Psalm 136 - Praise Without Petition

INTRODUCTION: This psalm, or song, is composed only to promote praise and worship to the LORD. There are no requests or petitions from the psalmist, only a listing of many wondrous things the LORD had done. Every line of praise is concluded with the reminder that the mercy of the LORD endures forever. That kind and compassionate treatment of the LORD is everlasting because he has forgiven the sin of those who have placed full trust in him by faith.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the American King James Bible.


A - HE IS THE GOD OF GODS AND THE LORD OF LORDS

Psalm 136 "1 O give thanks to the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever. 2 O give thanks to the God of gods: for his mercy endures for ever. 3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endures for ever. 4 To him who alone does great wonders: for his mercy endures for ever."

COMMENTS: The psalmist encourages us to give thanks to The LORD (in all capital letters) because he is good. This is Yahweh in the Hebrew, who is the only true and living God, and goodness is an immutable part of his nature. He is the ruler and judge who is far above all others who might be called gods or lords. The Hebrew word used herein for God is the same whether capitalized or not, and another Hebrew word that is used for Lord is the same whether capitalized or not. The AKJV translation uses a capital letter in this psalm for added emphasis in this comparison about Yahweh because king of kings could be applied to a man who was considered above other kings. An example of this is in a reference when Daniel speaks to Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 2 "37 You, O king, are a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory." Paul wrote to Timothy about the only true King of kings as we look toward his appearing. 1 Timothy 6 "15 Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen." The psalmist concluded this section by setting apart the true God as the one who alone does wonders that have no comparison among mere men.


B - THE LORD GOD IS CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

Psalm 136 "5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endures for ever. 6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endures for ever. 7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy endures for ever: 8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endures for ever: 9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endures for ever."

COMMENTS: The psalmist next proclaimed that Yahweh is the creator of heaven and earth by his wisdom, as he poetically gave a very condensed account of the first four days of creation. The account in Genesis of those four days emphasized that the creation of God is good. Genesis 1 "1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the middle of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. 9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day. 14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light on the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light on the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day."


C - THE LORD BROUGHT ISRAEL OUT OF EGYPT FOR HIMSELF

Psalm 136 "10 To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endures for ever: 11 And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endures for ever: 12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endures for ever. 13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endures for ever: 14 And made Israel to pass through the middle of it: for his mercy endures for ever: 15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endures for ever. 16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endures for ever."

COMMENTS: Without completing the creation account or making any reference to hundreds of years of other history, the psalmist moved directly to the final plague in Egypt as the LORD brought Israel out of captivity to become a nation to glorify his name. Verse ten should be a reminder that even though all the firstborn in Egypt died bringing about much grief, the firstborn in the tents of Israel were spared because in faith the families put the blood of the sacrifice on the door post and lintels of their tents. This protected the firstborn of Israel by the mercy of God that endures forever! Because of that great mercy, when the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt by his mighty hand, the Egyptians favored them with many valuable gifts. By the LORD's mercy the Red sea was miraculously opened to provide an escape route from Pharaoh's pursuing army, but that same opening became a death trap as the LORD brought the waters back together and destroyed the army while Israel only had to watch without defending themselves. After that the LORD led Israel through the wilderness because of his mercy.


D - THE LORD DEFEATED GREAT KINGS TO GIVE ISRAEL THEIR LANDS

Psalm 136 "17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endures for ever: 18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endures for ever: 19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endures for ever: 20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endures for ever: 21 And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endures for ever: 22 Even an heritage to Israel his servant: for his mercy endures for ever."

COMMENTS: As the Psalmist continued his theme of the LORD's mercy that endures forever, he moves past the forty year period as a generation rebelled against the LORD while Israel was in the wilderness, and that generation died without entering the promised land . This psalm is designed to highlight the blessing given because of the LORD's mercy, for those who will seek after the LORD for many generations to come. This king named Sihon had taken much land from the Moabites who had turned away from the LORD to worship Kimosh. Israel had requested to peacefully pass through Sihon's kingdom, but he attacked them and the LORD made Israel victorious and gave them that land as a possession. Og was another powerful king, but when he attacked Israel the LORD again gave them victory and his land became their possession. The verses are clear that the LORD gave those lands for a heritage to Israel his servant.


E - THE LORD REDEEMS HIS SERVANTS FROM ALL THEIR ENEMIES

Psalm 136 "23 Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endures for ever: 24 And has redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endures for ever. 25 Who gives food to all flesh: for his mercy endures for ever. 26 O give thanks to the God of heaven: for his mercy endures for ever."

COMMENTS: If we are indeed servants of the LORD, we need to remember that he has shown us his everlasting mercy as we recognize that we are in a low and humble position as servants that he loves. James 4 "10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." The LORD will some day snatch away from all enemies those who have trusted in his everlasting mercy. There are many enemies all around the believers, for whoever has not trusted Christ is still part of this present world. Even though there may not be an open threat to the servants of Christ, the potential is always there until the believer goes to be with the Lord. John 15 "18 If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also."

The LORD's mercy endures forever as he will continue to provide the means for food for all living creatures through his creation of natural processes. The LORD's invitation is open to all for new life as the psalmist closes with the encouragement to all to give thanks to the LORD because his mercy endures forever once it is received. Jude 1 "20 But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." If we know we have received that mercy, we need to leave the past behind and press on in our daily lives with our eyes fixed on eternity with Jesus. Philippians 3 "12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

I praise you LORD, that you are far above all others who may be called gods or lords by men. There is no other true and living God, and no god of man's imagination who can do the wonders that display your enduring mercy. You, LORD, are the creator of heaven and earth and all of the abundance wonderful things they contain. When you created them they were all good in your sight. As you have prepared an abundant world for us in this present life, you are preparing an eternal dwelling where all those who have received your salvation will henceforth be with you forever. You, LORD, used a long period of slavery in Egypt to prepare a people that you then brought out through your power alone to become the distinct nation of Israel for the glory of your great name. You, LORD, separated them from other people, not because they were more deserving, but because of your great mercy.

I thank you LORD, that you have continued over many centuries to separate out of the world those who have placed faith in the finished work of Christ Jesus, again showing that your mercy endures forever. We should acknowledge that you bring all the victories in our lives as Christians, just as you were the one who brought about victory for Israel when they were confronted by mighty kings with there armies. If we humbly submit to you knowing the great love you have for those who serve you, you will certainly redeem us from all of our enemies in this world, and it is a special blessing that there are no enemies for anyone in heaven. You, LORD, mercifully provide food for all living creatures, and your Word is food for the soul of man. My LORD and Savior, I praise you and give thanks to you because your mercy endures forever. Amen.

Published 27 March 2014