‘This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.’
We can sing those words as song on a Sunday, and the general feeling may be that we are in God’s church, and that Sunday is the day that the Lord has made. However, that is not what the song is about; it’s not what the scripture that inspired the song is about at all.
Indeed, the Psalm from which it comes was written to celebrate a specific festival—probably the Feast of Passover. And its theme was to thank God for coming to the people’s rescue—most likely in the rescue of God’s people from Egypt.
The line in the Psalm then is not about Sundays. It’s about a day when God came to his people’s rescue.
It’s perhaps no coincidence, then, that this Psalm also has strong connections with Jesus. After all, two verses later in the Psalm we read these familiar lines: ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’ (26a)—words that were spoken by the crowd as Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time. Furthermore, the two verses before in the Psalm, read: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the main cornerstone; this is the Lord’s doing and it is wonderful in our eyes.” (22-23)
What we have in the Psalm and the song, then, is the idea of specific days when God involved himself in spectacular ways in the lives of his people. Yes, it’s about God rescuing or redeeming his people from slavery in Egypt and making them his own. But it is also a prophecy of a time when God would do something even more extraordinary in order to rescue his people. And we have that in the redeeming death and resurrection of Jesus.
So, is ‘This is the Day’ a good hymn to sing? Well, at the least it is very popular. But let us never forget that the Psalm and the song are about being thankful for God’s intervention in human history. And it’s about an attitude of appreciation, thankfulness and rejoicing for God’s redeeming acts.
Posted 28th August 2019
© 2019, Brian A Curtis