“Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; and the moon and starts to rule over the night;…”
Psalm 136:3-9 (ESV)
My personal preference, (for what little that is worth) is to not appreciate as much songs that are excessively repetitive. That being the case, when this Psalm was a part of my Bible Reading program, I was tempted to just read the portions between the repetitive lines and forgo the rest. Instead of that, I remembered that when in Scripture we see something repeated, it is done for emphasis, and we should interpret it that way. So I forced myself to read this Psalm thoroughly and thoughtfully. Actually by the time I was halfway through it, I was reading the verses, and inserting the word “why” before the repeated line, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Look back up to the verses above, and try that. “Give thanks to the Lord of lords. [Why?] For his steadfast love endures forever.” When we read through the rest of the Psalm, asking that question each time, perhaps we understand more of the heart of the Psalmist who wrote it. He had much to give thanks to God for, and over and above all the various things that He has done was this underlying reason, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”
It is good for us from time to time, as we are apt to do this month, and reflect on the goodness of God, and how He has reached out to us, and ______ (you fill in the blank). If we were to stop then, and ask the question, “why would God do all this for us?” We cannot conclude that it was because we deserve it, because quite honestly we don’t. We must look back at His goodness, His mercy, His grace, His provision and state that it is because of His steadfast love that endures forever that He has continued to extend these and other blessings upon us.
I invite you to pull out your Bible, and read through this Psalm thoughtfully and carefully, reading each line, and skipping nothing. Perhaps we don’t associate as well with the lines related to Israel’s early days, but hopefully the closing verses will speak to us more directly. “It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever; and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever; he who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever; Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (23-26)
So when you and your family get together this Thanksgiving Day, or at other times when you’re reflective about God’s goodness to you, don’t forget to consider that it’s because His “steadfast love endures forever” that we are able to look back and give thanks. His love for us has never wavered, regardless of our obedience, our lack of attention to His Word, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
In the world of uncertainty that we live in, in the world of cultural shift where Christianity is more often mocked in the media than celebrated, in a world where terrorism threatens our peace of mind on so many fronts, remember that “His steadfast love endures forever.” In times of peace and prosperity or of war and poverty, remember that “His steadfast love endures forever.” And that is something to be truly thankful for.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen