His steadfast love endures forever, Psalm 136

No question about what title to choose for Psalm 136! The first line of every verses praises God for his wonderful works, while each second line in this antiphonal psalm proclaims, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”

We’ve used this psalm in the past as a litany at Thanksgiving gatherings. The leader reads initial lines and participants repeat “for his steadfast love endures forever.”

The first three verses set the tone by calling believers to offer thanksgiving to the Most High God (Psalm 136:1-3, ESV): 

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
   for his steadfast love endures forever; 

Now that God’s supremacy has been established, the psalmist links God’s steadfast love with his creative power (4-9, ESV):

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 above 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;

That Creator God delivered his people from Egypt with a series of miraculous wonders (10-16, ESV):

to him who struck down the firstborn 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 two,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel 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;

God fought for his people against powerful nations and established them in a land of their own (17-22, ESV):

to him who struck down great kings,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed mighty 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.

Just as God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, he delivered us from slavery to sin. He rescues us from our enemies and provides daily sustenance (23-25, ESV):

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.

God is sovereign. He created all things. He delivered his people from bondage and gave them a place of their own. He remembers us in our low estate and rescues us from our foes. He provides our daily needs. In all these ways, God demonstrates that his steadfast love endures forever.

How can we not give thanks to the God of heaven? He alone loves us with an everlasting love that will never fail (26, ESV):

Give thanks to the God of heaven,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.

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