Monday, July 8, 2013

The Morning After: God's Enduring Love (Psalm 136)

One aspect of my preaching schedule that I have settled on is to spend several weeks every summer in the book of Psalm. It makes for a good series in the summer since so many people are gone on vacation. It is my hope that eventually, I will make my way through the entire book (that is going to take some long-term ministry).

On Sunday, I preached on Psalm 136, which contains one of the most famous statements in the book: "His steadfast love endures forever." In every single verse of this Psalm, the author repeats this phrase as a way of reminding the people of God's commitment to them. He is overwhelmed by the love of God. And why wouldn't he? He is most likely writing at a time in the nation of Israel when things were going well. It is likely that this was a song that was sung in Solomon's temple (2 Chronicles 7:3).

While repetition in songs is certainly debated in the church today, I doubt many people would greatly appreciate singing a song that repeated this much. But this repeated statement concerning God's love, as Spurgeon said "are not once too often." This statement is connected to God's covenantal love. It is the favor of God that He pours out upon those He has entered into a covenant relationship with. For the people of Israel, it goes back to Genesis 12 when God called Abram into this special relationship. God promised and He never forgets His promises.

What I appreciated most about this Psalm is the way in which the author looked at his nations history. I understand that hindsight is always 20/20. Do we really think the people of Israel felt like God was good and loving to them as they wandered in the wilderness? Do we really think they felt as if God was on their side when Pharaoh was chasing after them? Do we think they felt God's love as they were being attacked by great kings? Probably not. 

And yet with each of these events, after looking objectively at them, the author was clear to ring the refrain of God that "His steadfast love endures forever." It is really easy for us to interpret the love and goodness of God in light of our current situation in life. Is God really loving when the test results come back indicating cancer? Is God really loving when our spouse runs from us? Is God really loving when there is not as much work as there used to be? Of course He is! Our current situation does not mean that God's love and commitment to His people have changed. The history lesson we learn in this Psalm is that we can look and feel God's great love for His people, even during the storm!

If you are interested in this subject and want to read my notes, you can find them HERE.

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