Psalm 118 got me through some very difficult days in Taiwan during our first two years, 1976-1978. As I came to it in my regular daily reading of the Psalms yesterday, God spoke to me freshly from these ancient words, all of which point also to Christ in his sufferings and salvation by God.
The psalmist recounts God’s recent deliverance from overwhelming danger and distress, repeats the song of Moses in Exodus 15:2, and reflects upon one of benefits of suffering for believers: Learning from God’s discipline. He is drawing upon the wisdom of Solomon, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11).
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews quotes this saying (Hebrews 3:3-11), and teaches us how to respond to God’s discipline. Jesus warns the lukewarm church in Laodicea, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten [discipline]. Therefore be zealous [eager] and repent” (Revelation 3:19).
Just from the context of Psalm 118, our Father chided me for trusting too much in other people, rather than in the Lord (8-9); failing to believe that he alone is my “strength, my song, and my salvation” (14); not rejoicing in each new day as a fresh gift from God (24); and neglecting to praise him for both past and promised deliverances (1-5, 19, 21, 28, 29).