When we begin reading Psalm 136, we discover that this psalm is different from the rest. Just look at the first few verses:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever. He alone does great wonders. His faithful love endures forever” (Psalms 136:1-3 CSB).
At the end of every phrase (every verse as it is in our Bibles) we find the same thing: “His faithful love endures forever” (or something similar – “his steadfast love endures forever” (ESV); “his love endures forever” (NIV); “his loyal love endures forever” (NET); “his lovingkindness is everlasting” (NASB)). I think we get the idea. God’s love is unchanging and it never ends. One thing we can count on is that God’s love will always be there.
Many think that this was to be used as a responsive reading in worship. The worship leader would read the first part and the congregation would answer with “his faithful love endures forever.” This emphasizes that God’s faithful love can be seen in all that he does.
God’s love is seen in the creation. “He made the heavens skillfully…He spread the land on the waters…He made the great lights:…the sun to rule by day,…the moon and stars to rule by night” (Psalms 136:5-9). These creative acts were by a loving God who created man to live in his creation.
God’s love is seen in the way he took care of his people, Israel. He delivered them from Egypt, led them through the Red Sea while Pharaoh and his army were destroyed, kept them through the wilderness, defeated kings and gave Israel their land for an inheritance (Psalm 136:10-22). It was because of God’s love for them that they were sustained, delivered, and brought into the land of their inheritance.
God continued to look after his people. “He remembered us in our humiliation, His faithful love endures forever. And rescued us from our foes. His faithful love endures forever. He gives food to every creature. His faithful love endures forever” (Psalms 136:23-25). This is as true for us today as when the psalmist wrote it. It is because of God that we have all the necessities of life as well as the blessings that we enjoy.
Perhaps these last few verses have an even greater application to us as Christians. God did remember us in our “humiliation” – it was when we were sinners that he sent Jesus to rescue us, not from human foes, but from the greatest foe: sin. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6,8).
God sending Jesus to die proves God’s love for us. God’s love, indeed, is faithful and it endures forever!
Because of all that God did for Israel, from the creation through creating a nation and taking care of them, the psalmist ends the way he began – expressing his thanks to God. “Give thanks to the God of heaven! His faithful love endures forever” (Psalms 136:26).
Paul, in Romans 5, came to the same conclusion. Because of what God has done through Jesus, “we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation” (Romans 5:11).
No matter what circumstances we go through, God’s love is faithful and will always be there.
Readings for next week:
17 December – Psalm 132, 135
18 December – Psalm 136, 138
19 December – Psalm 139-140
20 December – Psalm 141, 143-144
21 December – Psalm 145-146