Today: [Psalm 117-118] Who is the Rock? In Psalm 117 we see the shortest psalm and the middle psalm of the bible. It is a chapter that points to all the nations of the earth (and not just the Jews) becoming recipients of God’s mercy through the gift of His son. Psalm 118 is the psalm that the people sang as they laid palms before Jesus when He entered Jerusalem. It includes reference to the stone that the builder rejected that Jesus spoke of. We know that Jesus is the rock – or at least we should know this. However Jews think they themselves as a nation are that rejected stone. Catholics teach that Peter was that stone. Evangelicals teach that the rock of Christ has to do with doctrine. We will answer this question in our study today.
[Psa 117:1-2 KJV] 1 O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. 2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD [endureth] for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the bible. It consists of just 2 verses totaling sixteen words. It is the 595th chapter of the King James Bible, therefore it is also the middle chapter of that particular version. It is also one of the 6 psalms used in the Jewish Hallel being recited in its entirety on the days when it is read.
The psalm is an invitation to the nations of the earth to praise the Lord. It emphasizes that the merciful kindness of the Father includes and is extended toward them. In the wording it draws upon the promise of God to Abraham that in him should all the nations of the earth be blessed, not just those in his Hebrew lineage. Paul in writing to the Galatians says this:
[Gal 3:16 KJV] 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
What Paul is saying is that the promise of God to Abraham was actually to only two people – Abraham and Jesus. Jesus is the “seed, which is Christ”. The Hebrews were blessed because the promise of God to Abraham was their national inheritance. Believers are blessed because we become one with Christ in redemption, thus partaking of all the promises of God to Abraham through Jesus.
This is a very important and often overlooked truth. Christianity was not “plan B” to God. He planned all along from the very beginning to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant in Christ and thus extend its promises to those that believe. Paul goes on in chapter 2 of Galatians with the plainest language possible establishing our place in the purposes of God:
[Gal 3:27-29 KJV] 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Abraham was given the promise in the context of a natural lineage. Jesus extends the promises to us after the power of an endless life. The important thing for us is not that we are Jew or Gentile but have we been baptized into Christ? Is this the mere ritual of water baptism? Some people think that is all it takes. In 1 Cor. 10:2 Paul describes the exodus and parting of the Red Sea as a form of baptism. It speaks to us of coming out of the Egypt of a sinful world and following Christ to the promised land of the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
[Psa 118:1-29 KJV] 1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good: because his mercy [endureth] for ever. 2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy [endureth] for ever. 3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy [endureth] for ever. 4 Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy [endureth] for ever. 5 I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, [and set me] in a large place. 6 The LORD [is] on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? 7 The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see [my desire] upon them that hate me. 8 [It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. 9 [It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. 10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them. 11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. 12 They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
Psalm 118 is a psalm of thanksgiving and a declaration of reliance upon God and not man. Jesus quotes from this psalm in Matt. 21:42 declaring Himself as the stone that the builders rejected that was become the head of the corner – speaking of course of Himself in the seat of Messiah. Modern Jewish scholars read this and interpret it as the nation of Israel itself is the stone of offense among the nations enduring rejection but will in fact one day (in their view) become the nation that rules the world with a yet-to-come Messiah as their head. Generally, many of the “suffering savior” passages in the Old Testament the Jew reject as applying to a specific individual and (in their view) certainly not Jesus. They see themselves as a nation suffering for the sins of the world.
13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me. 14 The LORD [is] my strength and song, and is become my salvation. 15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation [is] in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. 16 The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. 17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. 18 The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, [and] I will praise the LORD: 20 This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. 21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
Regardless of what the Pharisees and Sadducees thought of Jesus in terms of rejecting Him as their Messiah – the common people in Matt. 21:9,15 plainly declared Jesus as to who He was by quoting this very psalm during His triumphant entry to Jerusalem as they laid palms in His path. When verse 13 speaks of those that thrust at the writer that he might fall, it is a Messianic reference declaring that though Jesus was crucified by the Romans and whose death was demanded by the Jews yet He would rise again the 3rd day and be shown victorious. The great error of the Jews and Jewish religion is that they did not see in the first century the suffering savior. They were willing to make Jesus king but they were not willing and to this day are not willing to see Him as the lamb of God paying the price for their sins upon the cross.
22 The stone [which] the builders refused is become the head [stone] of the corner. 23 This is the LORD’S doing; it [is] marvellous in our eyes. 24 This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed [be] he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. 27 God [is] the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, [even] unto the horns of the altar. 28 Thou [art] my God, and I will praise thee: [thou art] my God, I will exalt thee. 29 O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
Jesus is the stone that the builders rejected. The rock cut out of the mountain that shattered the image of all the nations of the earth in Daniel 2 is speaking of none other than Jesus Himself. The entirety of the timeline of man and human history will one day be summed up in Christ as Paul wrote in Ephesians:
[Eph 1:10 KJV] 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:
Jesus was also the rock that gave water to the children of Israel in the wilderness. Paul wrote of this in 1 Cor. 10:
[1Co 10:4 KJV] 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
It is an interesting description that Jesus is the rock that “followed them”. He is likewise the rock that follows us and will never forsake us. Jesus is also the rock that He himself spoke of to Peter in Matt. 16:18:
[Mat 16:18 KJV] 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
What was Jesus referring to? He was referring to Himself. Catholic doctrine says that Peter was the rock. Protestants and Evangelicals say the rock was the doctrine that was revealed to Peter about who Jesus was as the savior of the world. That isn’t how the very reads. Peter declared that Jesus was the son of God. Jesus replied that “on this rock I will build My church…” The rock He speaks of is His own person. This is confirmed in Eph. 2:20 by the apostle Paul:
[Eph 2:20 KJV] 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone];
What this emphasizes to us is that our salvation is not in being connected to the institution of religion that claims apostolic succession back to Peter. Neither is our salvation in a doctrine ABOUT JESUS. Institutions cannot save us. Doctrines cannot save us. Our salvation is in the PERSON OF JESUS who takes up residence in our heart when we give our lives to Him.
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