day, Jesus had told a parable about a winery rented to tenants by the landowner. Twice the owner sent his servants to collect the rent from the tenants and both times they were harshly rebuffed and beaten.

On the third attempt, the owner sent his only son thinking they would surely respect him, but the tenants actually killed his son. Interpreting the meaning of the parable, Jesus quoted Psalms 118:22-23.[11]

MT 21:42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’S doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? (NKJV)

PS 118:22-23 “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.” (NASB, NJKV)

Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi wrote his famed commentaries of the Scriptures about a millennium later.[12] In his commentary of the Micah 5:1(2) Bethlehem prophecy foretelling where the Messiah was to emanate, the Rabbi also quoted from Psalms 118:22.

Breaking down the prophecy for his commentary, Rashi interpreted the meaning of the phrase “…from you shall emerge for Me…” as referring to “the Messiah, son of David, and so Scripture says (Ps. 118.22): ‘The stone the builders had rejected became as cornerstone.’”[13] Intriguingly, Rashi did not provide a similar commentary for Psalms 118:22.

Psalms 118, according to Judaism and Christianity alike, refers to the Messiah. Was Jesus the one being referenced in this Psalm?

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1]The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. Chabad.org. n.d. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/The-Bible-with-Rashi.htmJewish Publication Society (JPS) translation. 1917. Benyamin Pilant. 1997. <http://www.breslov.com/bible> Last accessed 20 Apr. 2021.
[2] “Salvation.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13051-salvation>
[3]“Hosanna.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7893-hosanna>
[4] “Passover Sacrifice.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11934-passover-sacrifice>  “Hallel.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7800-hodu>  “Holy Days.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7814-holidays> Posner, Menachem. “What is Hallel?” Chabad.org. 2021. <https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4181720/jewish/What-Is-Hallel.htm>
[5] Deuteronomy 16:9-17. Leviticus 23:33.
[6] “Hosanna.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. Rich, Tracey R. “Sukkot.” JewFAQ.org. 2011. <http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday5.htm> “What is Sukkot.” Chabad.org.
[7] Lawrence, Natan. HoshanaRabbah.org. “Origin of “Hoshana Rabbash.”” 11/15/2019. <https://hoshanarabbah.org/blog/2019/11/15/origination-of-hoshana-rabbah> Rich. “Sukkot.”
[8] “Hallel.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. “Hosanna.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011.
[9] “Hosanna.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. “Salvation.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. “Sukkot.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7814-holidays> Psalms 118:25. BibleHub.com. Lexicon. 2021. <https://biblehub.com/lexicon/psalms/118-25.htm>
[10] Matthew 21: 9, 15; Mark 11:9-10; Luke 19:35-39; John 12:12-13.
[11] Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17.
[12] “Rashi.” Your Dictionary. n.d. <https://biography.yourdictionary.com/rashi>  “RASHI Biography.” OxfordChabad.org. n.d. <https://www.oxfordchabad.org/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/329653/jewish/RASHI-Biography.htm>
[13] Micah 5:1. The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16191/showrashi/true>

 

Psalms – Any Messiah Prophecies?

Psalms are quoted in the New Testament more than any other book from the Old Testament, the Tenakh.[1] Often associated with King David such as praises, songs, travails, and salvation; some describe characteristics of God; and others are considered to be parallels to the Messiah. Are any of the Psalms prophecies about the Messiah?[2]

Psalms identified by Jesus of Nazareth as prophecies to be fulfilled by him raises the bar to the highest level – he must fulfilled them if his claim to be the Messiah is credible.

MT: 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. (NRSV) [*] [3]

Pharisees had been watching and listening to Jesus since early in his ministry. At one point, Jesus took an opportunity to engage them directly asking, “”What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?”[4] Thinking the question was simple, they answered, “The son of David.” Jesus responded pointedly quoting from Psalms 110:1:

MT 22:43-45 …”How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” (NKJV)

PS 110:1 ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’? (NKJV)

No answer came from the Pharisees, according to Matthew. The Pharisees were unable to debunk Psalms 110:1 as a Messiah prophecy.

