“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:1-3).
Justice is when you get what you deserve. Mercy is when you do not get the punishment you deserve. Grace is when you are blessed with what you do not deserve. Throughout Psalm 136 the 2nd phrase of each verse says, “For His mercy endures forever”. The psalm constantly stresses the significance of God’s mercy in the lives of His people.
John Gill states, “This Psalm was very probably composed by David, and given to the Levites to sing every day (1 Chronicles 16:41). Solomon his son followed his example, and made use of it in singing at the dedication of the Temple (2 Chronicles 7:3-6); as Jehoshaphat seems to have done when he went out to war against his enemies (2 Chronicles 20:21). Charles Spurgeon, regarding this psalm, adds, “From the striking form of it we should infer that it was a popular hymn among the Lord's ancient people. Most hymns with a solid, simple chorus become favorites with congregations, and this is sure to have been one of the best beloved. It contains nothing but praise. It is tuned to rapture, and can only be fully enjoyed by a devoutly grateful heart”.
In reading the psalm, the phrase, “For His mercy endures forever”, should not be viewed as something which is just redundant. Instead, it should be viewed as something for which we continually need to praise God. In Psalm 136 we see a number of reasons why God’s enduring mercy should continually be on the minds of His people and should be expressed with gratitude as they sing of His enduring mercy with their lips. First, God is good (Psalm 136:1-3). Second, the Lord showed His mercy in giving man a beautiful earth on which to live (Psalm 136:4-9). Third, Jehovah shows mercyto His people by protecting them as He defeats their enemies such as ancient Egypt during the time of the Exodus and as they went on to conquer and dwell in the Promised Land (Psalm 136:5-22). Of the Lord, the psalmist wrote: “Who remembered us in our lowly state, for His mercy endures forever; and rescued us from our enemies, for His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:23-24). Finally, the author states that God shows His mercy by giving all flesh, both man and beast, their daily food: “Who gives food to all flesh, for His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:25).
It is interesting that among God’s people, singing this phrase, “For His mercy endures forever” was important to them as we see them sing it at the dedication of the temple and during times when the Lord had given them victory (2 Chronicles 7:3-6; 20:21). In fact, it appears David wanted God’s people to be reminded of God’s enduring mercy every day as it appears he gave this psalm to the Levites to sing daily. If this is the case, should I not be contemplating on God’s enduring mercy every day and the manifold ways in which God shows His mercy to me? Today, I will strive to keep my spiritual eyes open and look for different ways in which God shows His enduring mercy to me! “Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136: 26).
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).