# 329 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 118. Ending as it began.

Recently my wife and I were in the city and as we walked along we realized where we were – at 816 Hay St Perth. Now to most people walking past that address it appears just as a door with who knows what behind it. For Miriam and I though, it brought back many happy memories. It was once the home of the Perth Christian Centre. It was the church where Miriam attended with her family from very early in her life. It was the place where we met after I had become a follower of Jesus there at the age of 19. It was the place where we were married and much more. All that began 52 years ago!

Good beginnings are great, but the longer I live, and I am now in my early 70s, the greater is my desire for my life to end well and to leave a godly legacy, i.e., to be able to honestly say as the elderly Paul wrote to the young Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Well, here in Psalm 118 the psalmist ends this “striking psalm [which] completes the Egyptian Hallel.” (# 5) the same way he began (with all the dramas of life in between). He proclaims in both verse 1 and 29:     

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

What a way to start life and end life – in thankfulness to the God who is good, whose love endures forever. And in this psalm “which is clearly a liturgy, intended for use in the Jerusalem cultus on some special occasion… the Passover [being] the most likely” (# 5), the psalmist exhorts all to acknowledge this truth. He says:  

Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say:
    “His love endures forever.”

He then testifies to the fact that it is this good God whose love endures forever who has enabled him all along the way. He says:

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.

And there was no doubt that he had been through some tough times as All the nations surrounded me … They swarmed around me like bees (vv. 10-12), but through it all he was able to look back and proclaim that I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me… Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” (vv. 13, 15) and so he was able to testify that The Lord is my strength and my defence; he has become my salvation.(v. 14).

From the beginning to the end of our lives we must make choices. Thank God, I chose to follow Jesus when the message of God’s love was preached at the Perth Christian Centre in 1970. I have made many decisions along the way (some were the right ones, others wrong) and there have been good and difficult times, but God has remained faithful. From the beginning I discovered with the psalmist that he is good and his love endures forever. Over 50 years later I can testify that although much has changed over the course of my life this one thing has not – The Lord is good and his love endures forever!

I trust you can say with the psalmist, as I can, that, no matter what life brings, when choosing who to go to for help, that:

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

Next time we shall consider the second half of this Psalm when the words of the psalmist are fulfilled at the coming of Jesus.

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