Visiting Bethany days just before entering Jerusalem for the last time, oddly the Pharisees warned Jesus to watch out for Tetrarch Herod Antipas who wanted to kill him. Ignoring the warning, Jesus said he was busy casting out demons and performing cures, then finished with a prophecy quoting from Psalms 118:

LK 13:35 “I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (NKJV)

PS .118:26 “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.” (NKJV)

Days later,  Jesus rode into the city seated on the unbroken colt of a donkey while a crown of people chanted and placed palm branches in his path:[5] All four Gospel authors write about that triumphal day with the Jewish Encyclopedia citing the Gospel of John:[6]

JN 12:12-13  “… a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!””[7]

Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi viewed Micah 5:1 (5:2 in Christian translations) as a prophecy predicting the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. In his commentary of the Bethlehem prophecy, the Rabbi commented “from you shall emerge for Me the Messiah, son of David, and so Scripture says (Ps. 118:22): ‘The stone the builders had rejected became a cornerstone.:”

Judaism regards Psalms 118 as the concept of salvation pointing to the arrival of the Messiah recited in the Hallel during Festival holidays.[8] The Jewish Encyclopedia in it’s article “Hosanna,” states that Psalms 118 refers to “…the advent of the Messiah (see Midr. Teh. to Ps. cxviii. 17, 21, 22; comp. Matt. xxi. 42).”[9]

MT 21:42 “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’S doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?” (NKJV)

PS 118:22-23 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.This was the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. (NKJV)

Teaching in the Temple just 3 days before he would be crucified, the Pharisees again questioned Jesus by what authority he was teaching. His answer included one of the few parables common to Mathew, Mark and Luke.[10]

Winery tenants refused to pay rent, beat-up those sent to collect it, and stoned to death the owner’s only son when he personally attempted to collect the rent. Initially the Pharisee’s reaction was “Bring those wretches to a wretched end!”[11] Jesus interpreted the parable by quoting Psalms 118:22.[12]

Passover meal became “The Last Supper” for Jesus.[13] As they were eating, Jesus identified a prophecy soon to be fulfilled and he didn’t want there to be any question about it. He quoted Psalm 41:9 as a prophecy of duplicity foretelling he was imminently to be betrayed by one of his own Disciples.[14]

JN 13:18-19 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfil the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’ “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. (NIV)

PS 41:9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. (NIV)

Once Judas Iscariot knew his unscrupulous intentions were known by Jesus, he quickly left the Passover meal. The act of betrayal by Judas happened just hours later.[15]

During his nighttime trial by the Sanhedrin, Jesus spoke only once. When he did, it was earthshattering in more ways than one. Admitting he is the Messiah, again he quoted from Psalms 110:1.

“‘I am,’ said Jesus, ‘and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’”[16]

Psalms 22is generally recognized by Christianity as either a foreshadowing or prophecy about the crucifixion of Jesus. The 1000-year older Psalm describes physical and metal effects that remarkably match an execution by Roman crucifixion as well as two specific actions by others, mocking and gambling.

Mocking words quoted in Psalms 22 were spewed by Sanhedrin scorners during the crucifixion and the Roman quaternion cast lots for his clothes.[17] In his excruciating dying moments on the cross, Jesus quoted Psalms 22:1:

MK 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

PS 22:1 …“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (NIV)

If specific Psalms identified by Jesus as Messiah prophecies actually matched circumstances in his life, is Jesus then the fulfillment of those Messiah prophecies?

