Devotion 182 – Saturday of Easter 1

Opening Prayer

O give thanks to the Lord for He is good,
For His mercy endures forever! Amen. (Psa 118:29)

Text: Psalm 118:14–24

The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation Is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord. The Lord has chastened me severely, But He has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord, Through which the righteous shall enter. I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Devotion

This psalm was sung when the foundation for the Temple was laid in the days of Ezra which is described in his book, Ezra 3:10-13. Israel had been in exile, but the Lord had received them in grace again and made them the cornerstone of the liberation of the world. But what is Israel? It is Christ! He is the rejected stone, which has become the chief cornerstone. The Jews, the builders of God’s kingdom, rejected Him, but by His very death, which they forced upon Him, He became the foundation for His Church, which is God’s dwelling place among us and the temple of life on earth. Just as Israel, when they were rescued from Egypt, rejoiced while their enemies sank like lead into the deep waters (Exodus 15); just as Israel, when they returned from Babylon, sang with joyful voice in the Lord’s gate at Jerusalem: so Christ’s Church sings of victory and life and salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection, by which death and hell have sunk into an eternal grave, so that we shall see them no more. Of course, the voice of weeping is still mingled with the voice of joy just as in Ezra’s day. But the joy shall prevail, for “the glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts” (Hag 2:9).

“Open to me the gates of righteousness.” The doors to the temple courtyard were opened, and the people streamed in with their joyous songs of praise. For us the gates of righteousness are opened, the doors of Jesus’ merit, to heaven itself, and we go in and stand before His throne, here by faith, but hereafter by sight. This is done by the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Let us rejoice and be glad in Him!

Can anyone else sing like the believers: “I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord”? “Not die, but live.” These words are a gift to you from the Lord, believing Christians! “I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord.” This is your inheritance bestowed by the Lord. The sickle of death mows down everything on earth: thrones and huts, the scholar and the simple, the virtuous and the vicious. But Christ’s Church withstands the storm and lifts its golden spire toward heaven. And meanwhile the Church enjoys life before the Lord. When death’s eternal gates open for the unbelievers, the righteous shall enter into a perfect festive home forever.

Closing Prayer

“Lord, though You chastened me severely, yet You did not give me over to death. I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation. Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psa 118:18, 21, 25, 28, 29). Amen.

Hymn

The Father’s name and glory,
His Temple’s glorious worth,
This shall be Jesus’ story,
The reason for His birth.

From each and ev’ry nation
The Lord shall gather all
Who trust in His salvation,
The host who hear His call.

A Temple He has founded
And based it on His blood
And Satan is confounded
The Lord’s House has withstood.

Each soul that Satan chases
In God’s House is a guest.
Who seeks God and embraces,
Finds comfort and finds rest.

In faith who there remaineth
Transformed by holy Word,
Such means of grace sustaineth
His faith at Festal Board.

God will our souls be loosing
From bonds of ev’ry sin,
True comfort there producing
For troubled souls within.

Our Jesus there appeareth
To all who seek His face
The crown of vict’ry weareth
Each soul that trusts His grace.

Kingo: Gud Faders Navn og Ære L 197:2-7 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: O Jesus, for din Pine (LHy 479); alternate hymn: O bless the Lord, my soul (Montgomery) ELH 369:1-2

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