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Psalm 136. His love endures in uncertain times.

Discussion in 'The Chapel' started by charliesgrave, Mar 27, 2020.

  1. charliesgrave

    charliesgrave cosmoline enthusiast Benefactor Life Member Supporting Member

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    This psalm is a simple one; at face value there's nothing hard to understand in it's words; in fact it's so simple even a new Christians should be able to understand it pretty easily, but what is harder to do, is to implement it. To apply it. Because it repeats it's self 26 times, at first I found myself skipping over the repetitions, the chorus, to see what was being said. And it's easy to do that, to brush aside that repetition as superfluous, but when we do that, we miss the driving theme of the psalm, that the Lord's steadfast love, does in fact, endure forever. It's been said when the bible repeats it's self, we should listen carefully. In fact, we learn through repetition, so let us learn that the Lord's steadfast love does endure forever.

    His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

    136 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
    2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
    3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

    4 to him who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    7 to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    8 the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

    10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    11 and brought Israel out from among them,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    15 but overthrewa]">[a] Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

    17 to him who struck down great kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    18 and killed mighty kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    20 and Og, king of Bashan,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    21 and gave their land as a heritage,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

    23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    24 and rescued us from our foes,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
    25 he who gives food to all flesh,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

    26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.


    If we ever wonder what God has done for us, if we ever wonder if His love does endure forever, we should look back at the mercies of our lives. The psalmist does that here for Israel; he reminds them of who God is, where they were, and how God delivered them, how he watches over and protects them, how his providence guides them.
    Many times we only see God's mercy in retrospect. When we're doing our 40 years in a desert, we don't always take time to thank God, or to look for His hand in our situation. Instead we're like Israel, complaining, accusing God, being wistful for bondage and slavery because it seemed easier. And I am the worst for this. It's one of my greatest failings, that in the moment, I am full of worry and anxiety, and it's only afterwards I praise God for his enduring love.
    But His love endures forever. His mercy never comes to an end; it is new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.
    His providence is true, He's worthy of praise. And all of this is true when life is hard too. If we only praised God in times of complete ease, I don't know that any of us would very often. Sometimes we are so stubborn it takes God's chastening to remind us how very weak and dependent on God we are. And while this is going on, instead of praising God, we despair. But this is for our good, and for God's glory. He chastens us as sons because we are. And this should cause us to praise God.
    As we are tried, the testing of our faith produces steadfastness; and this is why James writes in his epistle that we can consider these trials “all joy”.
    Paul says rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
     
    Donnie D and ronn47 like this.
  2. charliesgrave

    charliesgrave cosmoline enthusiast Benefactor Life Member Supporting Member

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    When I read this psalm, it makes me want to go back over the details of my life, looking for God's providence. To write down all the places where no one but God could have delivered me. I want to see where his steadfast love was on display in His care for me. I want to see where began to teach me steadfastness through trials. When Israel sung this psalm, it wasn't hypothetical; this is what they had endured as a people.
    What we have to do then is not only see the example of God's mercy on display in Israel, but in our own lives as well. The cannon of scripture may be closed, but God has not ceased loving His people. Every single man or woman in Christ has lived a different life than every other person, but if you are His, you have all been privy to God's steadfast love.
    If you have trouble praising God, if you have trouble expressing thanksgiving, or if it seems tedious to you there are two things you should do.
    First, you need to figure out who God is, because if you don't stand in awe of God, you probably haven't really considered who He is. You haven't weighed his holiness against your utter unrighteousness and come up lacking. You haven't considered his absolute perfection, his sovereign reign over the creation He made. You haven't seen his mercy in his dealing with fallen man, you haven't considered the sacrificial love of Christ.
     
  3. charliesgrave

    charliesgrave cosmoline enthusiast Benefactor Life Member Supporting Member

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    Second, you need to realize that the contents of your life are the concern of this same God. He hasn't left you alone to flounder. There is no such thing as chance when God exists. You aren't randomly going from trial to trial without reason, without hope. Look back over the details of your life and see that God's steadfast love does endure forever. God knows every hair on your head, he was the one who opened to womb to give you life. He created the world around you to sustain you biologically. He gave you people to guide and raise you; to help you survive to adulthood. He foreknew you and set His love upon you. He dug up your stinking corpse from the deepest grave, where you were waiting for Hell, and he breathed life into you; put his spirit in you, and called you out of your darkness, making you alive with Christ.
    Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. 26 times it is repeated in this psalm, do you think it was for no reason? It's not artistic license. It's true.

    I pray for myself that I can truly lay hold of this, and that it produces true thanksgiving in my heart. And I pray the same for you, believer. That our "amen" isn't empty, and that our praise is not dependent on how we might be feeling on a given day, but is instead based on the surety of who God is, and that within that, the knowledge that His steadfast love does endures forever.