Psalm 118 starts out as an introduction to worship. The leader and the people are speaking to one another. The theme of the worship is clear from the first verse on: “His steadfast love endures forever!” As the worship continues, a speaker comes forward and gives his testimony.
“Out of my distress I called on the Lord,” he begins in verse 5. “The Lord answered me and set me free.” He goes on to describe how God is on his side (verse 6), how he takes refuge in God (verse 8), how God helps him (verse 13), how valiant God’s hand truly is (verse 15), and how God disciplines him but does not condemn him (verse 18). The pinnacle verse is 17: “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.” Out of what God has done for him comes a great desire to share what God has done for him.
In a way, Holy Week is also a testimony of the deeds of the Lord. We take time to slow down and look at each day, each deed, carefully and reflectively. We envision Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We reenact the Last Supper, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and instituted Holy Communion. We imagine Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading with God to take the cup from him. We watch Jesus on trial before the chief priests, Pilate, and Herod. We kneel at the foot of the cross where Jesus died.
Just like the speaker in the Psalm, we too should recount the deeds of the Lord. We too should give our testimony. For the Lord has answered us in our distress. He has set us free. He is on our side as our refuge; he helps us valiantly; he takes the discipline that was meant for us. He is condemned for our sake. And unlike the Psalmist, he does die, but he returns to live and to recount the deeds of the Lord – his deeds. This is our testimony, and testimony is meant to be shared. Tell everyone what he has done!