“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
When I was in college, I sang in the Concert Choir that traveled to churches around the country back in the days when Christian colleges could afford that kind of thing. I don’t remember very many of the songs we sang, but one keeps coming to mind from time to time based on Psalm 118:24. I didn’t think much about the words when we sang it, but I sure think a lot about those words the older I get.
Typically, if I wake up in a good mood, the sun is shining and all seems right with the world, I say, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” But if I wake up in a bad mood, the sky is gray, and nothing seems right with the world, Psalm 118:24 isn’t the first thing that pops into my mind. As I’m getting ready for work, my mind is focused on the negative and what I perceive to be the drudgery of just getting through the day.
This is why the context for Psalm 118:24 is so amazing. The psalmist begins with an expression of gratitude for the goodness of God and His enduring steadfast love. He invites others to join in the celebration—Israel, the house of Aaron, and, to make sure no one is excluded, let everyone who fears the Lord participate in the celebration of God’s goodness and steadfast love (vv. 2-4).
But then the focus shifts from what we tend to think as being causes for gratitude and celebration to causes of ingratitude and depression. The psalmist describes moments of “distress” (v. 5), opportunities for fear (v. 6), and the awareness of those who hate (v. 7). He gives account of how the nations surrounded him (v. 10) on every side (v. 11), like a swarm of bees (v. 12), where he was pushed so hard he was falling (v. 13).
Does this sound like a good day to you? And yet the psalmist responds with joy and gladness (v. 24). He overcomes his fears and struggles because he called on the Lord (v. 5). The Lord was on his side (v. 6). The Lord was his helper (v. 7). The Lord was his refuge (v. 8). The Lord helped him (v. 13). The Lord was his strength, song, and salvation (v. 14). The psalmist was able to rise above his circumstances to see the light in the darkness and trust that the light overcomes.
The same message rings clear today. The reason we can say, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” flows not from the circumstances of the day but from the One who overcomes the day. Our hope rests not in our trials and tribulations but in the One who is brings the victory. “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (v. 23).
Whether you wake up in a good mood or bad, with a sense of refreshment or dread, this is the day the Lord has made. Whether you are facing cancer or have a clean bill of health, this is the day the Lord has made. Whether you are in the midst of a storm or are enjoying a season of calm, this is the day the Lord has made. We rejoice and are glad, not because of what we face each day, but because of the One who is with us. Whatever you are facing, know that the Lord is on your side. So therefore, do not fear, for what can man do to you? (v. 6) “The Lord is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us” (v. 27). Thank You, Father, for shining the light of Your Son, Jesus Christ, into our darkness (John 1:4-5).