Psalm 118:22

 

EXPOSITION

This passage ( Psalms 118:22-27 ) will appear to be a mixture of the expressions of the people and of the hero himself.

Verse 22. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. Here the people magnify God for bringing his chosen servant into the honourable office, which had been allotted to him by divine decree. A wise king and valiant leader is a stone by which the national fabric is built up. David had been rejected by those in authority, but God had placed him in a position of the highest honour and the greatest usefulness, making him the chief cornerstone of the state. In the case of many others whose early life has been spent in conflict, the Lord has been pleased to accomplish his divine purposes in like manner; but to none is this text so applicable as to the Lord Jesus himself: he is the living stone, the tried stone, elect, precious, which God himself appointed from of old. The Jewish builders, scribe, priest, Pharisee, and Herodian, rejected him with disdain. They could see no excellence in him that they should build upon him; he could not be made to fit in with their ideal of a national church, he was a stone of another quarry from themselves, and not after their mind nor according to their taste; therefore they cast him away and poured contempt upon him, even as Peter said, "This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders"; they reckoned him to be as nothing, though he is Lord of all. In raising him from the dead the Lord God exalted him to be the head of his church, the very pinnacle of her glory and beauty. Since then he has become the confidence of the Gentiles, even of them that are afar off upon the sea, and thus he has joined the two walls of Jew and Gentile into one stately temple, and is seen to be the binding cornerstone, making both one. This is a delightful subject for contemplation.

Jesus in all things hath the preeminence, he is the principal stone of the whole house of God. We are accustomed to lay some one stone of a public building with solemn ceremony, and to deposit in it any precious things which may have been selected as a memorial of the occasion: henceforth that cornerstone is looked upon as peculiarly honourable, and joyful memories are associated with it. All this is in a very emphatic sense true of our blessed Lord, "The Shepherd, the Stone of Israel." God himself laid him where he is, and hid within him all the precious things of the eternal covenant; and there he shall for ever remain, the foundation of all our hopes, the glory of all our joys, the united bond of all our fellowship. He is "the head over all things to the church," and by him the church is fitly framed together, and groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord. Still do the builders refuse him: even to this day the professional teachers of the gospel are far too apt to fly to any and every new philosophy sooner than maintain the simple gospel, which is the essence of Christ: nevertheless, he holds his true position amongst his people, and the foolish builders shall see to their utter confusion that his truth shall be exalted over all. Those who reject the chosen stone will stumble against him to their own hurt, and ere long will come his second advent, when he will fall upon them from the heights of heaven, and grind them to powder.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 22. The stone. The head stone of the corner. Christ Jesus is a stone: no firmness, but in him. A fundamental stone: no building, but on him. A corner stone: no piecing nor reconciliation, but in him. James Ford, 1856.

Verse 22. The stone which the builders rejected, etc. To apply it to Christ, "The Stone" is the ground of all. Two things befall it; two things as contrary as may be, --

  1. Refused, cast away; then, called for again, and made head of the building. So, two parts there are to the eye.
  2. The refusing;
  3. The raising; which are his two estates, his humiliation, and his exaltation. In either of these you may observe two degrees, a quibus, and quosque, by whom and how far. By whom refused? We weigh the word, aeificantes: not by men unskilful, but by workmen, professed builders; it is so much the worse. How far? We weigh the word, -- reprobaverunt; usque ad reprobari, even to a reprobation. It is not improbaverunt, disliked, as not fit for some eminent place; but reprobaverunt, utterly reprobate, for any place at all.

Again, exalted, by whom? The next words are a Domino, by God, as good a builder, nay, better than the best of them; which makes amends for the former. And How far? Placed by him, not in any part of the building; but in the part most in the eye (the corner), and in the highest place of it, the very head.

So, rejected, and that by the builders, and to the lowest estate: and from the lowest estate exalted in caput anguli, to the chiefest place of all; and that by God himself. Lancelot Andrewes.

