Psalms 113-118 Read or Sung at the Passover Meal
When Matthew records that Christ and his apostles sung an hymn and went to the Mount of Olives, they were following the prescribed Passover tradition of reciting "Hallel." Instructions for performing the "Hallel" are as follows:
- Use the special Passover Hallel. All 6 Psalms of the Hallel are recited in their entirety, but in 2 parts.
- Conduct the Passover Seder. This is a ritual feast conducted on the first night of Passover. The Hallel recited during the Seder is unique in that it is recited during the day on all other occasions.
- Raise and hold the second cup at Magid, the fifth part of the Seder. The first part of the Hallel is introduced with 10 expressions of praise. These expressions represent the 10 plagues of Egypt.
- Recite Psalms 113 and 114 just before the drinking of the second cup of wine while sitting down. This is the only time the Hallel is recited in 2 parts. Women are obligated to recite the Hallel at this time unlike other occasions. The leader of the Seder recites the first part of each Psalm and the other attendants recite the last part of each Psalm in response.
- Recite Psalms 115 through 118 during the 13th part of the Seder, also while sitting down. This part of the Seder is actually called the Hallel and is done just before drinking the fourth cup of wine. (http://www.ehow.com/how_2145844_recite-hallel-passover.html)
The last four Psalms, 115-118, are Messianic as well. During the Last Supper, their recitation must have been especially poignant to the Master. He probably was the only one at the table who knew how literally, and how immediately, they would be fulfilled.
Psalm 115 compares the God of the heavens to idols made of the hands of men. It reminds Israel to trust in the Lord. It promises Israel and the house of Aaron blessings that will be realized in the Millennium.
Psalm 116 bemoans the pains of death and hell, then praises the Lord for overcoming them, "For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling" (v. 8). The Atoning Power only comes if Jesus fulfills his mission. The Savior's immediate mission is drinking the bitter cup of our salvation as mentioned, "I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord" (v. 13). But it wasn't easy, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done." (Lu 22:42)
Psalm 117 reads:
O Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.
Psalm 118 reflects on common themes of mercy, trusting in the Lord, and praising Him, but also prophesies that "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes" (v. 22-23). Truly, it is marvelous in our eyes that the Jehovah of the Old Testament would be born as the Jesus of the New Testament. Truly, it is marvelous in our eyes that God's Son would condescend to save us from our sins (1 Ne. 11:26). Truly it is marvelous in our eyes that Jesus of Nazareth, the cornerstone of the Kingdom of God, could be rejected by those who should have been the first to recognize his divinity. Truly, it is marvelous in our eyes that the Son of God would suffer and be crucified for the sins of the world. Incredulous as well, Nephi wrote, "the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record" (1 Ne. 11:32). The implication is if Nephi hadn't seen it with his own eyes, he would not have believed it.
Bruce R. McConkie
The meaning here is clear. The Jews reject their Messiah, but he nonetheless becomes and remains the Stone which holds the whole structure of salvation together, a thing that is marvelous in all eyes.
At this point we might well insert these words of Nephi's brother Jacob: "I perceive by the workings of the Spirit which is in me," he said, "that by the stumbling of the Jews they will reject the stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation." So he speaks of the rejection by the Jews of their King. "But behold, according to the scriptures," he says-speaking of a yet future day when the Jews, at the Second Coming, will be converted-"this stone shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation, upon which the Jews can build." (Jacob 4:15-16.) (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 174)