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The Middle Song

Why is the shortest 2-verse song and chapter of the Bible (Psalm 117) separated by only one other song (118) from the longest 176-verse song and chapter (Psalm 119)?

While guessing that there is  more than trivia and coincidence in such an unusual arrangement of songs, I think I see  additional  irony.

As Steve of WV pointed out in a response to the last post, the shortest Psalm is expansive in its invitation for all nations to celebrate the mercy and truth of the Lord which lasts forever.

By contrast, the longest Psalm has about it a certain constrictive effect that is as humbling as it is personal. After 176 verses of celebrating the law of God, the song writer says, I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (Psa 119:176)

In between these two songs there is a middle song that alludes to the story of  the nation of Israel (Psa 118:1-4)  and the personal story of her king (Psa 118:5-21).  Both in turn are part of the greater story of the One who, through his rejection and suffering  (Psa 118:22-23), has made it possible for people of all nations to celebrate the eternal mercy of God (Psa 118:1; Psa 118:29).

It is that day of rescue (a future day of crucifixion and resurrection) that was in view as David declares “This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psa 118:24)….“Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endures forever” (Psa 118:29).

So is there an intended relationship between Psalm 118 and the longest and shortest songs/chapters in the Bible? I think so. But what I’m more sure of is that all three ultimately support the story that is fulfilled in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It is because of his mediation that people of all nations (Psalm 117:1-2)  can be invited to celebrate the mercy that is needed by every one of us who says, “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (Psa 119:176)

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20 Responses to “The Middle Song”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Mart I like your style and I agree there are in my opinion no coincidences in the formation of the scriptures, Psalm 118 is placed right where the Holy Spirit wants it to be located.

    Psalm 118: 24 is one of those verses that get a great deal of use by many of us. Usually used in midst of troubles a more eloquent way of saying “Oh well I shouldn’t complain, just accept what the Lord gives and expect good to somehow come from it”.

    However as Mart has exposed and the fuller depth of the 118th Psalm expresses, *today* also has multiple meanings; it is certainly that day on Calvary when the Lamb of God was given as a sacrifice, as well as that day when Israel will be restored.

    It is a day when all the circumstances contrived of God in a single human beings life, which all events merge to that point in existence when Christ is offered and accepted.

    Thank you Mart this is a good continuance to the two previous topics.

    Rain and fog in the mountains this morning, but that won’t keep Matt and I home this afternoon, we’re off to the movies today. After all, today is a day the Lord has made, we will be glad in it.


  2. poohpity says:

    I have to apologize because in my search about these Psalms I found that is was not David who penned 117 or 119. The author was unknown for 117 but they thought that 119 may have been written by Ezra. So forgive me for leading you down a path of wrong info.. :-(

  3. foreverblessed says:

    Isn’t this middle song a great song?
    A song about our redemption, our salvation!
    What a great day that was: This is the day, let us be glad in it,
    I have often heard that this must have been the Psalm that Jesus sang with His disciples before He went into the garden of Gethsemane.
    Jesus knew all His life that He would be led to the Cross,
    The ultimate solution to the problem of sin, and of all the lost sheep that went astray, we all are them. Psalm 119:176, Isaiah 53:6,7
    But in that great day we were delivered, it is a Festival day, “let us rejoice and be glad in it”.

  4. poohpity says:

    Please pray for my daughter Shanna, please!!

    I am so very glad that Lord seeks us and I pray that He never gives up even when we at times give up on seeking Him.

  5. SFDBWV says:

    I don’t like jumping around, but rather like order in things I do, however I will go to Psalms 118: 8, 9; It is better to trust our Lord than to put our trust in other men or princes.

    This statement caused me to think about how many people we trust each and every day, not only for little things but for serious ones as well.

    We trust that the mail will be on time or that the TV shows we watch are there when we want them to be, we trust other drivers on the road to be as cautious as we, we do a lot of trusting, but with guarded optimism.

