From Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, 45 (1555)
This prayer [Hosanna!]is drawn from Psalm 118:25. Matthew expressly relates the Hebrew words to inform us that these applauses were not laid on Christ rashly. Further, Matthew shows us that the disciples did not take the prayers which came to their lips rashly, but that they followed with reverence the form of prayer prescribed by the Holy Spirit to the whole church by the mouth of the prophet in the psalms.
For though he [i.e. David] speaks there of his own kingdom, yet there is no reason to doubt that David principally looks, and intends others to look, to the eternal succession which the Lord had promised to him. He drew up a perpetual form of prayer which would be observed even when the wealth of the kingdom was gone. And, therefore, it was a prevailing custom that prayers for the promised redemption were generally presented in these words.
And Matthew’s purpose was, as we have just hinted, to quote in Hebrew a well-known psalm, to demonstrate that Christ was acknowledged by the multitude as redeemer. The pronunciation of the words, indeed, is changed somewhat, for it ought to have been written “Hoshiana,” that is, “Save now, we beseech you” [Son of David]…
God did not enjoin this daily prayer for the kingdom of Christ on the ancient people alone, but the same rule is now laid down for us. Certainly, as it is the will of God to reign only in the person of his Son, when we say “May your kingdom come,” under this petition is expressed the same thing which is expressed more clearly in the psalm.
Besides, when we pray to God to maintain his Son as our king, we acknowledge that this kingdom was not built by human beings and is not maintained by the power of human beings but remains invincible through heavenly protection. He is said to come “in the name of God,” who not only conducts himself, but receives the kingdom by the command and appointment of God.
John Calvin (1509-1564) was one of the most influential theologians of the Protestant Reformation, who served for many decades as the chief pastor of Geneva. He wrote commentaries on most books of the Bible, which were reworked from lectures he gave to theological students. He is commemorated on May 26 or May 28 on the liturgical calendars of several Anglican churches.