Book #5: 107-150, cont’d.
The word "lovingkindness" is "hesed" in Hebrew. It speaks of God’s unending love for His people that is based solely on His nature and the covenant He has made with them.
This psalm was probably used antiphonally in Temple worship. One person, or group, would sing the first line of a verse and then another person, or group would sing the second line in response.
Notice that verses 1-3 call upon the reader to “Give thanks to the Lord…the God of gods…the Lord of lords”. These words are assumed in all of the rest of the verses. All 26 verses extol the greatness of God…mentioning facets of His nature, His graciousness towards Israel, the wonder of His creation, and His mercy for all men.
In Jewish liturgy it is called "the Great Hallel," recited at the Passover meal after the "Lesser Hallel" ("hallel" means "praise", see note on Ps. 113)
Psalm 136:1-3-A call to give thanks to God for His lovingkindness.
Psalm 136:4-9-A call to give thanks to God as the Creator of the world
Psalm 136:10-22-A call to give thanks to God as Israel’s God and Savior
Psalm 136:23-24-A call to give thanks to God as our Redeemer
Psalm 136:25-26-A call to give thanks to God as the benefactor of all of creation
This Psalm is referred to as a “Song of the Exiles” because the Psalmist mourns the plight of the Jews who were taken captive to Babylon.
Psalm 137:1-3-The Jews who were taken captive to Babylon sit by its rivers (Euphrates and its tributaries, the Chebar, numerous canals) and cried because they missed their homeland. Their captors (the Babylonians) wanted them to play the joyous songs of Israel…but they refused to do so. How could they sing the joyous songs of their homeland when they have been taken away from it? So, they hung up their harps as a sign that they would sing no more (:2-4).
Psalm 137:5-6-The Psalmist says that even though they may not be singing…they will never forget their homeland.
Psalm 137:7-9-The Psalmist speaks of God's rule over nature.
Psalm 137:10-22-The Psalmist speaks of God's conquering the nations that opposed Israel.
Psalm 137:23-26-The Psalmist speaks of God's provision for Israel.
Psalm 137:7-9-The Psalmist calls for those who destroyed Jerusalem to meet a similar fate.
Psalm 138:1-3-David says that he will give praise to God before everyone...because when he calls upon Him, He answers.
Psalm 138:4-8-The kings of the earth will give praise to God because though He is God, and exalted..."yet He regards the lowly" (:6). The word “regards” means “to have awareness, perceive, observe, give attention to”. David is saying that though God is exalted above every king and kingdom on earth…yet, He pays close attention to the situations of individual people on earth. With that in mind…David is confident that whatever happens to him, God will rescue him (:7-8).
Prayer: Lord, I need to be more mindful of that for which I should be thankful. I could easily write a Psalm such as this…listing all of the things for which I am thankful…and it would be much, much longer. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for all that You have done for me. Your blessings are beyond number and Your love is everlasting. Thank You.