LOVE WITH NO EXPIRATION DATE –
These are the last two psalms sung following the Passover Meal after raising the third cup of wine. The shorter one (117) was often used as a prayerful hymn to introduce observances and festivals in the temple; while the longer one (118) was sung at the dedication of the new Temple after the exiles returned from captivity. Both these jewels speak in terms of the future; expressing joy and hope in a God whose undying love cannot be quenched, nor can it be exhausted. What better way to end a meal that celebrates being set free from bondage, than by recounting the number of times that freedom was challenged but remained steadfast because the God who performed the miracle of salvation could not be persuaded to cancel His promises.
“Let everyone around the world stand up and praise the LORD Eternal for how great He is! His undying love simply overwhelms us, and the faithfulness of the LORD Eternal will never, ever end. O Hallelujah! Yes, praise the LORD Eternal for He is kind, and His undying love will never, ever end. Let all believers declare, ‘His undying love will never, ever end.’ Let all His ministers declare, ‘His undying love will never, ever end.’ Let all who reverence the LORD Eternal exclaim, ‘His undying love will never, ever end.’ When I felt so penned in, I called out to the LORD above, and the LORD above responded by giving me room to breathe. Since the LORD Eternal stands ready to help, I will not be afraid no matter what others may say or do. And with the LORD Eternal on my side, it gives me the strength to look any enemy straight in the eye. I would rather put my full trust in the LORD Eternal than depend on anything mankind may promise me. I say again, it is better to put one’s full trust in the LORD Eternal than to accept assurances from those who claim authority.” Psalm 117:1-2 & Psalm 118:1-9
Reflection: Jewish historians tell us that when Solomon’s Temple was being built, chiseling of stones was forbidden on temple grounds; so all the stones had to be cut to specifications at the quarry site. The stonemasons then sent these stones to be placed into the building of the Temple. One day a stone arrived and the builders couldn’t figure out where it was supposed to go. It looked out of place and not cut correctly, so they threw it away down the hillside. Sometime later the builders began wondering when to expect the most important stone, the cornerstone. With all the other stones in place they need this last one right away. So they sent word back to the quarry, asking where the cornerstone was. The workers at the quarry replied that the cornerstone had already been sent a long time ago so it would be there when needed. That’s when the builders realized that the stone they threw away as not being of any use turned out to be the most important of them all. In like fashion, believers need to guard against throwing the cornerstone of their faith away. Its place cannot be filled by another, and without it our temples cannot be completed for God’s Spirit to occupy. In such cases, it will remain incomplete and undedicated. But just like these builders of Solomon’s Temple, if we ever throw that cornerstone away we can always find it right were we left it, because God in His undying love will not hide it or take it away out of spite. He is more interested in us getting our temples built than He is in revenge or doing something out of spite. No wonder the writers of these Psalms declared over and over again, His undying love will never, ever end. This same thought from this Psalm also inspired hymn writer George Matthewson to pen these words in 1882: “O Love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.” Where else can you find any other love like this?