This psalm forms a chiastic structure:
1A: Psa 118:1-4, Oh give thanks to the LORD for He is good! For His mercy endures forever!
1B: Psa 118:5-13, I called on the LORD in my distress;
1C: Psa 118:14a, The LORD is my strength and song;
1D: Psa 118:14b-16, The LORD my salvation + voice of rejoicing/ salvation/ righteous + right hand exalted;
CENTRAL AXIS: Psa 118:17-18, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death;”
2D: Psa 118:19-23, Praise/ gates of righteousness/ righteous + LORD my salvation + chief cornerstone;
2C: Psa 118:24, This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it;
2B: Psa 118:25-28, Save now, I pray, O LORD;
2A: Psa 118:29, Oh give thanks to the LORD for He is good! For His mercy endures forever!
What I learned from this structure, was that, first of all, no matter what, we have just cause to give thanks to the LORD, for He is good (at all times and in all places) and His mercy endures forever!
Within that encompassing, eternal truth, we may be facing distress (B pair), man arrayed against us, hatred, and violence; so that we need the LORD to deliver us, save us, provide for us, and light our way in the dark place. I know I am there.
Now, what we need to remember, when facing distress, hatred, violence, and darkness, is that the LORD is our strength, and song (C pair). You know, sometimes, we just can’t get through our circumstances on our own strength. Sometimes we just can’t rejoice because of our circumstances. But we can always sing and rejoice in the constancy, faithfulness, mercy, and excellence of the LORD! The day might seem dark, with all that is arrayed against us, but it is the day the LORD has made, and we will (an act of the will) rejoice and be glad in the day, no matter how dark, because the LORD is not dark, and He has a plan and a purpose for the day!
Now sometimes when the circumstances, the enemy, and the day is so dark before us, the enemy can lie and say it would be better to check out of this life early, go home to be with the LORD, and leave all this pain and trial behind. But the central axis of the psalm tells us truth: I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD! He might have chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death!
Therefore, beloved, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever!