Meditations on the Psalms #310

Psalm 136 Part 3

The three opening stanzas refer to God by the three great names by which He is known: Yahweh, the title of grace (v1); Elohim, the name of might (v2); and Adonai, the title of sovereignty (v3). We are invited in v4 to praise Him for His wonders. Most of the rest of this psalm describes many of these great wonders, that were and are an expression of His great unfailing love to His people. From the telescope to the microscope, we behold His great wonders.

In vs5-7 the poet refers back to the first 4 days of Genesis 1 as a demonstration of never-ending love. The writer casts his eye all the way back to the chorus of creation which was a Divine act of love and then travels through the stormy, troubled days where he constantly detects the thread of mercy. The theme of creation in this psalm invites the Christian not to wrangle over cosmological theories but to delight in his environment, known to him as no mere mechanism but a work of ‘steadfast love’. No unbeliever has grounds for any such quality of joy.

In vs10-15 God is praised as the One who rescued Israel from their slavery and degradation in Egypt – another expression of His unfailing love. 
The singer recounted God’s great wonders flowing seamlessly from the work of creation described in Gen1 to the work of deliverance described in Exodus. We rightly regard the Exodus account as historical, describing what really happened. Therefore, the context and flow of this psalm demonstrate that what God described in Gen1 really happened. The psalmist does not treat them differently, as if one were a legend and the other actual history. The Exodus was just as much History as creation.

God’s use of history in this psalm is important. As in countless other places in the Scriptures, God used His work in the past to give hope, faith, and confidence to His people both for the moment and for the future. The phrase “His faithful love endures forever,” (NLT) gives us strength for the present and hope for the future. The NASB renders this phrase, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 

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