[*] Greek word nomos translated as “law” means “anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command” i.e. the word includes the Law of Moses as well as other established customs or traditions.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] “44 Prophecies Jesus Christ Fulfilled.” Roman Catholic Church of St Thomas More, Swiss Cottage. n.d. <https://parish.rcdow.org.uk/swisscottage/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2014/11/44-Prophecies-Jesus-Christ-Fulfilled.pdf> Kranz, Jeffrey. “Which Old Testament Book Did Jesus Quote Most?” 2014. <http://blog.biblia.com/2014/04/which-old-testament-book-did-jesus-quote-most> Morales. L. Michael “Jesus and the Psalms.” TheGospelCoalition.org. 2011. <https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/jesus-and-the-psalms>  Wilson, Ralph F. “10. Psalms: Looking Forward to the Messiah.” (Psalms 2, 110, and 22).” JesusWalk.com. 2020. <http://www.jesuswalk.com/psalms/psalms-10-messianic.htm>
[2] “Hallel.” MyJewishLearning.com. 2020. <https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/hallel>
[3] “nomos <3551>.” Greek text. Net.Bible.org. 2020. <http://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=3551>  “G3551” LexiconConcordance.com. n.d.  <http://lexiconcordance.com/greek/3551.html>
[4] NET, NIV, NASB, NRSV, NKJV. NetBible.org. Greek text. <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Mat&chapter=22&verse=42> Lexicon-Concordance Online Bible. n.d. <http://lexiconcordance.com/greek/5547.html>\
[5] CR Matthew 21:2-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-16.
[6] “Hosanna.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7893-hosanna>
[7] NKJV.
[8] “Psalms 118.” JewwishAwareness.org. 2011. <http://www.jewishawareness.org/psalm-118>  McKelvey, Michael G. “The Messianic Nature of Psalm 118.” Reformed Faith & Practice. 2017. <https://journal.rts.edu/article/messianic-nature-psalm-118> “Hallel” EncyclopædiaBritannica. 2020. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hallel>
[9] “Hosanna.” Jewish Encyclopedia. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7893-hosanna>  CR Mark 12:11; Luke 20:17.
[10] Matthew 21:33-41; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19.
[11] Matthew 21:42. NIV, NASB.
[12] Matthew 21:46.
[13] Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-20; John 13:1-3.
[14] CR Matthew 26:21-25; Mark 14:17-21; Luke 22:21-23.
[15] Matthew 26:46-56; Mark 14:42-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11.
[16] Mark 14:62. NIV. CR Matthew 26:64. Luke 22:69-70.
[17] Psalms 22:8, 18; Matthew 27:41-42, 46; Mark 15:24, 31, 34; Luke 23:35-37; John 19:24. Zugibe, Frederick T. “Turin Lecture:  Forensic and Clinical Knowledge of the Practice of Crucifixion.” E-Forensic Medicine. 2005. <http://web.archive.org/web/20130925103021/http://e-forensicmedicine.net/Turin2000.htm>

 

Resurrection On the Third Day Prophecies?

Nowhere in the Old Testament or Tenakh can a prophecy be found predicting the Messiah would rise from the dead on the third day. It is a prophecy belonging exclusively to Jesus of Nazareth – three times.

Psalms 22 describes a death wholly consistent with the horrors of Roman crucifixion a 1000 years later with Jesus quoting from Psalm 22 in his dying moments on the cross. Zechariah 12:10 distinctly predicts the Messiah would be killed. Isaiah 52-53 describes the death of the Servant of God who would be despised, suffer greatly, be judged, killed and live again.

Life after death is depicted in Isaiah 53:8-12. The Servant of God is killed along with rebels; buried in a rich man’s tomb and afterwards sees the prosperity of his deeds – the Servant had to be alive again to see this. What isn’t predicted is how long the Servant would be dead before he would live again. Only in the Gospels can be found any prophecy of a Resurrection on the third day.

First of the third-day Resurrection predictions by Jesus occurred in Caesarea Philippi early in his 3-year ministry.[1] Up to this point, Jesus had been in Galilee giving amazing sermons interspersed by performing miracles of healing incurable diseases and birth defects; casting our demons; and raising the dead. To his Disciples, it didn’t get much better than this.

