This is another installment in our Coffee Cup Doctrine series, a look at popular verses referenced in the American Christian culture that are typically used apart from their scriptural context. You can read the introduction to the series here, and you can find other blogs in the series by typing “Coffee Cup Doctrine” into the search bar at afa.net/the-stand/#.
It is a verse we have all heard often as a victorious and optimistic declaration in the midst of everyday drudgery: “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Coffee cup commentary
No matter what happens today, I can be happy and joyful. God gave me today as a gift, and I can be happy even if the gift includes pain, sorrow, or even just little annoyances. Nothing can stand between me and the happiness I am entitled to this day. God made this day just for me.
As usual, when we look at a passage of Scripture without considering the context, we come away with a meaning that was not originally intended. Of course, it goes without saying that we should be grateful for every new day we live. Every day is a gift from God, and it is appropriate for us to be grateful and happy. But the passage in question has a specific day in mind when it says, “this is the day the Lord has made.”
Psalm 118 is a song of praise to God for His mercy and grace in the life of a believer. Throughout the trials we as believers will face, both externally and internally, we can see the hand of God working in the situation on our behalf. The pain is real, and oftentimes God chastens us for the sin in our lives, but the end is always the same: God is our Salvation and Redeemer.
In verses 22-24, the psalm turns from the experience of the believer and offers a glimpse into the hope of salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
The day in which the stone, formerly rejected by the builders, became the chief cornerstone is the day in which the believer rejoices – the stone being Jesus Christ, exalted and placed as the foundation of the believer’s hope.
What we miss
When we miss the context, we shortchange ourselves. Compare the two days – your present day and the day of the exaltation of Jesus.
In the present day, you go about your normal routine. Maybe you sit in an office, or attend classes and lectures, or maybe you stay at home alone, or with children constantly clamoring for your attention. You may even be pretty happy, but sin is constantly threatening to take it away from you.
Temptations lurk around every corner, crouching outside every door, waiting to spring on you when you are least prepared. The sin of other people around you affects you, no matter how much you seek the Lord this day. You can rejoice, but your rejoicing will always be in spite of sin.
But look at the “this” day. Jesus Christ is on the throne with all sin and every enemy of your soul crushed to pieces beneath His feet. Think about that – the chief cornerstone is set in place, and there is now no sin between you and eternal happiness with Him. There is no reason to blush when He looks your way: no embarrassment, no shame, and no need for excuses.
“This is the day the Lord has made,” and this is what we miss when we forget to look at the bigger picture. Let us hold on to this, press further up and further in, and rejoice and be glad in it.