November 27, 2014

Give Thanks, His Love Endures Forever

Eric Enstrom
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
4 To him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.
5 Who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
6 Who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
7 Who made the great lights—His love endures forever.
8 The sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
9 The moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
10 To him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever.
11 And brought Israel out from among them His love endures forever.
12 With a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.
13 To him who divided the Red Sea asunder His love endures forever.
14 And brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever.
15 But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.
16 To him who led his people through the wilderness; His love endures forever.
17 To him who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.
18 And killed mighty kings—His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites His love endures forever.
20 And Og king of Bashan—His love endures forever.
21 And gave their land as an inheritance, His love endures forever.
22 An inheritance to his servant Israel. His love endures forever.
23 He remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever.
24 And freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

Psalm 136 is a song/psalm of praise. It is praise to the Lord who performs great wonders. One of the main under girding themes is the Lord’s enduring loyal love.

This is a this is a Psalm of Thanksgiving. The function of a Thanksgiving or Todah Psalm, or Psalm of Declarative Praise is to praise God for something He has done for the Psalmist. It is written to offer thanksgiving in the form of worship. It is a kind of praise offered to God that arises out of personal or communal experience yet in the context of overall commitment to God. The experiential dimension of todah psalms is easily seen in the middle section of the psalm as the worshiper recounts or gives testimony of his experience. 

This is also a Salvation History psalm to recount in some way the story of God’s creation of the people of Israel. Most often, this includes an abbreviated version of the exodus story, concluding with praise to God for his deliverance, or calling the people to respond in praise and faithfulness to God’s grace. 

(v. 1-3) Intro: A call to thank God who is “Lord of Lords” because “His love endures forever (refrain after every statement of thanks).

(v. 4-9) Creation Hymn: Gives a summary of the Lord’s “wonders” and “His love endures forever (refrain after every wonder)”.

(v. 10-22) Redemption Hymn: An excursus of the Exodus and God’s redeeming actions in it “His love endures forever (refrain after every statement of God’s redemption.

To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

...And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:

...With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.

...To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:

...And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:

...But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.

...To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

(v. 23 & 24) Redemption Hymn (summary): These two verse are also redemption hymn but they are more of a “summary redemption hymn” or a last quick reminder that whenever Israel suffered, Israel’s history of redemption continued, Egypt, the wilderness, etc.

This Psalm is also referred to as a “antiphon” or a song that was intended to be sung “antiphonally” by two distinct groups in worship. One portion of the congregation would make one of the statements or phrases and the other part would respond with the refrain, "His love endures forever." I’m guessing it sounded something similar to a cappella refrain in Bohemian Rhapsody (sorry, couldn’t think of a better example).

Here is a modern orchestral interpretation of Psalm 136.

Ross, Allen , John Walvoord. "Psalm 136." Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Bible Knowledge). Acambaro: Victor, 1985. 889. Print.

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