The portions of Psalm 118 selected for use at the Liturgy of the Palms are a perfect choice. The bookend of verse 1 and 29 which are the same phrase, repeated verbatim, make it an ideal Psalm for the Triumphal Entry.
The second half of that phrase includes one of my favorite words in all of Scripture – hesed – which is translated as mercy, but means something even fuller and richer than that. This word speaks to the steadfast love of God, a love which is from everlasting and will continue on forever. It isn’t just that his mercy endures forever, but that his steadfast love, his never-ending compassion endures for ever. It is a double promise: never ending love that will never end.
It’ll sure look like it has come to an end. In the course of the liturgy, it’ll take mere minutes before the hesed of God dies on the cross. In the life and ministry of Jesus, it’ll be just a few days before the people will reject the mystery of God’s steadfast love for the security of the Pax Romana. Like the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness, grumbling against God and Moses and wishing for the good old days of slavery in Egypt, the crowd gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover feast will seek out the stability of slavery over the vulnerability of freedom.
How often do we make that same choice? We choose the comfort of our own selfishness or our own victim-hood narrative or our own self-righteousness over the perceived insecurity of God. Yet the promise of God is love that lasts forever: a never ending love that will never end.