Yahweh Is for Me
(1) Give thanks to Yahweh, for (he is) good, for his steadfast love (endures) forever. (2) Let Israel say, “His steadfast love (endures) forever.” (3) Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love (endures) forever.” (4) Let those who fear Yahweh say, “His steadfast love (endures) forever.” (5) From (my) distress I called on Yahweh, and Yahweh answered me (and set me) in a large place. (6) Yahweh (is) for me. I will not fear. What can man do to me? (7) Yahweh (is) for me. (He is) my helper. I shall look (in triumph) on those who hate me.
Several striking repetitions mark these opening verses. First, the chant-like repetition of “his steadfast love (endures) forever” (four times in vss. 1-4) provides an obvious praise emphasis. Additionally we should note three repetitions of “let...say” (vss. 2-4). Twice in one verse Yahweh’s name is invoked (vs. 5) along with single mentions of his name (vss. 1, 4, 6, & 7). In the final two verses, we find the phrase, “Yahweh (is) for me,” repeated.
The structure of this segment would lead us to believe that at least the first four verses were designed for use in public worship as a type of thanksgiving liturgy with the worship leader reading the first line of each verse and the congregation responding in unison with the second line. In Psalm 136 we will see an entire psalm structured this way.
I. Chorus of praise (1-4)
II. Crisis resolved (5)
III. Confidence expressed (6 & 7)
Because Yahweh is on our side, we will praise and trust him in every situation that we face.
Paul posed the following rhetorical question in his epistle to the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)? This question was not intended to gain information but to make the following point: because no one is greater than God, we need never worry about any opposition if God is on our side. To paraphrase the old cliché, “God and I constitute a majority in every situation.”
This is precisely the thrust of our segment. We offer our heartfelt praise to Yahweh for the constant protection and blessing he provides for those who trust in him. By describing the crisis he faced in non-specific terms (vs. 5), the psalmist emphasizes that we need never fear any difficulties we might face. If God is for us, what can anything or anyone possibly do to oppose us or to harm us?