Psalms 118:24 - Commentary and Explanation

This verse has been interpreted by Athanasius, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes and others as referring to Sunday as the day of worship for the New Testament Church. But how do they conclude that this passage without any contextual relationship to any weekly day of worship can be applied to the first day of the week? These commentators make an assumption with the emphasis on the word assumption by connecting Psalms 118:24 with verses 22 and 23. They claim that since Christ is the chief cornerstone of His church, (see verses 22-23 below) and that since Christianity is built on Him, therefore the day of His resurrection must be the day when He was made “head stone of the corner,” and that this day must be the day spoken of in Psalms 118:24. Hence this interpretation could only be referred to as eisegesis. Hover your mouse over the tool tips for explanations.

Many other commentators that have used Biblical exegesis have with good reason rejected this first interpretation asserting that they see no basis in the context for a reference to any day of weekly worship and from scripture we find that they are correct. Among this latter group are Augustine, Luther, Calvin and many modern expositors. They all believe that Psalms 118 was composed either in connection with the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles of Nehemiah’s time (see Nehemiah 8:14-18) and hence apply the expression “this is the day” to that event, or in connection with whatever other special day of rejoicing the psalm was intended to celebrate.

Psalms 118 is a congregational song of praise and verse 19 seems to picture a group of worshipers standing before the gates of the Temple crying for admittance. Verse 20 gives the response of the priests within the Temple. “This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.” (RSV) As the procession enters the sacred precincts they cry in ecstasy, “This is the day, etc.” Verses 20 and 24 both begin with the Hebrew demonstrative pronoun zeh. In verse 20 the text points to the gate being a present reality. Verse 24 points to the day on which the gate was being entered also as being a present reality. So demonstrably we find Sunday is not even hinted at in this passage in any way whatsoever.

Here is the entire passage in contention for your reference. Psalms 118:19-24Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord, Through which the righteous shall enter. 21 I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (NKJV)

The builders that rejected the corner stone which is Christ are the Jews. So when did Jesus become the capstone of the Church? There is the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church and for that matter God has always had His people that make up His Church. There is nothing in scripture whatsoever that gives any indication of a day that Jesus became the corner stone, or capstone if you prefer. To even go down this path we have to first assume that the day referenced in verse 24 is referring to the day that the Lord did become the cornerstone but no specific day is given. If one chooses to assume and apply this day that the Lord made to the actual day the Lord became the cornerstone, then this would be the day that the Jews (builders) rejected Christ. So again we have a dilemma as the fact is that the Jews rejected Christ right throughout His ministry and the final day of rejection was the day of crucifixion being Friday. Sunday would be the last day one would say was the day that the Jews rejected Him.

Whatever this day is, the psalmist could just be saying that this glorious day was a day made by the Lord just as the Lord makes all days. The fact is that no theologian is sure exactly what day the psalmist is referring to and hence why there are so many points of view.

The one thing that is certain is that there is no scripture that can tie this day to Sunday which is the worst assumption of all. It typically comes from those who would argue against the Sabbath of the Lord and would argue that the fourth Commandment was changed to Sunday. See also what day is the Sabbath and how was the Sabbath changed to Sunday.