By Ben W. Curtis
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Tracy City
Communicating our love to others strengthens our relationship and reassures them of our commitment. Rather than describing how much we love God, Psalm 136 tells of the many ways God has loved us. The psalmist knows that there is a direct connection between remembering and thankfulness, and between thankfulness and trusting in God. When he calls us to “give thanks to the LORD,” he is reminding us that our God is a covenant keeping King who rules faithfully over His people. He is sovereign over the spiritual realm (“God of gods”) and over every earthly ruler (“Lord of lords”). The psalmist uses these titles and the refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever,” to assure us that when God sets His love on a people, He never takes it away.
God proves His love through His mighty acts of creation (Psalm 136:4-5). He not only created a people for Himself but also a place to share with us. He brought forth the universe out of chaos, and as an expression of His goodness, He made an earth that is safe, orderly, and abundant. Have you thanked God lately for gravity? The sun He created provides us with light and warmth, and causes vegetation to grow so that we have food to eat. He didn’t have to make us or this earth, but He performed all of these creative works in order to say, “I love you!”
God’s mighty acts of deliverance also reveal His steadfast love (vv. 10-15). He sent plague after plague in order to convince Egypt and the Pharaoh to let His people go so that they could serve Him. Pharaoh hardened his heart each time until God struck down the firstborns of Egypt. Yet God “brought Israel out from among them” and as they were being pursued, He “shook off” Pharaoh like a dog shakes off a flea (literal translation of v. 15). There is no cost too high and nothing God won’t do in order to rescue His people. If you are a believer, He has rescued you not with a “strong hand and an outstretched arm” (v. 12), but with pierced hands and outstretched arms — that’s how far He is willing to go to demonstrate His love! God gave the most valuable thing in His possession to rescue us, His only beloved Son.
While this Psalm is a call for us to remember God’s steadfast love, it closes by reminding us that God is the one who never forgets (vv. 23-25). You may be wondering if God has forgotten you because of what is happening in your life or because of some sin you’ve committed. The psalmist declares to you that God never fails to provide what His people need. For example, He “remembered us in our low estate” (v. 23). We were separated from God and dead in our trespasses when He rescued us. Unable to escape death, futility, and alienation from God, He delivered us from our greatest foes (v. 24). And He continues to rescue us when we fail, when we wander from Him, when we grow complacent about Him, when we’re suffering, and when we’re opposed.
Finally, He provides food for all of the creation (v. 25), but He especially provides the bread of life to satisfy our spiritual hunger (John 6:35). God is worthy of all of our thankfulness and praise, because even though our love is not steadfast, “His steadfast love endures forever!”