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The Best Palm Sunday

Psalm 115  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:28
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For the past two weeks and continuing through Easter we will be looking at Psalm 113-118. These sex psalms are known as the Egyptian Hallel. Egyptian for the Exodus from Egypt and Hallel for the Hebrew word for praise. Of the six Egyptian Hallel psalms, the one most commonly associated with Palm Sunday is Psalm 118. The reason for this is easy to see, the crowds quoted directly from Psalm 118.
Psalm 118:26 ESV
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.
However, Psalm 115 is just as much, if not more so a “Palm Sunday Psalm,” for in this Psalm we have a glimpse at the Best Palm Sunday Ever—the eternal Palm Sunday, where the praises unto God and His Messiah go on forever and ever! We find reference to this Best Palm Sunday Ever in Psalm 115:17-18:
Psalm 115:17–18 ESV
The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!
There are three important questions that are answered in Psalm 115:
When Will the Best Palm Sunday Happen?
Who Will Celebrate the Best Palm Sunday?
Who Will Not Celebrate the Best Palm Sunday?
Let us begin with the first question:

When Will the Best Palm Sunday Happen?

We find the answer to this first question in verses 17-18.
Verse 18 tells us that there is coming a day when people will cry out, “Bless the Lord” and their praise of God will never end.
What a vivid contrast to the first Palm Sunday, the cries of praise to Jesus quickly transformed into cries to have Him crucified! If not cries to crucify Him, then words of denial by Peter and silence by John. What a sorry confession the two disciples made on the road to Emmaus, “But we had hoped he was the one who would redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).
I point out these failing, not in prideful judgement, but in the sad realization that my praise of Jesus is also short-lived. For me, Palm Sunday has always been a bittersweet day, on one hand I love the joyful praise, on the other hand I am convicted and sadden by the reminder of how short-lived my praise can be. This is why I love the promise we find in verse 18.
Twenty-three times in the book of Psalms the Hebrew word Hallelujah occurs. It is in the text before you. It is the closing three words in our English bibles, “Praise the Lord!” That is what Hallelujah means—Praise the Lord! Psalm 115 was one of the last psalms written and for almost 500 years the Hallelujahs fell silent in Scripture, but then on the island of Patmos, on the Lord’s Day (a Sunday), the apostle John was given a vision and the Hallelujahs began again!
Revelation 19:6–8 ESV
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
God was holding back the best for last to make it clear to His people When the Best Palm Sunday would happen—at the marriage supper of the Lamb!
This is even more evident when we compare Revelation 19 to Revelation 7, which is a vision of the same event, but from a different angle.
Revelation 7:9–10 ESV
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Did you catch that? The multitude praising God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, have palm branches in their hands!
What a glorious Palm Sunday that will be! Will you be in it? Let us find out.

Who Will Celebrate the Best Palm Sunday?

The opening words of Psalm 115--”Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory”—are probably more famous than the psalm itself. William Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling all quoted these words.
What is so powerful about these words that the greatest authors of English literature all quote them?
They express a heart devoted to the glory and praise of God.
But how does a heart come to such self-abasing devotion to the glory of God? Psalm 115 provides us with the answer—at the heart of this Psalm is Trust in the Lord and the firm conviction that God Will Bless His People.
We find the first truth in verses 9-11:
Psalm 115:9–11 ESV
O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
Three times the people of God are called to “trust in the Lord.” And why? Because “He is their help and their shield.”
Psalm 115 was written either during or shortly after the Babylonian Exile. God’s people had been defeated and humiliated at the hands of the Babylonians. More importantly, in the eyes of the world, Israel’s God had been defeated and humiliated. In their eyes, the nation’s gods who were victorious in battle were the superior gods. As a result, the nations mocked the Jews, “Where is your God?”
Israel did not take this slander of God laying down, they turn the question back on their tormentors.
Psalm 115:2–3 ESV
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
It was as if the Israelites were saying, “What a stupid question? Of course, you can’t see our God, He is in heaven. More than that, He has the power to do whatever He pleases!” The Psalm goes on to contrast the true God with the false gods of the nations.
Psalm 115:4–8 ESV
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.
Our God is in heaven and He does whatever He pleases. Your gods are on earth and they cannot do anything!
It is at this point that the psalm, beginning at verse 9, calls people to trust in the Lord. You see, it always comes down to trust.
Who are you trusting in?
The person or the thing you trust in is what you will become like in the end! Those who trust in the Lord will become like Him in holiness, righteousness and knowledge. Those who trust in created things will become like them!
It is not hard to imagine the response of Israel’s tormentors, they would say, “O really? Why is it we are blessed and you are not? Why are we the victors and you are the vanquished? Why are we the rulers and you are the slaves.” This is why the next verses of this Psalm are so important.
Psalm 115:12–13 ESV
The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great.
God has not forgotten His people, He remembers them and He WILL bless them. In perfect symmetry, all those who trust God WILL be blessed by Him.
Israel trusts in the Lord, Israel WILL be blessed by the Lord!
The house of Aaron trusts in the Lord, the house of Aaron WILL be blessed by the Lord!
Those who fear the Lord trust in the Lord, those who fear the Lord WILL be blessed by the Lord!
You can add your name to this list:
_____ trusts in the Lord, ______ WILL be blessed by the Lord.
However, the fate of those who trust in idols, rather than in the Lord is much different.
Psalm 115:17 ESV
The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence.
This brings us to the final question:

Who Will Not Celebrate the Best Palm Sunday?

We know the “dead” in verse 17 are not the dead in general, but those who are “dead in their trespasses and sins.” We know this because the “dead” in verse 17 are contrasted to the great congregation praising God in verse 18.
Psalm 115:18 ESV
But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!
That word “but” is all important. It tells us that the “dead” in verse 17 are not those who are praising God at the Best Palm Sunday. You see, not everyone is invited to the Lamb’s wedding feast. Not everyone is allowed in heaven. In John’s vision of the Best Palm Sunday, he sees that the New Jerusalem is surrounded by a great wall, and…
Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 22:15 and Revelation 21:27)
I would be remiss if I did not ask you before I conclude this sermon, “Is your name written in the Lamb’s book of life?”
The only way to ensure that you will sing the Hallelujah Chorus on the Best Palm Sunday is by trusting in the Lord, by trusting in the free gift of salvation offered to you by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Will you not come and trust in the Lord, that you may live forever to sing God’s praise?
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