(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon that in

black is from the King James Version and from the Pulpit Commentary) 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved. 

Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

 

 

 

Psalm 136

 

 

A PSALM with a familiar refrain (compare Psalm 118:1-4, 29; II Chronicles 5:13;

Ezra 3:11) at the end of each line. In the main, this Psalm follows the line of Psalm

135., calling upon Israel to praise God, and basing the call upon His glorious

manifestations of Himself in nature (vs. 5-9) and history (vs. 10-24), repeating

in the latter case the very same facts. Metrically, the psalm is arranged, till near

the end, in a series of triplets, but concludes with two stanzas of four lines each

(vs. 19-22 and vs. 23-26). It is conjectured to have been written as the anthem called

for in Psalm 135:19-21.  We know not by whom this Psalm was written, but we do

know that it was sung in Solomon's temple (II Chronicles 7:3,6), and by the armies

of Jehoshaphat when they sang themselves into victory in the wilderness of

Tekoa (Ibid. ch. 20:20-25).  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.

 

  • It commences with a threefold praise to the Triune Lord (vs.1-3),
  • then it gives us six notes of praise to the Creator (vs.4-9),
  • six more upon deliverance from Egypt (vs.10-15),
  • and seven upon the journey through the wilderness and the entrance

 into Canaan. (vs. 16-22)

  • Then we have two happy verses of personal gratitude for present mercy

(vs. 23-24),

  • and one (v.25) to tell of the Lord's universal providence,
  • and a closing verse to excite to never ending praise (v. 26).

 

1   “O give thanks unto the LORD;” -  The exhortation is intensely earnest:

the Psalmist pleads with the Lord's people with an "O", three times

repeated. Thanks are the least that we can offer, and these we ought freely

to give. The inspired writer calls us to praise Jehovah for all His goodness

to us, and all the greatness of His power in blessing His chosen. We thank

our parents, let us praise our heavenly Father; we are grateful to our

benefactors, let us give thanks unto the Giver of all good - “for He is good:”

Essentially He is goodness itself, practically all that He does is good, relatively He

 is good to His creatures. Let us thank Him that we have seen, proved, and

tasted  that He is good. He is good beyond all others: indeed, He alone is good

in the highest sense; He is the source of good, the good of all good, the sustainer

of good, the perfecter of good, and the rewarder of good. For this He deserves

the constant gratitude of His people - “for His mercy endureth for ever.”

We shall have this repeated in every verse of this song, but not once too often.

It is the sweetest stanza that a man can sing. What joy that there is mercy,

mercy with Jehovah, enduring mercy, mercy enduring for ever. We

are ever needing it, trying it, praying for it, receiving it: therefore let us for ever

sing of it.

"When all else is changing within and around,

In God and His mercy no change can be found."

 

This verse is dentical with the first verse of Psalm 118., which is

probably a very ancient formula, and one used at the erection both of the

first (II Chronicles 5:13) and of the second temple (Ezra 3:11).

 

 

The Enduring Mercy (v. 1)

 

This is very evidently a psalm arranged for alternate singing in the temple

service. One section of the singers gives the sentences, and the other

section answers with the ever-recurring refrain of the psalm, “For his

mercy endureth forever.” It is a refrain which has peculiar point and

interest when regarded as sung by the returned exiles in their restored

temple. They felt very deeply what it was to be “monuments of God’s

mercy,” and that sense of God’s mercy to them enabled them to read aright

the story of the ages old and hoary, and to anticipate aright the ages that

were yet to be. God’s mercy evidently had been upon His people from

everlasting, and that was the best of guarantees that it would be unto

everlasting. Let any man worthily apprehend God’s mercy to him, and that

man will be well assured that God’s “mercy endureth for ever.”