Verse 22. The stone which the builders refused, etc. We need not wonder, that not only the powers of the world are usually enemies to Christ, and that the contrivers of policies, those builders, leave out Christ in their building, but that the pretended builders of the church of God, though they use the name of Christ, and serve their turn with that, yet reject himself, and oppose the power of his spiritual kingdom. There may be wit and learning, and much knowledge of the Scriptures, amongst those that are haters of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the power of godliness, and corrupters of the worship of God. It is the spirit of humility and obedience, and saving faith, that teach men to esteem Christ, and build upon him. The vanity and folly of these builders' opinion appears in this, that they are overpowered by the great Architect of the church: his purpose stands. Notwithstanding their rejection of Christ, he is still made the head corner stone. They cast him away by their reproaches, and by giving him up to be crucified and then cast into the grave, causing a stone to be rolled upon this stone which they had so rejected, that it might appear no more, and so thought themselves sure. But even from thence did he arise, and became the head of the corner. Robert Leighton.

Verse 22. The stone which the builders refused, etc. That is to say, God sent a living, precious, chosen stone on earth; but the Jews, who then had the building of the church, rejected that stone, and said of it, "This man, who observeth not the Sabbath, is not of God and, "We have no king but Caesar," and, That seducer said, I will rise after three days"; and many similar things beside. But this stone, so rejected by the builders as unfit for raising the spiritual edifice, is become the head of the corner; has been made by God, the principal architect, the bond to connect the two walls and keep them together; that is to say, has been made the head of the whole church, composed of Jews and Gentiles; and such a head, that whoever is not under him cannot be saved; and whoever is built under him, the living stone, will certainly be saved. Now all this is the Lord's doing, done by his election and design, without any intervention on the part of man, and therefore, it is wonderful in our eyes. For who is there that must not look upon it as a wonderful thing, to find a man crucified, dead and buried, rising, after three days, from the dead, immortal, with unbounded power, and declared Prince of men and angels, and a way opened through him for mortal man, to the kingdom of heaven, to the society of the angels, to a happy immortality? Robert Bellarmine.

Verse 22. The stone which the builders refused. Here we behold with how strong and impregnable a shield the Holy Ghost furnishes us against the empty vaunting of the Papal clergy. Be it so, that they possess the name, "chief builders"; but if they disown Christ, does it necessarily follow that we must disown him also? Let us rather contemn and trample under our feet all their decrees, and let us reverence this precious stone upon which our salvation rests. By the expression, is become the head of the corner, we are to understand the real foundation of the church, which sustains the whole weight of the edifice; it being requisite that the corners should form the main strength of buildings. John Calvin.

Verse 22. The stone, etc. That is, I, whom the great men and rulers of the people rejected ( 1 Samuel 26:19 ), as the builders of a house reject a stone unfit to be employed in it, am now become king over Israel and Judah; and a type of that glorious King who shall hereafter be in like manner refused ( Luke 19:14 Luke 20:17 ), and then be by God exalted to be Lord of all the world, and the foundation of all men's happiness. Thomas Fellton.

Verse 22 The stone. The author of Historia Scholastica mentions it as a tradition that at the building of the second temple there was a particular stone of which that was literally true, which is here parabolically rehearsed, viz., that it had the hap to be often taken up by the builders, and as oft rejected, and at last was found to be perfectly fit for the most honourable place, that of the chief cornerstone, which coupled the sides of the walls together, the extraordinariness whereof occasioned the speech here following: This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. Henry Hammond.

Verse 22. The head stone of the corner. How of the "corner"? The corner is the place where two walls meet: and there be many twos in this building: the two walls of nations. Jews and Gentiles; the two of conditions, bond and free; the two of sex, male and female: the great two (which this Easter day we celebrate) of the quick and the dead; above all, the greatest two of all, heaven and earth. Lancelot Andrewes.

Verse 22. Is become the head stone of the corner.

