Psalm 118 is a compilation of glorious songs of salvation, full of emphatic repetitive choruses that celebrate God’s love and power. The central theme is that whether in distress from enemies or under the discipline of the Lord, when we cry out to God, He hears us and delivers us. Salvation leads to thanksgiving, and thanksgiving opens up into a confident request for more salvation, pointing to the fact that God’s love means that salvation is not a one-time bailout, but a lifelong commitment on the part of God to make His light shine upon the ones who bear His name. Rejoice today as you come to worship, for His steadfast love endures forever!
Unafraid of the truth:
For when you would carry off writings, and suppress a book given forth to the public, you are not defending the gods, but dreading the evidence of the truth.
ANF 6: Fathers of the Third Century, Seven Books of Arnobius Against the Heathen, III.77, pg. 466.
Lewis’ lion drank from the same theological well as Arnobius:
You may object and rejoin, Why was the Saviour sent forth so late? In unbounded, eternal ages, we reply, nothing whatever should be spoken of as late. For where there is no end and no beginning, nothing is too soon, nothing too late. For time is perceived from its beginnings and endings, which an unbroken line and endless succession of ages cannot have
ANF 6: Fathers of the Third Century, Seven Books of Arnobius Against the Heathen, II.75, pg. 463.
Arnobius has rambled quite a bit in Against the Heathen, but when he buckles down and foreshadows Lewis’ idea of “chronological snobbery”, false gods are shattered:
But our rites are new; yours are ancient, and of excessive antiquity, we are told. And what help does that give you, or how does it damage our cause and argument? The belief which we hold is new; some day even it, too, will become old: yours is old; but when it arose, it was new and unheard of. The credibility of a religion, however, must not be determined by its age, but by its divinity; and you should consider not when, but what you began to worship. Four hundred years ago, my opponent says, your religion did not exist. And two thousand years ago, I reply, your gods did not exist.
ANF 6: Fathers of the Third Century, Seven Books of Arnobius Against the Heathen, II.71, pg. 461.
Psalm 95 instructs us in the actions and postures of right worship: we are to come before God with joyful songs, to praise Him for His greatness. We are to bow down and worship, for He is our God, who shepherds us. And we are to listen with soft hearts to His Word, and then go forth and obey it. The Psalmist concludes with the sobering example of the Israelites in the wilderness, who came with songs and bowed down, but hardened their hearts and were cursed by God. Instead, as we come to worship, we are to enter God’s rest not just thankful for past blessings, but eager to hear and obey so that we might receive new life as well.
Psalm 121 focuses on this central idea: that God keeps His people. It is important to understand that this refers not to restrictions, but to protection and blessings. God keeps Israel as a whole, and you as an individual. God keeps and protects us when we sleep, because He never sleeps. He keeps us from being boiled or blinded by the sun or moon. He keeps us from all evil; from committing it and from being harmed by it. On our way to worship Him, He watches over our steps, when we leave and return. As you come to worship, rejoice in the fact that your help comes from the Lord, who will keep you forever.