 

  • THE PERSONAL SENSE OF GOD’S MERCY. There are some things,

perhaps many things, which cannot be learned intellectually, which no man

can know until he knows experimentally. He may know about them, and

may be able to talk about them, but the knowledge is a surface-matter; it is

not real, not spiritually effective, until it comes through personal

experience. GOD’S MERCY is one of these things. There are elements in

mercy which we can mentally apprehend, such as tenderness,

considerateness, gentleness, pity; but there is an element which we can only

realize by feeling in relation to it. A man must feel undeserving before he

can know what God’s mercy is. Then he gains a right sense of the

pitifulness of thy great mercy.” The self-satisfied Pharisee never thinks

that God’s mercy concerns him. In that mercy the penitent publican finds

refuge.  (Luke 18:9-14)

 

  • ITS RAYS THROWN BACK ON THE PAST OF DIVINE

DEALING. Let a man feel thus in relation to God’s mercy, and then he can

look back over his own past, and back over the past of history, and find

God’s mercy, as bearing and forbearing, EVERYWHERE!  So the returned

exiles would be able to read their old history as a nation. What shone out to

their view EVERYWHERE was GOD’S MERCY!  Man’s waywardness and

willfulness, contrasted with God’s pitifulness and gentleness.

 

  • ITS RAYS THROWN FORWARD ON THE FUTURE OF DIVINE

DEALING. It is alone on the basis of what God is to us that we can rest

our confidence of WHAT HE IS GOING TO BE! Our soul’s argument

takes this form, “This God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our

Guide even unto death.”  (Psalm 48:14)  Because His mercy is our portion,

we are sure that “His mercy endureth for ever.”

 

2  O give thanks unto the God of gods:” -  The phrase, “God of gods,” occurs

first in Deuteronomy 10:17. It was one very familiar to the Assyrians and Babylonians

(‘Religions of the Ancient World,’ pp. 56, 60, 68, etc.). In the Bible it is used by

Joshua (Joshua 22:22), Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:47), Daniel (11:36), and

this psalmist. It sanctions a secondary use of the word “God,” such as is

found also in Psalm 82:6; 96:4; 97:7, 9; 138:1.  If there be powers in heaven

or on earth worthy of the name of gods he is the God of them; from Him

their dominion comes, their authority is derived from Him, and their very

existence is dependent upon His will. Moreover, for the moment assuming

that the deities of the heathen were gods, yet none of them could be

compared with our Elohim, who is infinitely beyond what they are fabled to

be. Jehovah is our God, to be worshipped and adored, and He is worthy of

our reverence to the highest degree. If the heathen cultivate the worship of

their gods with zeal, how much more intently should we seek the glory of

the God of gods—the only true and real God. Foolish persons have

gathered from this verse that the Israelites believed in the existence of

many gods, at the same time believing that their Jehovah was the chief

among them; but this is an absurd inference, since gods who have a God

over them cannot possibly be gods themselves. The words are to be

understood after the usual manner of human speech, in which things are

often spoken of not as they really are, but as they profess to be. God as

God is worthy of our warmest thanks, “for His mercy endureth for ever.

Imagine supreme Godhead without everlasting mercy! It would then have

been as fruitful a source of terror as it is now a fountain of thanksgiving. Let the

Highest be praised in the highest style, for right well do His nature and His acts

deserve the gratitude of all His creatures.

 

Praise your God with right good will,

For His love endureth still.

 

 

 

God and other gods (v. 2)

 

“Oh give thanks unto the God of gods.” This expression appears to

recognize other gods in order to make comparison with them of the One

only, living, and true God. It is necessary to keep in mind that there are

gods for whom their worshippers claim that they are verily and indeed

gods. True, “the gods of the nations are idols (helpless vanities), but the

Lord (Jehovah) made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5), but that is the view which

the worshippers of Jehovah take, not the view which the nations that serve

these gods take. For us there is no comparison between God and the gods.

And yet Scripture invites us to make comparisons. Some freshness may be

gained by taking one point of view; but it must be regarded as a point of

view, and in no sense a complete setting of truth in relation to this subject.

Gods, as distinct from God, are always wrongly treated when they are

regarded as distinct and independent deities. It may be the fact of history

that to the mass of the people they become such; but that is their delusion.

