Psalm 136—God’s Mercy and Love Endure Forever

Psalm 136—God’s Mercy and Love Endure Forever

0
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. . .
To Him Who by understanding made the heavens, for His steadfast love endures forever. . .
O give thanks to the God of heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 136: 1, 5, 26
Many of are familiar with this Psalm as it is often sung in churches during Holy Communion or after the service. We probably recognize it with these words:
O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, Alleluia. 
For His mercy endureth, forever, Alleluia. 
O give thanks unto the God of gods, Alleluia.
For His mercy endureth forever, Alleluia.
And it goes on like this. We may not know that this hymn is a Psalm, but it is, like so much of our liturgical prayers and hymns. This Psalm certainly lends itself to being sung, as the refrain “For His steadfast love endures forever,” is part of every verse. Why is it part of every verse? To emphasize that the love and mercy of God are part of every chapter of human history. There has never been a time, and there never will be a time, that God will withdraw His love and mercy from us, either as a society, or as individuals. God’s love and mercy is present, even in the pandemic, even when it appears that God is absent or silent, His love and mercy remain present. Because God is incomprehensible, we may feel that God is absent or silent, and remain unable to comprehend that He actually is neither absent or silent, ever.
Psalm 136 walks us through a history of God’s love and mercy. It begins by affirming that God is good. (v. 1) In a polytheistic society, God is “God of gods” (v. 2) and “Lord of lords.” (v. 3) This is as true today as it was when the Psalms were written. We have made idols of many things and many people, and God is more mighty and more lasting than anything we idolize.
It is God alone who does the “great wonders” (v. 4) Each of us may do some wonderful things, but nothing we can do compares to the wonders of God, which begins with the creation of the heavens (v. 5), the earth and the sea (v. 6), and the sun, the moon and the stars. (v. 7-9).
Because this Psalm was written before Christ, the greatest work for which God was known was the delivery of His people from bondage in Egypt, through the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, to the conquest of the land of Canaan. This is detailed in verses 10-22, as we hear about the plagues (v. 10), the Exodus (v. 11), the dividing and crossing of the Red Sea (v. 12-15), God’s leading the children of Israel through the wilderness (v. 16) and the conquest of the Land of Canaan through the overthrowing of great and powerful kings with their armies (v. 17-22).
God remembers us in our low estate (v. 23). This was true in the time of the Israelites. It is true now, in the time of covid-19. It is true when we suffer personal challenges, like medical issues or loss of loved one, or loss of job. God is with us, even in these, with mercy and love. God rescues us from our enemies (v. 24). These do not only include military victories, which is what this refers to specifically. They include modern enemies like our own personal anxiety and doubt. These things are helped and cured through God’s love and mercy.
God “gives food to all flesh” (v. 25). This includes not only the food we eat, but includes provision for the things we hunger for. For instance, God gives comfort to those who are anxious. He gives forgiveness when we have erred. He gives grace to cover our inadequacies. He gives wisdom so that we can see clearly and make good decisions.
The Psalm concludes with reaffirming our thanks to the God of heaven (v. 26), the Creator of all that is seen and unseen, the Almighty and all-merciful God of all. I encourage you to find a recording of this Psalm on YouTube or elsewhere and listen to it often. It is important for us to remember that God’s steadfast love and mercy endure forever, even in the time of societal crisis, even in the time of personal crisis, even in time of personal failure and setback, and certainly in time of joy. We should give thanks to God at all times, because His love and mercy endure at all times.
O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods, for His steadfast love endures forever.
O 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 upon 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.
The moon and stars to rule over the night, for His steadfast love endures forever.
To Him Who smote the first-born of Egypt, for His steadfast love endures forever.
And brought Israel out from among them, for His steadfast love endures forever.
With a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for His steadfast love endures forever.
To Him Who divided the Red Sea in sunder, for His steadfast love endures forever.
And made Israel to pass through the midst of it, for His steadfast love endures forever.
But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for His steadfast love endures forever.
To Him Who led His people through the wilderness, for His steadfast love endures forever.
To Him Who smote great kinds, for His steadfast love endures forever.
And slew famous kings, for His steadfast love endures forever.
Sihon, king of the Amorites, for His steadfast love endures forever.
And Og, king of Bashan, for His steadfast love endures forever.
And gave their land as a heritage, for His steadfast love endures forever.
A heritage to Israel His servant, for His steadfast love endures forever.
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.
O give thanks to the God of heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 136
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and love endure forever!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.

These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.

The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK

Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is a 501(c)3 and an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America .It is a recognized leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty-two years. We have worked to create a community for both believers and non believers alike by sharing the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. Click to signup to receive weekly newsletter. 

Join us in our Media Ministry Missions! Help us bring the Orthodox Faith to the fingertips of Orthodox Christians worldwide! Your gift today will helps us produce and provide unlimited access to Orthodox faith-inspiring programming, services and community. Don’t wait. Share the Love of Orthodoxy Today!

About author
avatar

Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0