22 “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:22–23 (ESV)
Psalm 118 is an anonymous psalm. Aside from the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21), we do not know who the human author was. How, the two verses which comprise today’s text are very familiar to students of Scripture. They are quoted in three of the four Gospels (Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10–11; Luke 20:17). Luke also references the verses in Acts 4:8-12. The Apostle Peter records the verses in his first epistle (I Peter 2:7).
The metaphor used is of a cornerstone. Jesus used this term to speak of himself in the parable of the wicked tenants (Mt 21:42; Mk 12:10; Lk 20:17). The setting for this parable was his final ministry in Jerusalem after he had cleansed the temple. The Parable of the Tenants speaks of the coming death of Jesus in symbolic terms. Jesus concluded it by referring the Jewish leaders back to their own Scriptures, specifically Psalm 118:22–23 (cf. Is 28:16). The Lord understood the text as speaking of his rejection and exaltation. The Jewish leaders rejected Jesus, but God the Father would exalt Him as the cornerstone.
Isaiah 53:3 parallels the rejection spoken by the psalmist. Isaiah says concerning the Messiah, “3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. He was despised, and we held him of no account.”
The Apostle John also referred to the rejection of the Eternal Word of God by the Jewish people. The rejection of the Savior was all within the sovereign and providential plan of God the Father.
John 1:1-5, 9-12 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
9 “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,”
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary explains that, “It is evident that the OT concept of cornerstone is applied to Jesus to emphasize his exalted position with the Father and so to encourage the believer. In Ephesians 2:20 brief reference is also made to Christ Jesus as the cornerstone upon which the church is built.”
Consider the following by Christian musician and lyricist Chris Rice. The song is entitled Welcome to Our World.
Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome Holy Child [Repeat: x1]
Hope that You don’t mind our manger
How I wish we could have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home
Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven’s silence
Welcome to our world [Repeat: x1]
Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born [Repeat: x1]
So wrap our injured flesh around you
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sins and make us holy
Perfect Son of God [Repeat: x1]
Welcome to our world
Soli deo Gloria!