They never really are such; they are always either incarnations of God, in

order to bear direct relation to human and earthly things, or they are

guardian angels or patron saints. This may be clearly illustrated from the

Hindu religion. Brahma is the one living god; but there are five cults of

Brahma, according as he is presented incarnate in Vishnoo, ‘Siva, ‘Sakti,

Gane’sa, or Surya. It might be said that these are gods, but the deeper truth

is that they are no more than sensible helps to the apprehension of Brahma,

and to right relations with him. This suggests interesting points of

reflection.

 

  • THE SPIRITUALITY OF GOD IS OF SUPREME IMPORTANCE

FOR MAN. Leave man alone, and anywhere and everywhere he will

inevitably materialize God and give Him some formal shape, either in act or

thought. And then man deteriorates, because he puts the stamp of

superiority on his bodily investiture instead of on his spiritual self. His god

becomes a body, with passions to be indulged. Therefore God so jealously

guards for the Israelites His unseen, spiritual Being, and forbids every

attempt to make a likeness of Him.

 

  • THE SPIRITUALITY OF GOD IS PRESERVED IN THE ONE

INCARNATION IN WHICH HE HAS SHOWN HIMSELF. The “Man

Christ Jesus” is the One and only true incarnation of God. It was a simple

and genuine man’s life, which soon gave place to a presence spiritually

realized. The Christ we worship is no figure of a God. It is the God who

was unseen passing by us and for a moment removing His hand and letting

us see, and then passing into the unseen again.

 

3   “O give thanks to the Lord of lords:” “Lord of lords” occurs also first in

Deuteronomy 10:17. It is used likewise by Paul (I Timothy 6:15) and John

(Revelation 17:14; 19:16).  There are lords many, but Jehovah is the Lord of them.

All lordship is vested in the Eternal. He makes and administers law, He rules and

governs mind and matter, He possesses in Himself all sovereignty and power. All lords

in the plural are summed up in this Lord in the singular; He is more lordly than all

emperors and kings condensed into one. For this we may well be thankful, for we

know the superior Sovereign will rectify the abuses of the underlings who

now lord it over mankind. He will call these lords to His bar, and reckon

with them for every oppression and injustice. He is as truly the Lord of

lords as He is Lord over the meanest of the land, and He rules with a strict

impartiality, for which every just man should give heartiest thanks.

for His mercy endureth for ever.” Yes, He mingles mercy with His justice,

and reigns for the benefit of His subjects. He pities the sorrowful, protects

the helpless, provides for the needy, and pardons the guilty; and this He

does from generation to generation, never wearying of his grace, "because

He delighteth in mercy." (Micah 7:18)  Let us arouse ourselves to laud our

glorious Lord! A third time let us thank Him who is our Jehovah, our God, and

our Lord; and let this one reason suffice us for three thanksgivings, or for three

thousand:

 

"For His mercy shall endure,

Ever faithful, ever sure."

 

4  To Him who alone doeth great wonders:” (Compare Psalm 72:18). Jehovah

is the great Thaumaturge, the unrivalled Wonder worker. None can be likened

unto Him, He is alone in wonderland, the Creator and Worker of true marvels,

compared with which all other remarkable things are as child's play. His

works are all great in wonder even when they are not great in size; in fact,

in the minute objects of the microscope we behold as great wonders as

even the telescope can reveal (I recommend typing in Fantastic Trip in your

Internet browser – CY – 2011).  All the works of His unrivalled skill are

wrought by Him alone and unaided, and to Him, therefore, must be

undivided honor. None of the gods or the lords helped Jehovah in

creation, or in the redemption of His people: His own right hand and His

holy arm have wrought for Him these great deeds. What have the gods of

the heathen done? If the question be settled by doings, Jehovah is indeed

"alone." It is exceedingly wonderful that men should worship gods who

can do nothing, and forget the Lord who alone doeth great wonders. Even

when the Lord uses men as His instruments, yet the wonder of the work is

His alone; therefore let us not trust in men, or idolize them, or tremble before them.

Praise is to be rendered to Jehovah, “for His mercy endureth for ever.”  The

mercy of the wonder is the wonder of the mercy; and the enduring nature of that

mercy is the central wonder of that wonder. The Lord causes us often to sit down

in amazement as we see what His mercy has wrought out and prepared for us:

"wonders of grace to God belong", yea, great wonders and unsearchable.