Word got back to the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem who began watching and listening to Jesus. According to Mark, Jesus openly prophesied that he would be rejected by the Jewish leaders, killed and then rise again after three days:[2]

MK 8:31-32 “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.” (NKJV)

Peter took Jesus aside and said, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”[3] Seeing that Peter’s comment came straight from Satan, Jesus responded directly, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”[4]

Second of the third-day Resurrection prophecies came again while Jesus was in Galilee.[5] Healing and casting out demons, the crowds had been amazed at everything Jesus was doing, but the Disciples were warned by Jesus that the jubilation about him was only temporary:

MK 9:31 “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” (NASB) [6]

Reaction to the prophecy this time “greatly distressed” the Disciples. Not sure what it meant, they seemed to be focused only on the prediction their teacher and miracle worker would be killed, not the prediction he would rise from the dead.[7] Nevertheless, the Disciples were afraid to ask Jesus about the true meaning of the prophecy.[8]

Nearing the end of his three-year ministry, it was just days before entering Jerusalem for the last time at the Festival of the Passover. Luke’s account reports how Jesus again predicted his death, this time providing more specific details. Jesus foretold that the Jews would hand him over to the Gentiles when he would be mocked, spat on, scourged, and killed in fulfillment of the written prophecies: [9]

LK 18:31 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” (NRSV)

It was an inconceivable scenario. Not so much that the Jewish leadership wanted to eliminate their archnemesis because such a prediction would not be a shocking revelation. The thought that the Gentles would kill him at the behest of the Jews was incomprehensible because of how the Jews and the Romans reviled each other. Aside from that, it was the seeming impossibility of rising from the dead on the third day.

Shortly before his arrest on Mount Gethsemane, Jesus made one last indirect prophetic reference of his Resurrection to his Disciples. He told them, “But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”[10]

Matthew uniquely reports the incident between the Jewish leadership and Pilate that took place the day after Jesus was buried, the Sabbath. It is obvious that the author of Matthew had a insider source to the Jewish Council in order to obtain this exclusive information.

Jewish leadership approached Pilate to explain their concern about the burial and try to convince him it was a problem requiring his assistance . An unpleasant concession had to be made. They had to acknowledge that Jesus did, in fact, predict he would rise from the dead. “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’[11]

Next they had to convince Pilate of the possible risk where the Disciples would steal the body in an effort to falsely claim fulfillment of the prediction. “Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”[12]

By acknowledging the Resurrection prediction, the Jewish leadership cleared up an ambiguous point. They understood the “Son of Man” references in the Resurrection prophecies were about Jesus himself, no one else.

Lastly, they had to convince Pilate this was a short-term problem by placing a time constraint on their request. They only wanted “the tomb be made secure until the third day.”[13] The third day was the next day, Sunday, further confirming their recognition of the Resurrection prophecy to occur on the “third day” by Jewish reckoning. Securing the tomb was not necessary beyond that time.

Only Jesus of Nazareth himself foretold three times he would rise from dead on the third day, unique from any other prophecy . Were the Resurrection prophecies fulfilled when Jesus rose from the dead at sunrise on Sunday morning, the third day according to Jewish Law reckoning?  Is Jesus then the promised Messiah?

 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] Matthew 16:13, 21,; Mark 8:27, 31. CR Luke 9:18.
[2] Matthew 3-15; Mark 1-8; Luke 4-9.
[3] Matthew 16:22. NKJV.
[4] Mark 8:33. NJKV.
[5] Matthew 17:22; Mark 9:30.
[6] CR Matthew 17:22-23; Luke 9:44.
[7] Matthew 17:23.
[8] Luke 9:45.
[9] Matthew 20:18-19; Mark 10:33-34; Luke 18:31-33.
[10] Matthew 26:32. NASB.
[11] Matthew 27:63. NKJV.
[12] Matthew 27:64. NKJV.
[13] Matthew 27:64. NKJV.