The Hallel Psalms and the Supper

“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.”
                                          —Ps. 115:1-9 (cf. Mk. 14:26)

Psalm 115 is part of the Hallel Psalms. Hallel means, “praise.” Jesus would have sung the Hallel Psalms (Ps. 113-118) with His disciples on the eve of Passover.[1] Psalm 114 speaks directly of the exodus. From a New Testament perspective, we know that the salvation which began in Egypt would be finally filled in and through Jesus. 

The Hallel Psalms were probably the last psalms Jesus sang before His suffering and death (Mk. 14:26). Jesus would have sung Psalm 115 knowing that He was Himself definitively showing God’s glory, love, and faithfulness. It is amazing also that Jewish people concluded the Hallel Psalms with the prayer:

“From everlasting to everlasting thou art God; beside thee we have no king, redeemer, or savior; no liberator, deliverer, provider; none who takes pity in every time of distress or trouble. We have no king but thee.”[2]

Truly! Apart from Messiah Jesus, there is no “no king, redeemer, or savior; no liberator, deliverer, provider.”

As we see in Psalm 115, idols are inept but God is a God of steadfast love and faithfulness. Whereas idols are inept God is involved. In fact, so involved that He came to this broken world in the form of Jesus Christ.

Idols are silver and gold but God came in flesh. Jesus has a mouth and with it, He spoke words of life. Jesus has eyes, and He saw this broken world and wept. Jesus has ears, and He heard the world’s bitter cries. Jesus has a nose, and He smelled the putrid smell of death. Jesus has human hands, and they were pierced. Jesus has feet, and they carried a cross, and were pinned to a cross. Jesus has a throat, and with it, He cried out: “my God, my God, why have Thou forsaken Me?!”

People taunted those who trusted in God then, and they still do so now. In fact, Jesus Himself was taunted as He was hanging on the tree. “Where is your God?!” they jeered. People are still screaming those same insults at us. “Where is your God?!”

People may say, “Where is your God?!” Yet, our God is in heaven and He does whatever He pleases. And He is pleased to love us. He is pleased to offer us salvation in Jesus. Brothers and sisters, when the world mocks, let’s not be ashamed! Our God is no idol. He is alive and well. And He loves.

Jesus instructs us to use tangible means to remember God’s very tangible love and so we are to take part in the meal of the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis until He returns (Lk. 22:18-20). The bread and cup symbolize the life of Jesus Christ given for us—His body broken, His blood poured. 

We are so prone to forget.

Yet, fight to never forget.

How great are God’s steadfast love and faithfulness!

Reflections

  • God’s steadfast love and covenant faithfulness are seen in incomprehensible ways through Jesus’ own body being broken and His blood being poured out for us. O’ what incomprehensible steadfast love and covenant faithfulness! Surely God’s love surpasses our understanding!

Prayer

LORD, we are amazed that You bless us. We are blessed because Jesus was bruised. Who has heard of such a God as You?! God, You are worthy of glory! You are the One True God and no idol! And You love us. How incomprehensible. We thank You that Your love is so vast that You sent Your Son to die for sin that whosoever would believe in Him would have eternal life. Amen.

________

[1] Thomas R. Schreiner, The King in his Beauty, 273.

[2] Colin G. Kruse, John, 359.

[3] Schreiner, The King in his Beauty, 273.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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