Oh the depth! (Romans 11:33-36)  Glory be to His name world without end!

 

Doing wondrous deeds alone,

Mercy sits upon His throne.

 

 

 

The Great Wonders of God (v. 4)

 

  • WHAT ARE THEY? They are seen in nature; in providence; and

especially in grace. The whole purpose, plan, and accomplishment of man’s

salvation is full of them.

 

  • GOD IS EVER DOING GREAT WONDERS. It is not that He once

did them and has now ceased, but He is ever doing and will continue to do

them. Hence we may expect them in regard to others and to ourselves.

 

  • NO ONE ELSE DOES THEM.

 

Ø      In Nature we see this plainly.

Ø      In providence we see this partly. Men are apt to think that they

themselves are the authors of the good that comes to them.

Ø      In grace men are slow to see this at all. They persist in thinking they

must bring something, do something, or else they cannot be saved.

They haggle over GOD’S FREE GIFT!

 

  • AND THEY ARE GREAT WONDERS. Not common and ordinary.

 

Ø      It was to be expected that they would be. For they are the works of God.

Ø      It was necessary they should be. For how else was man to be saved?

Ø      They have all the conditions of greatness.

 

o       Rarity;

o       transcendent power;

o       wisdom;

o       grace.

 

  • THEY DESERVE AND DEMAND OUR PRAISE.

 

Ø      Of the heart,

Ø      the lip, and

Ø      the life.

 

 

 

Wonders of Creative Power (v. 4)

 

“Who alone doeth great wonders.” “Jehovah is the great Thaumaturge, the

unrivalled Wonder-worker. None can be likened unto Him; He is alone in

wonderland, the Creator and Worker of true marvels, compared with

which all other remarkable things are as child’s play. None of the gods or

the lords helped Jehovah in creation or in the redemption of His people.”

As the theme of this psalm is the Divine mercy, we must find the merciful

in the wonderful. This psalm recalls to our minds the first chapter of

Genesis, which declares THE ABSOLUTE CREATORSHIP OF GOD!

It does not consist of a precise, definite, and detailed account of the processes of

creation, but contains a series of distinct and repeated affirmations of

God’s supreme relations to all forms of existence, in all their order, all their

origin, all their growth, all their relations. It is designed to impress on us

that the world was not created by chance, by self-regeneration, by

impersonal powers of nature, or by many agents acting either in harmony

or in antagonism. God is distinct from that He has made. God is the one

primal Source of all things. God’s will is represented in all laws that rule.

God’s good pleasure shapes all ends. This chapter impresses on mind and

heart the existence, independence, and personality of one Divine Being, the

universality of His rule, the omnipotence of His power, and the eternal

persistence of His relationship to the world He has created.

 

1. The chapter declares God’s unique relation to every part of creation. We

may conceive of no created thing, no existing thing, to which the assurance

is not attached — God made it, God ordained it, God arranged it. The

chapter includes all the components of the earth’s crust; all the treasures of

the mighty deep; all the elements of the atmosphere; all the hosts of

heaven, from the ruling sun to the faintest distant star; all the multiplied

forms of vegetable life; all the higher forms of animal life; and all the yet

higher forms of human life. And the declaration of God’s creation includes

all the natural laws and forces that act in creation. These things may be

illustrated.

 

2. The relation of God as Cause and Arranger to all the changes of

creation. One living God is at the beginning of all changes, designing all

change, and presiding over all change.

 

3. The relation of God as Cause and Controller to the entire range of

development in creation. Tell us of millions of bygone ages: God was

there.

 

  1. Show us a thing: GOD MADE IT!
  2. Describe a change: GOD ORDERED IT!
  3. Talk of immeasurable distances, in which the stars swing free:

GOD SET THEM THERE!

