Give thanks to God for His love endures forever – a sermon on Psalm 136 by Rev. Colin Pretorius.
There’s a saying that says you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re coming from. Perhaps that’s why tracing one’s family tree is such a popular hobby. But it’s not just for family history that knowing where you come from is important. Think about in in this way: If you go to something like Google Maps or whereis.com and you ask for directions to somewhere, you’re not going to get a sensible answer if you don’t also tell the program where you’re coming from. In a sense that’s what the writer of this psalm is doing too – he reminds the people of God in ancient times where they’ve come from. He reminds them of who’s brought them to where they are. And this psalm also teaches us today. It teaches us the importance of remembering where we come from, what has happened in our lives and who the author of our lives is. And just like for the ancient people of God, we’re taught to give thanks to God for His enduring love.
This psalm is known as the “Great Hallel” – the great psalm of praise. From what we can piece together it’s a song that was used for the Passover. And as we did this morning, the first part of each verse was most likely read by a priest or Levite, with the gathered worshippers responding with the refrain “for his steadfast love endures forever.” Each verse speaks about God’s character or about His works, and each verse ends with the refrain of His enduring love. And we have to understand that giving thanks to God is implied in every verse. So in a very special way this psalm reminds God’s people of His incredible goodness and it encourages them to praise Him for His steadfast love.
Verses 1-3 set the scene for the rest of the psalm by instructing God’s people to give thanks to God for who He is. Verses 4-9 give more detail of who God is – He’s the God who creates. And verses 10-26 speak of thanksgiving to the God who saves and reminds us that God is the God of heaven.
• Give thanks to God for who He is (v 1-3)
• Give thanks to God for His creation (v 4-9)
• Give thanks to God for His salvation (v 10-26)