Meditations on the Psalms #309

Psalm 136 Part 2 

The repeated declaration of his ‘steadfast love’ (NRSV) is the translation of the great Hebrew word ‘chesed’ which may be understood as Yahweh’s grace, His loyal love, His covenant love towards His people. Chesed is a powerful word! It is an act that has no cause! The ultimate act of ‘chesed’ is creation, “out of nothing”. No one merits existence, we only exist by the gift of God. Our relationship with God depends on ‘chesed’ because He owes us nothing. God does not save us because of what we do, but because of who He is! Lovingkindness (NASB) is an act that has no cause. It is a character trait of God because “God is love.” (1John4:8) This OT equivalent of the NT word ‘grace’ (Greek – charis) shows us that the plan of salvation has been the same throughout history. 

‘Chesed’ is love that stoops, love that departs from the strict lines of descent and retribution. ‘Chesed’ is love that is kind when justice might make it otherwise. ‘Chesed’ is love that condescends to that which is far beneath. Thus, the steadfast, lovingkindness or unfailing love of the OT covers the same ground as ‘grace’ in the NT. 

Not just an amazing word in the OT, but a fundamental word that is repeated constantly in the book of Psalms. Faithfulness and truth blend with steadfast love to become the attribute of God’s fidelity to every obligation under which He has come – faithfulness to promise. Your salvation rests on His promise. This is His character. Faithfulness will last as long as God himself does! In Psalms ‘chesed’ belongs to Covenant. While we may waver, He will not! 

Why would we not reverence such a God! Why would we not bow down and worship (Psalm 95:6) him who “made heaven and earth the sea and all that is in them” Exodus 20:11. Wait a minute – there it is! ‘Chesed in Exodus 20:6 – embodied in the 10 commandments! “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth come through Jesus Christ” John1:17.  
In this psalm, reasons are repeatedly found to thank and praise the God of Grace and unfailing Love.  

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