 

*  (Remember Fantastic Trip – You Tube – CY – 2017)

 

5   “To Him that by wisdom made the heavens:” Creation is the work, not only

of God’s power, but of His wisdom also. Things were made as they are by the

exertion of His forethought and understanding (compare Proverbs 3:19; Ephesians

1:11).  His goodness appears in creating the upper regions. He set His wisdom to the

task of fashioning a firmament, or an atmosphere suitable for a world upon which

mortal men should dwell. What a mass of wisdom lies hidden in this one creating

act!  The discoveries of our keenest observers have never searched out all the

evidences of design which are crowded together in this work of God's

hands. The lives of plants, animals, and men are dependent upon the

fashioning of our heavens: had the skies been other than they are we had

not been here to praise God. Divine foresight planned the air and the

clouds, with a view to the human race.  (Not to mention atmospheric

pressure without which, the way I understand it, we would disintergrate

CY – 2011)  for His mercy endureth for ever.”  The Psalmist's details of

mercy begin in the loftiest regions, and gradually descend from the heavens to

"our low estate" (ch.134:23); and this is an ascent, for mercy becomes greater

as its objects become less worthy. Mercy is far reaching, long enduring, all

encompassing. Nothing is too high for its reach, as nothing is beneath its stoop.

 

High as heaven His wisdom reigns,

Mercy on the throne remains.

 

6   “To Him that stretched out the earth above the waters: (compare

Isaiah 42:5; 44:24; Psalm 24:2). Lifting it up from the mingled mass, the dank

morass, the bottomless bog, of mixed land and sea; and so fitting it to be the abode

of man. Who but the Lord could have wrought this marvel? Few even think of the

divine wisdom and power which performed all this of old; yet, if a continent can be

proved to have risen or fallen an inch within historic memory, the fact is recorded

in the "transactions" of learned societies, and discussed at every gathering of

Philosopher -  for His mercy endureth for ever.”  - as is seen in the original

upheaval and perpetual upstanding of the habitable land, so that no deluge drowns

the race. By His strength He sets fast the mountains and consolidates the land

upon which we sojourn.

 

From the flood He lifts the land:

Firm His mercies ever stand.

 

7   “To Him that made great lights:  (See Genesis 1:14-16)  This also is a creating

miracle worthy of our loudest thanks. What could men have done without light?

Though they had the heavens above them, and dry land to move upon, yet

what could they see, and where could they go without light? Thanks be to

the Lord, who has not consigned us to darkness. In great mercy He has not

left us to an uncertain, indistinct light, floating about fitfully, and without

order; but He has concentrated light upon two grand luminaries, which, as

far as we are concerned, are to us "great lights." The Psalmist is making a

song for common people, not for your critical savans, —and so he sings of

the sun and moon as they appear to us, —the greatest of lights. These the

Lord created in the beginning; and for the present age of man made or

constituted them light bearers for the world - “for His mercy endureth for ever.”

 Mercy gleams in every ray of light, and it is most clearly seen in the arrangement

by which it is distributed with order and regularity from the sun and moon.

 

Lamps He lit in heaven's heights,

For in mercy He delights.

 

8   “The sun to rule by day:” (Genesis 1:16) We cannot be too specific in our

praises; after mentioning great lights, we may sing of each of them, and yet not

outwear our theme. The influences of the sun are too many for us to

enumerate them all, but untold benefits come to all orders of beings by its

light, warmth, and other operations. Whenever we sit in the sunshine, our

gratitude should be kindled. The sun is a great ruler, and his government is

pure beneficence, because by God's mercy it is moderated to our

feebleness; let all who rule take lessons from the sun which rules to bless.

By day we may well give thanks, for God gives cheer. The sun rules

because God rules; it is not the sun which we should worship, like the

Parsees; but the Creator of the sun, as he did who wrote this sacred song.

for His mercy endureth for ever.”Day unto day uttereth speech concerning

the mercy of the Lord (ch. 19:2);  every sunbeam is a mercy, for it falls on

undeserving sinners who else would sit in doleful darkness, and find earth a

hell. Milton puts it well:

 

"He, the golden tressed sun

Caused all day his course to run;

For His mercy shall endure

Ever faithful, ever sure."

