By David Faust
Cook a meal, and minutes later hungry diners will consume the fruit of your labors. Build a stone wall, and others will admire your work a century from now.
It’s hard work—and an art—to lay bricks and stones. A stone wall adds character and curb appeal to a property’s landscape. A beautiful fireplace warms a house in more ways than one.
Thousands of stonecutters quarried and shaped rocks to construct Solomon’s temple, making measurements so exact that “no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built” (1 Kings 5:15-18, 6:7). In the cathedrals and castles of Europe and the pyramids of Egypt, the handiwork of skilled stonecutters endures through the ages.
The Builders’ Mistake
Psalm 118 tells about some builders who made a serious error: They bypassed a stone they should have used. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22, 23).
Jesus quoted this passage and applied it to himself (Matthew 21:42). Peter referred to it as well, portraying Jesus as the rejected cornerstone (Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7).
It’s an interesting word picture. A builder sorts through a pile of rocks selecting the ones he wants to use. One large stone sits to the side, rejected by the builder as unfit for his construction project. Then another builder (the Lord himself) selects that very stone, the one the previous builder rejected, and makes it the cornerstone of a beautiful temple.
Lessons for Us
What can we learn from “the stone the builders rejected”?
The rejected cornerstone teaches us about Jesus. Some reject him, but the Father in Heaven calls him “my Son, whom I love” (Matthew 3:17). Some scorn him, but the Father gives him “the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). Some push him aside and consider him irrelevant, but others find in Jesus the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46). Some see no need to build their lives on faith in Christ, but the Father considers him the foundation of eternal life. As Jesus put it, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (7:24).
The rejected cornerstone also challenges us to recalibrate our values. Outward appearances can be deceiving, and the choices of the crowd are often wrong. What careless sinners cast aside as unimportant and worthless, God considers useful and significant. From the Lord’s point of view, the last goes first. The unnoticed becomes prominent. The discarded has high value.
Finally, the rejected cornerstone can be a source of encouragement when we ourselves are rejected. In those moments when you feel abandoned and unwanted—you lost your job, you were bypassed for a promotion, friends snubbed or betrayed you—don’t despair. What man rejects, God selects. What man ignores, God honors. He bestows “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).
If the Lord could use a rejected stone to build a beautiful temple, what can he do with you?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for May 27, 2012
2 Samuel 20, 21
2 Samuel 22
2 Samuel 23, 24
1 Kings 1
1 Kings 2, 3