    We trust doctors or pharmacists; we trust the food we eat is clean and safe. We trust our government is there and providing us with an army and a police force to protect us from our enemies and the enemies of society.

    Yet these two verses of scripture give us wisdom to place all of these things we trust to the care and handling of our Lord.

    It becomes simple, *trust* God in all matters great and small, even when things look bad as Psalms 118: 10, 11, 12, 13 show; praise God for Psalms 118: 14, 15 for the Lord is my strength and my salvation and my voice will sing a song of rejoicing. When it is all said and done.


  6. SFDBWV says:

    Deborah, it will be our pleasure to pray for your daughter Shanna, may God be praised.


  7. foreverblessed says:

    Pooh, I pray for your daughter, God would like to see that the straying children come back, I was just commenting in the former topic, the shortest song: that is soothes God, calms Him, when people would come back to Him
    Psalm 118 is full of it, God’s mercy and love are forever. Mercy and love given in one Hebrew word which must be something like: lovingkindnes, and that because of that one great day, the day Jesus took up the cross and was led to the altar, it is said, in lets sing songs when we hold on the the horns of the altar Psalm 118:27
    And seeing now: v 27 The Lord God has made His light to shine on us:
    and when we sing Hallelu Yah, we sing: Shine God, and then God shines on us.

  8. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    Prayers going up for Shanna today, Pooh. Much to pray for. Tornado and severe hail warnings here last night!
    Have not yet heard any news of touch-downs.

    As I endeavor to “pack up everything” it is tempting to feel in charge and “on it.” But, Psalm 118:5, 6, 7, 8, 9 — puts it all in true perspective: Trust not especially in my own power or strength. Always and everywhere, the victory is the Lord’s (Psalm 118:7).

    Please keep us in your prayers as we launch the “great moving adventure!” I see so many various moving vans and trailers on the highways this year. I will be among them in a few days…May the Lord watch over us all.


  9. poohpity says:

    To me this Psalm speaks to not trusting in man or even in trusting in himself, if in fact this was written by David, he put that trust, where it belonged, in God. We often go to God as a last resort not as our primary source of hope and help. Often it seems we have to run out of strength by trying to do things on our own or the help of others before we run to God. How our lives would change if it was God we put our trust in.

    This writer knew even in the OT that God’s lovingkindness lasted forever and it was God’s shelter that refuge was found. When everything came against this author He knew that the Lord’s banner flew higher than any other and would bring victory in battles. No matter what this psalmist found something to praise God for and bottom line it was God’s goodness and lovingkindness that lasts forever.

  10. poohpity says:

    Thank you for the prayers for my daughter. Know that I will being praying for you guys as well.

    The horror that filled me when I picked her up yesterday with 2 black eyes, a bruised ear, lip split open, talking as if reality has gone due to meth use and the broken heart as I dropped her off at a shelter. God is her only hope because I can not do anything to help her though I would love to cradle her in my arms, I had to place her in the arms of God. I know He alone can get through to her even with her mind so messed up because he did it for me and many others. God is the only one who can work a miracle in her life and I pray that she is open to listening before, I can’t even think about it if she doesn’t.

  11. davids says:

    Oh, Deb, my heart goes out to you. I always pray for you and your family, and I will specifically pray for Shanna.

  12. phpatato says:

    Deb…from the heart of one mother to another, know that I am praying for Shanna. I am praying for you too my dearest Sister in Christ.

    It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

    Pat xo

  13. SFDBWV says:

    Matthew 12: 36, 37 places a very serious responsibility upon us as to what we say. Giving the understanding that what we write is the same as what we say, these verses should make us take notice to think about what we say and or write before doing so.

    Written there in the Psalms are the words of various men, primarily David, but not restricted to him. Think then of all of the words written or said by people over the time of mankind then realize that these Psalms are special because it is God speaking to us through these men and these Words; an arrangement of the Holy Spirit.