 

9   “The moon and stars to rule by night: Genesis 1:16, 18)  No hour is left

without rule.  Blessed be God, He leaves us never to the doom of anarchy. The rule

is one of light and benediction. The moon with her charming changes, and the

stars in their fixed spheres gladden the night. When the season would be

dark and dreary because of the absence of the sun, forth come the many

minor comforters. The sun is enough alone; but when he is gone a

numerous band cannot suffice to give more than a humble imitation of his

radiance. Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, alone, can do more for us than

all His servants put together. He makes our day. When He is hidden, it is

night, and remains night, let our human comforters shine at their full. What

mercy is seen in the lamps of heaven gladdening our landscape at night!

What equal mercy in all the influences of the moon upon the tides, those

life floods of the earth! The Lord is the Maker of every star, be the stars

what they may; He calleth them all by their names (Isaiah 40:26), and at

His bidding each messenger with his torch enlightens our darkness.

for His mercy endureth for ever.” Let our thanks be as many as the stars,

and let our lives reflect the goodness of the Lord, even as the moon reflects

the light of the sun. The nightly guides and illuminators of men on land and

sea are not for now and then, but for all time.  They shone on Adam, and they

shine on us. Thus they are tokens and pledges of undying grace to men; and we

may sing with our Scotch friends:

 

"For certainly

     His mercies dure

     Most firm and sure

Eternally."

 

10  We have heard of the glory of the world's creation, we are now to

praise the Lord for the creation of his favored nation by their Exodus

from Egypt. Because the monarch of Egypt stood in the way of the Lord's

gracious purposes it became needful for the Lord to deal with him in

justice; but the great design was mercy to Israel, and through Israel mercy

to succeeding ages, and to all the world.  “To Him that smote Egypt in their

firstborn.” The parallelism with Psalm 135, here becomes very close, and so

continues till the end of v. 22. Five verses, however, are expanded into thirteen.

For his mercy, etc.  The last and greatest of the plagues struck all Egypt to the

heart.  The sorrow and the terror which it caused throughout the nation it is hardly

possible to exaggerate. From king to slave each one was wounded in the most

tender point. The joy and hope of every household was struck down in one

moment, and each family had its own wailing. The former blows had missed their

aim compared with the last; but that "smote Egypt." The Lord's firstborn had

been oppressed by Egypt, and at last the Lord fulfilled His threatening, "I will

 slay thy son, even thy firstborn" (Exodus 4:23).  Justice lingered but it struck

home at last - “for His mercy endureth for ever.” Yes, even to the extremity

of vengeance upon a whole nation the Lord's mercy to His people endured. He

is slow to anger, and judgment is his strange work; but when mercy to men

demands severe punishments He will not hold back His hand from the needful

surgery. (As our culture refuses to what is right; a la – in today’s Courier

Journal I saw an add by the NFL [National Football League] promoting the status of

of homosexuality, There was a former president of the Kentucky Civil Liberties

Union writing  in the same paper, same day, extolling the protection of murderers,

{extending life to them}; 50 million unborn American babies have been aborted,

and many other sinful practices are tolerated in this society, BECAUSE GOD’

PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE THE RESOLVE TO DO WHAT THEY ARE

COMMANDED TO DO!  BUT GOD DOES HAVE THAT RESOLVE

AND HE WILL JUDGE.  For evidence, check out arkdiscovery.com and look

Up the section on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Then compare it

To the teaching of Jude 1:7 where those cities, to this day, are “suffering the

vengeance of eternal fire!”  I repeat:  He did  not hold back His hand from

 the needful  surgery, THEN!  He will not hold back His hand from the

 needful surgery, NOW OR IN THE NEAR FUTURE.  My warning is:

CAVEAT EMPTOR!  - CY  - 2011)   What were all the firstborn of Egypt

compared with those divine purposes of mercy to all generations of men which

were wrapped up in the deliverance of the elect people? Let us even when the

Lord's judgments are abroad in the earth continue to sing of His unfailing grace.

 

"For evermore His love shall last,

For ever sure, for ever fast."

