Yahweh’s Steadfast Love
(1) Give thanks to Yahweh, 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) (Give thanks) to him who alone does great wonders – for his steadfast love (endures) forever. (5) (Give thanks) to him who by understanding made the heavens – for his steadfast love (endures) forever. (6) (Give thanks) to him who spread out the earth above the waters – for his steadfast love (endures) forever. (7) (Give thanks) to him who made the great light – for his steadfast love (endures) forever, (8) …the sun (to have) dominion over the day – for his steadfast love (endures) forever, (9) …the moon and stars (to have) dominion over the night – for his steadfast love (endures) forever.
The most distinctive feature of this psalm is the repeated line that closes each verse, “for his steadfast love (endures) forever.” This psalm was clearly designed to be used in antiphonal worship with the leader speaking the first part of each verse and the congregation responding to each statement with the same repeated refrain. In the first three verses of this segment, the command, “give thanks,” begins each verse. In the next four verses the command is not specifically given but is clearly implied.
I. Giving thanks to Yahweh for who he is (1-3)
II. Giving thanks to Yahweh for what he has done (4-9)
We should continually and repeatedly praise Yahweh for who he is and for what he has done.
In the application section of the study for Psalm 135:1-7 (11/30), I noted that my wife and I have been committed in our marriage to repeating the phrase, “I love you” to each other daily. Not long ago while taking a young couple through premarital counseling sessions, I mentioned this and suggested they try it. The future husband looked at me in astonishment and asked, “Do you really say, ‘I love you,’ to each other every day?” I assured him that it was not an exaggeration and that repeated assurances like this can mean a great deal if they are spoken with truth and sincerity.
Repetitions in worship, telling Yahweh how great he is and how much he means to us, are likewise important ways of expressing our love to him and reminding ourselves that the God we serve is truly worthy of our praise. Just as my wife and I never tire of hearing each other say, “I love you,” so God never tires of hearing his children voice their devotion with “I love you, Lord.” Psalm 136 is a psalm centered around the simple repeated phrase, ”for his steadfast love (endures) forever.” Repeating this phrase again and again should never bore us, but rather motivate us to gain an even deeper understanding of how great Yahweh’s love is for us and for all his creation. As we read and reread the psalm slowly and meditatively, we should allow the repetitions of this phrase to be used by the Holy Spirit to help us, in the words of Paul, “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18,19).