This past week, I have been teaching a week-long modular course on the book of Psalms. A couple of days ago, one of my students asked me if I had a favorite psalm. I hesitated a bit, but finally said that if I had to choose, perhaps my favorite psalm would be Psalm 118. This was also Martin Luther’s favorite psalm; he even thought of it as being his own personal psalm.
As Thursday (today, October 1) was approaching, I began to get a bit nostalgic, for it was twenty-two years ago today that my beloved professor, friend, and mentor, Raymond B. Dillard, died of a heart attack, way too early at the age of forty-nine. I had mentioned Ray Dillard a couple of different times to the class I am teaching, and I took a little time this morning to tell the students about this wonderful scholar and gift to the church of Jesus Christ.
When I arrived home after teaching, I decided to check and see if by any chance there were any recorded sermons of Ray Dillard’s on the Psalms. I could not actually remember hearing him teach or preach on the Psalms. But, sure enough, I found one, and it just happened (providentially, of course!) to be a sermon on Psalm 118! I had not heard the sermon before; but as I listened to it, I found it, indeed, to be vintage Ray Dillard. He was a masterful teacher and preacher, and, true to form, he does a simply masterful job, both expositionally and homiletically, on this beautiful psalm. In particular, I was delighted with the way he dealt with verse 24, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” For years, in class lectures, sermons, and various presentations, I have argued that we do this verse a disservice by detaching it from its context, and using it as just a general call to worship. Rather, in the context of Psalm 118, it has to do with the glorious triumph of Jesus Christ over all his enemies—over death, and hell, and the grave, and over all those who rejected him. It is a celebration of the exaltation of Jesus Christ, after having been the stone rejected by the builders. And Ray brings this out so well in his sermon.
Here is the link to the sermon, entitled, “Christ the King in Psalm 118.” I am sure you will derive great benefit from listening to it.
October 1, 2015