Exegetical Notes: Psalm 136: 1-5, 10-15, 23-26

1. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

“Give thanks to the Lord” – The obvious application to the recognition of God’s enduring steadfast love is to “give thanks”. The call to thanksgiving is given 3x in the first 3 verses.

“for he is good” – A character trait. God’s hesed endures for eternity because His steadfast love flows from who He is. He is good.

“steadfast love” – Heb. – “hesed or chesed“. often translated as lovingkindness. The word communicates God’s devotion, loyalty, mercy, and unchanging love.

“endures forever” – meaning God’s hesed is forever, perpetual, permanent.

“his steadfast love endures forever” – It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to notice the focus of this psalm. The phrase “for his steadfast love endures foreveer” is used in each of the 26 verses.

Because it is repeated as it is, many have suggested it was used as a type of musical responsive reading (or singing in this case).

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

“God of gods” – meaning “the greatest of all gods”. Perhaps highlighting the omnipotence of God.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;

“Lord of lords” – meaning “the mightiest of all rulers”. Perhaps highlighting the sovreignty of God.

to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Stemming from verses 1-3, the psalmist concludes that God “alone” is deserving of praise, because He alone (only He) could accomplish the great and wonderful act of creation.

Verses 5-9 highlight God’s hesed, greatness, and wonder displayed in his creating the earth.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Ro 1:19–20.

The belief in God as creator, and His worthiness of praise for doing so comes only through fiath. Notice Heb. 11:3. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. ”

to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;

two possible meanings:

  • God’s wisdom is manifest in His creation of the heavens.
  • Because God is wise, He made the heavens.

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;1with 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 overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Verses 10-15: The psalmist also highlights God’s dealings with Israel during the Exodus as evidence of His eternal, enduring steadfast love.

THEO: Some argue that God, in His love is “fair” to everyone. This is most often used in current debates centered around election and God’s calling of individuals. However, verses 10-15 have a taste of unfairness if you consider them from an Egyptian perspective, note the contrast in verse 15 with the conjunction “but”. Reading verses 17-22 make this point more evident. In honesty, their is little fairness in grace, as it has been said, “Favor ain’t fair.” The focus on God’s hesed is on His people.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Verses 23-26 conclude the pslam with God’s compassionate care for His people as a motive for giving Him thanks.

“in our low estate” – Some scholarssee this as a reference to a particular event, namely, the Babylonian exile. This may be the case, but scripture is clear concerning God’s regard for the humble. See: Matthew 5:3-5; James 4:6-8.

24 and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever;

“rescued” – used also in Psalm 7:2 and translated as “deliver”.

This verse is ultimately fulfilled in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For in it, God has delivered us from the power and penalty of sin.

2he who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.

“gives food to all flesh” – See Matthew 6:11; 25-34.

God’s provision displays His lovingkindness. However, a freezer full of food or running though a drive through may often make us lose sight of God’s provision. No matter the supply or ease of obtaining it, every morsel is from God’s provision.

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

“Give thanks” – The application of the psalm is repeated once again in the final verse of the psalm.

“the God of heaven” – The only description of God as such in the Psalms. It is most likely to be understood as “the God who lives in heaven” or “the God who rules from heaven”.

3 Replies to “Exegetical Notes: Psalm 136: 1-5, 10-15, 23-26”

  1. Pingback: FunnelMode.com

Comments are closed.