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Psalms At the Passover: Matthew 26:30


From S. Lewis Johnson’s Gospel of Matthew series, an interesting item from Matthew 26:30 (“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”)  I had never really thought about that brief statement and what it referred to, but here we have more background concerning the Passover and the Psalms that were sung.

The Great Hallel, Psalms 113-118, was sung at every Passover:  Psalms 113-114 at the beginning, and Psalms 115-118 at the end of the service.  This set of psalms is also called the “Egyptian Hallel” according to the MacArthur Bible Commentary, which also mentions two other Hallels in scripture, Psalms 120-136 “The Great Hallel” and Psalms 145-150 the “Final Hallel.”  All agree that Psalms 113-118 were sung at the Passover service.

So reading through Psalms 115 through 118 help us focus on the thoughts of the Lord Jesus and his disciples that night.

  • Psalm 115 begins with focus on God’s glory:  Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But unto Your name give glory.
  • Psalm 116 is the story of a passing through death to life and service.  Consider the following great verses:

The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

and verses 15-16:

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
​​​​​​​​O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.

  • Psalm 117 (only two verses) is the psalm of universal praise following upon that passing through death to life and service.
  • Psalm 118 has the refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever,” and ends on that note.

As G. Campbell Morgan observes, “Thus the King came to the darkness of the Cross singing of the enduring loving-kindness of GOD.”

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