The Egyptian Hallel: Psalms 113-118
Today is Good Friday so we're going to do something a little different. Psalms 113-118 is collectively referred to as the Egyptian Hallel, and is used in Jewish liturgy during their festivals (i.e., Passover). We'll be doing an abbreviated study of all six chapters today, with a little backstory included. We will not be doing a word study on the entire passage, as it is lengthy; but, we will be looking at the lexicon for a few key words that foretell of the Savior.
Passover is the Jewish festival that commemorates when God passed over the houses marked with the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. He rescued the Israelites from the hand of the Egyptians and delivered them from captivity. The Passover Seder is the ceremonial meal that takes place each year to remember this mighty act of God. The Seder is divided into 4 sections of God's promises, each marked with a cup of wine: (1) Cup of Sanctification: "I will bring you out" (2) Cup of Deliverance: "I will free you" (3) Cup of Redemption: "I will redeem you to myself" (4) Cup of Restoration: "I will take you as my people and I will be your God" (Exodus 6:5-7). Please keep in mind that this is what Jesus would have read with His disciples at the Passover meal the night He was arrested in the garden, the night He Himself became our Passover Lamb.
Psalms 113 & 114 were sung before the 2nd cup (Cup of Deliverance) was served. Psalms 113 celebrates our mighty God and His mercy toward us. It sounds very similar in tone to the song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-15) and the song of Mary (Luke 1:46-55). Psalms 114 celebrates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt.
113: "1 Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! 2 Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! 3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! 4 The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! 5 Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, 6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. 9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!"
114: "1 When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, 2 Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion. 3 The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. 4 The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. 5 What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? 6 O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? 7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, 8 who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water."
Psalms 115-118 were sung once the 4th cup (Cup of Restoration) was filled. Psalms 115 praises God for His love and faithfulness. Psalms 116 is a praise for deliverance from death. Psalms 117 is a hallelujah to God and possibly a conclusion to the preceding psalm. Psalms 118 is a song of thanksgiving to God for the deliverance from their enemies. Jesus quoted verse 22 in reference to Himself in Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11, and Luke 20:17.
115: "1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! 2 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” 3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. 5 They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. 6 They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. 7 They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. 8 Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. 9 O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. 10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. 11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. 12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; 13 he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great. 14 May the Lord give you increase, you and your children! 15 May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth! 16 The heavens are the Lord's heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man. 17 The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence. 18 But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!"
116: "1 I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. 2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!” 5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. 6 The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; 9 I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 10 I believed, even when I spoke: “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 I said in my alarm, “All mankind are liars.” 12 What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. 16 O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!"
117: "1 Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! 2 For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!"
118: "1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”3 Let the house of Aaron say, "His steadfast love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. 6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7 The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. 10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 12 They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. 15 Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly, 16 the right hand of the Lord exalts, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!” 17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. 18 The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar! 28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. 29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"
118:21 - answered ('anah) - "to hear and answer a petitioner, to respond, speak, to heed, to pay attention to, to hear, to reply"
118:21 - salvation (yeshuw'ah) - "deliverance, victory, help"
118:22 - rejected (ma'ac) - "to despise, to spurn, to refuse, to reject" (see the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 53)
118:22 - cornerstone (pinnah) - "pinnacle, the chieftain"
118:24 - rejoice (giyl) - "to exalt, to be glad, to leap for joy"
118:25 - save us (yasha') - "to save, to deliver, to give victory to, to be free, to be safe"
118:26 - blessed (barak) - "to kneel, to praise, to bless God, to celebrate and adore God, to salute"
118:26 - he who comes (bow') - "to come to pass, to enter, to lead, to bring to pass, to be fulfilled or accomplished"
118:27 - he has made his light to shine upon us ('owr) - "to be illuminated, to be or become light, to enlighten anyone's eyes which were involved in darkness (to recall him to life), to refresh, to gladden, to give light"
118:27 - horns of the altar - In the tabernacle, the horns of the altar provided salvation for those who held onto them. This is where the sacrifice to the Lord was done, and no one dared to kill another in this sacred place.
What does this reveal about God's character?
God is awesome. He made a way for us to be reconciled to Himself through the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). He planned this way of salvation before the beginning of time. The Jewish Passover Seder is sprinkled with signs pointing to Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish prophets, giving abundant meaning to the Jewish Passover traditions. Every tradition carried out is beautifully crafted and ordained by God Himself and points to Jesus Christ as the Savior (Luke 2:11). Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
There is really only one important question: have you given your life to Jesus Christ? He gave His life for you, so that you might choose Him and dwell with Him in heaven for eternity. Will you choose Him today? Please visit our Resources page to pray a prayer accepting salvation through Jesus Christ.
Father God, thank you for your provision of salvation through your son, Jesus. You knew we would mess up and need a way back to you. I praise you for how awesome and majestic and good you are. You are faithful to us even when we are unfaithful (I Corinthians 1:9, 2 Timothy 2:13). Your love is constant and steadfast, even when our love wavers (Psalms 118:29). Your salvation is sure, even when we do not accept it (Isaiah 33:5-6, Psalms 19:7). Thank you, Jesus, for submitting yourself to the will of God and giving your life that we might live (Luke 22:42, Hebrews 12:1-2). You took my place, and I am forever thankful. Lord, I pray for those who do not know you. People are looking for something to believe in, something to give them love and worth. It seems they look everywhere except the one place it can be found - in you. Lord, I pray you would make yourself known and real to them. Put people in their path who would point them toward you. Let those seeds grow in them until they seek to know and commit their lives to you wholeheartedly, not looking back. Lord, help me to shine as a light to those around me who have not chosen to receive the salvation you freely give. Keep my words, actions and thoughts in line with your word so that I may bring glory and honor to your name (Psalms 19:14). Father, as we are in Holy Week, remind me of Jesus' sacrifice and love for me. Moreover, remind me not just today, but everyday. Renew a steadfast spirit within me, O Lord (Psalms 51:10). I ask you to speak to me now, Lord. Your servant is listening (1 Samuel 3:10). I love you. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen!