The Hebrew word hallelujah means "Praise the Lord" and appears numerous times throughout the Psalms—notably Psalms 113-118, known as the Hallel or "Praise." This series of psalms was sung at all of the great feasts of Israel and expresses praise to the Lord for His mercy and His mighty acts of deliverance for Israel.
The final psalm in the Hallel, Psalm 118, contains prophetic verses of considerable significance in the last week of Jesus' life. All the pilgrims gathering in Jerusalem for Passover would have been reciting this psalm. It is no consequence; therefore, it was referenced several times in the interactions around Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on what is now known as Palm Sunday, the crowd met Him with cries of "Hosanna" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," right out of Psalm 118. Hosanna is Greek for the Hebrew term for "save us," which is what subjects would ask of their king. "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" was a greeting and welcoming of the king—the one anointed by God to rule over them and provide their safety and prosperity. The disciples knew the crowds were proclaiming Jesus as their King with these verses and thought Jesus should rebuke them for it. He disagreed.
Later that week Jesus confronted the Pharisees for their rejection of Him, "the chief cornerstone," by reciting Psalm 118:22-23. Jesus also quoted this psalm when He later stood on the Mount of Olives and looked out over Jerusalem, lamenting the fact they had rejected Him. He then spoke these prophetic words over the city: "You will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'" (Matt. 23:39, NIV).
Jesus did not just mean they would welcome Him back one day, but they would welcome Him back as King. What a glorious day that will be when the whole earth will proclaim "Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord"—welcome, oh King!
If you would like to learn more about the original meaning of the psalms so they come alive, join me for this week's Out of Zion podcast on Hallelujah. Walk Thru the Bible with me each week by downloading our Bible reading plan, and get started reading right away! Invite your friends and family to join us! I can't wait to Walk Thru the Bible with you!
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