Higher yet and ever higher, passeth he those ranks above,
Where the seraphs are enkindled with the flame of endless
love;
Passeth them, for not even seraphs ever loved so well as he
Who hath borne for his beloved, stripes, and thorns, and
shameful tree;
Ever further, ever onward, where no angel's foot may tread,
Where the twenty-four elders prostrate fall in mystic
dread:
Where the four strange living creatures sing their hymn
before the throne,
The Despised One and rejected passeth, in his might alone;
Passeth through the dazzling rainbow, till upon the
father's right
He is seated, his Co-Equal, God of God, anti Light of
Light. R. F. Littledale.

Verse 22. Head stone of the corner. It is now clear to all by divine grace whom Holy Scripture calls the cornerstone. Him in truth who, taking unto himself from one side the Jewish, and from the other the Gentile people, unites, as it were, two walls in the one fabric of the Church; them of whom it is written, "He hath made both one"; who exhibited himself as the Cornerstone, not only in things below, but in things above, because he united on earth the nations of the Gentiles to the people of Israel, and both together to angels. For at his birth the angels exclaimed, "On earth peace, good will toward men." Gregory, quoted by Henry Newland, 1860.

Verse 22. The corner. By Bede it is rendered as a reason why the Jewish builders refused our Saviour Christ for the head place, Quia in uno pariete, stare amabant. They could endure no corner; they must stand alone upon their own single wall; be of themselves, not join with Gentiles or Samaritans. And Christ they endured not, because they thought if he had been heard he would have inclined that way. Alias oves oportet me adducere ( John 10:16 ). Alias they could not abide. But sure, a purpose there must be, alias oves adducendi, of bringing in others, of joining a corner, or else we do not facere secundum exemplar, build not according to Christ's pattern; our fashion of fabric is not like his. Lancelot Andrewes.

Verse 22-27. By the consent of all expositors, in this Psalm is typed the coming of Christ, and his kingdom of the gospel. This is manifested by an exaltation, by an exultation, by a petition, by a benediction. The exaltation: Psalms 118:22 , The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. The Jews refused this stone, but God hath built his church upon it.

The exultation: Psalms 118:24 , This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. A more blessed day than that day was wherein he made man, when he had done making the world; "Rejoice we, and be glad in it."

The petition: Psalms 118:25 , Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Thy justice would not suffer thee to save without the Messiah; he is come, "Save now, O LORD, I beseech thee." Our Saviour is come, let mercy and salvation come along with him.

The benediction makes all clear: Psalms 118:26 , Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD. For what David here prophesied, the people after accomplished: Matthew 21:9 , "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." The corollary or sum is in my text: Psalms 118:27 , God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Thomas Adams.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 22. In these words we may notice the following particulars.

  1. The metaphorical view in which the church is here represented, namely, that of a house or building.
  2. The character that our Immanuel bears with respect to this building; he is the stone in a way of eminence, without whom there can be no building, no house for God to dwell in among the children of men.
  3. The character of the workmen employed in this spiritual structure; they are called builders.
  4. A fatal error they are charged with in building the house of God; they refuse the stone of God's choosing; they do not allow him a place in his own house.
  5. Notice the place that Christ should and shall have in this building, let the builders do their worst: he is made the head stone of the corner. The words immediately following declare how this is effected, and how the saints are affected with the news of his exaltation, notwithstanding the malice of hell and earth: "This is the Lord's doing, and it is wonderful in our eyes." Ebenezer Erskine.

Verse 22-23.

  1. The mystery stated.
    1. That which is least esteemed by men as a means of salvation is most esteemed by God.
    2. That which is most esteemed by God when made known is least esteemed by man.
  2. The mystery explained. The way of salvation is the Lord's doing, therefore marvellous in our eyes. --G.R.

Verse 22-25. --

  1. Christ rejected.
  2. Christ exalted.
  3. His exaltation is due to God alone.
  4. His exaltation commences a new era.
  5. His exaltation suggests a new prayer. See Spurgeon's Sermon, no. 1,420.
Read Psalm 118:22