    There is some instinctive ability in us all to recognize the truth when we hear it. As is often said some things we hear it “rings a bell “as it settles in to our heart.

    Think then of ourselves and what we have said or written all of our lives, I would dare say most of us would be deeply ashamed of some things we have said and perhaps would rather forget some of the things we were responsible for writing.

    At the same time, we all have our moments as well as our Holy Spirit moments when God has also used us to speak to others as His words also settle into our own hearts.

    If we were able to produce all of the little things we have said in the form of the Psalms my guess it would be a very small collection of thoughts. Then let millions of people read them and dissect them and study them and judge them.

    I wonder how many would stand up to that kind of scrutiny as well as the test of time as the Psalms has for thousands of years.

    The author of scripture is God, God speaks to us through His Word, both the written Word of Scripture as well as through The Word, the Son and it is the Holy Spirit that bears witness of all of this and we recognize it because of the Holy Spirit in us.

    It is a blessing to read the Word, and a blessing to receive them into our hearts and an added blessing to have the aid of the Holy Spirit in us to aid us and lead us to all truth.

    Thank you Mart for this journey into God’s Word.


  14. SFDBWV says:

    Pooh is there anyone who Shanna will listen to? God will provide her an escape, I will, with others, pray for her and you during this difficult time.


  15. poohpity says:

    Not to many listen to words given in the heart of help or correction until they are open to receive them. When she is ready she will act upon what she has already been given. Right now she still thinks she can do it her way and does not recognize see has a problem even though she looks like she does, she rationalizes it away as do many others until they hit bottom. That bottom is different for everyone and sometimes it even may mean death, I am so very sad to say.

  16. poohpity says:

    She feels like she is superwoman but does not realize that the kryptinite is flowing through her veins each time she uses.

  17. BruceC says:


    I was going to make a psot but when I read about your daughter I was at a loss for words. Having been in law enforcement for 27 years my heart goes out to you and your daughter because of what I have seen.
    But our God is greater than any drug or any other thing and I will pray to Him that He reach into your daughter’s heart and mind deliver her from this.
    His Name Be Praised!!

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  18. poohpity says:

    I know through experience that the prayers of the saints work. So my heart felt thanks go out to all of you and as we surround her with prayers, God will work when we humble ourselves knowing that it is only God who can change things. Thank you all so very, very much.

  19. poohpity says:

    Bruce, I would really like to hear your take on the song as trivia denotes the middle of the bible, too!!

  20. foreverblessed says:

    I hope Bruce will say some too, here is my take:
    “A few years ago I got mail which was sent to many christians, called the center of the bible:
    Question: What is the shortest chapter in the bible:? Answer: Psalm 117
    Q: What is the longest chapter in the bible A: Psalm 119
    Q: Which chapter is in the center of the bible A: Psalm 118
    Facts: There are 594 chapters before Psalm 118, there are 594 chapters after Psalm 118
    Add these numbers up and you get 1188
    What is the center of the bible: Psalm 118:8 (from the added number 1188)
    Does this verse say something about God’s perfect will for our lives?

    It went on by asking to say a prayer for the one who sent this to you, a prayer is written out. And then you were asked to sent it to 10 other people, and pray for them too.
    The prayer gave many blessings, it was a blessed week. So this mail had a big significance, praying for one another is sooo good. (Like we pray for Pooh’s daughter now).

    From then on, I saw that Psalm 118 is a very very important chapter. What a great message it brings too, the most important message: the day Jesus would be taken to the cross and become our Salvation.
    that the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone 1 Peter 2:6,7,8 Isaiah 28:16
    then the verse many already mentioned: v 24 this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
    Psalm 118:22-23, 24-25, 26-27
    But then the introduction to these verses it also Psalm 118:19-21
    What to choose, it is all such a great song

    And it ends with giving thanks again as it started, Psalm 118:29,1

    (I did not know what to do with Psalm 117, so short, but that chapter contains such a great message too. Thanks for giving this series Mart)

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