Question: "What does it mean that "this is the day that the Lord has made" (Psalm 118:24)?"
Answer: Psalm 118:24 is a celebratory Bible verse often cited in Sunday worship services and wedding ceremonies. The full verse reads, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24, ESV). Historically, the passage was part of a liturgy of praise in which worshipers recognized a feast day for giving thanks to God. With these words, the people acknowledged that God had established the day for a special purpose, and, therefore, they would carry out His purpose by rejoicing and being glad in it.
Psalm 118 is the last of the “Hallel” or “praise” psalms (Psalms 113—118). These psalms were sung by the Jewish people in their joyous annual festivals, and especially as part of the Passover meal observances. The language and theme of Psalm 118 link it decisively to Israel’s exodus from Egypt. It was recited in remembrance of God’s great love and deliverance in freeing them from bondage to their cruel enemies.
The tone of Psalm 118 is joyful and trusting and seems to have been specifically composed for a service of thanksgiving. The author, or celebrant, enters the temple courts together with a company of worshipers and gives thanks to the Lord in a sort of liturgy involving the congregation and ministers of the sanctuary. After inviting the community to unite in thanksgiving and praise (verses 2–4), the writer celebrates the Lord’s steadfast love, His deliverance from death, and His ongoing protection and care.
The entire psalm commemorates God’s victory over the enemies of Israel (Psalm 118:10–17). In this context, we can fully understand the statement, “This is the day that the Lord has made.” The people were recognizing that this day of feasting and celebration was the Lord’s doing. Because the Lord had triumphed over their enemies, God’s people could now praise and worship Yahweh for His victory. In other words, the people were declaring, “This is the day we remember when the Lord defeated our enemies.” The New International Version renders the verse like so: “The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.” They had been delivered, and the Lord had made it happen.
Psalm 118 also contains multiple Messianic references. Jesus quoted the psalm to describe how His own people would reject him as the cornerstone, and the apostle Peter furthered the same theme (Psalm 118:22, cf. Matthew 21:42; 1 Peter 2:6–8). When Christ entered triumphantly into Jerusalem, the people quoted from this psalm, as well (Psalm 118:26; cf. Matthew 21:9).
By living on earth, dying on a cross, and resurrecting to life again, Jesus Christ accomplished complete victory over all God’s enemies. This is the day that the Lord had made—the day that found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ! Today, believers in Jesus can rejoice and be glad because we live in a brand-new day of triumph. Death and hell have been conquered through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 1:18). Everyone who believes in Him will never die but, instead, be given life eternal (John 3:16; 11:25–26).
For the children of God, every day is the day the Lord has made. Christians can rejoice and be glad for God’s enduring love, His deliverance from sin and death, His constant protection and care, and His gift of eternal life in Christ.