 

11  And brought out Israel from among them:”  (see Exodus 12:51; 14:19-31).

Scattered as the tribes were up and down the country, and apparently held in a grasp

which would never be relaxed, the Lord wrought their deliverance, and severed

them from their idolatrous task masters. None of them remained in bondage. The

Lord brought them out; brought them all out; brought them out at the very

hour when His promise was due; brought them out despite their being

mingled among the Egyptians; brought them out never to return. Unto His

name let us give thanks for this further proof of His favor to the chosen ones,

for His mercy endureth for ever.” Once the Israelites did not care to go out,

but preferred to bear the ills they had rather than risk they knew not what;

but the Lord's mercy endured that test also, and ceased not to stir up the

nest till the birds were glad to take to their wings. He turned the land of

plenty into a house of bondage, and the persecuted nation was glad to

escape from slavery. The unfailing mercy of the Lord is gloriously seen in

His separating His elect from the world. He brings out His redeemed and

they are henceforth a people who show forth His praise.

 

"For God doth prove

Our constant friend;

His boundless love

Shall never end."

 

 

 

God’s Judgments are Two-Sided (vs. 10-11)

 

“To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn;... and brought out Israel from

among them.” Much misapprehension of the Divine dealings follows from

fixing attention too exclusively on one side of the Divine judgments. We

readily see what they are to those who suffer under them, but we do not

sufficiently see what they are to those who are delivered through them.

God smote Egypt, but the smiting was a delivering of His people; and if we

would understand His doing we must see it on both its sides. Suppose that

God designs to discipline a particular race for a great world-mission which

He purposes to entrust to it, then the presence of Israel in Egypt is

explained. And when the time has come for that race to go forth and

accomplish its mission, the ordinary difficulties of getting a great part of a

nation’s population safely away had to be dealt with, and the special

complications arising had to be mastered. So deliverance had to take the

form of judgment. There are two possible explanations of Divine judgments.

 

  • THE EASIER EXPLANATION: THEY VINDICATE THE DIVINE

RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE PUNISHMENT OF WRONGDOERS. This

is familiar truth. Some time or other the cup of a man’s, or a family’s, or a

city’s, or a nation’s iniquity becomes full, and then the Divine judgments

must descend. (Genesis 15:16) 

 

Ø      The world before the Flood,

Ø      the cities of the plain,

Ø      the Egyptians,

Ø      the Israelites,

Ø      Nineveh, and

Ø      Babylon illustrate this.

 

Egypt was smitten for its national sins. We see one special feature of that sin;

it was Pharaoh Menephthah’s treatment of God’s people, in spite of all

warnings that were given him. “Is God righteous who taketh vengeance?”

(Romans 3:5)  Certainly He is. He would be no righteous God if He did not.

 

  • THE DEEPER EXPLANATION: THE LAW OF VICARIOUS

SUFFERING APPLIES EVEN IN THE CASE OF DIVINE

JUDGMENTS. We have yet to apprehend that all moral and spiritual laws

are as absolute, universal, and unchangeable as all natural laws. Vicarious

suffering is absolutely universal. Nobody ever gets any good without

somebody suffering loss. Egypt must suffer if Israel is to be delivered. An

adequate impression of the Divine power must be made on Israel as a basis

of its belief in God, and Egypt must suffer that God’s power may be

shown. It is a thrillingly interesting view of one of the supreme mysteries of

human life, that on one side of them God’s judgments should be

apprehended as vicarious sufferings for the sake of others.

 

12  With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm:”  (compare

Exodus 6:6; Deuteronomy 7:8, 14; Nehemiah 1:10, etc.). Not only the

matter but the manner of the Lord's mighty acts should be the cause of our

praise. We ought to bless the Lord for adverbs as well as adjectives. In the

Exodus the great power and glory of Jehovah were seen. He dashed in

pieces the enemy with His right hand. He led forth His people in no mean or

clandestine manner. "He brought them forth also with silver and gold, and

there was not one feeble person in all their tribes" (ch. 105:37).  Egypt was

glad when they departed. God worked with great display of force, and with

exceeding majesty; He stretched out His arm like a workman intent on his labor,

He lifted up His hand as one who is not ashamed to be seen. Even thus was it

in the deliverance of each one of us from the thraldom of sin; "according to

the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He

raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the

heavenly places." (Ephesians 1:20) - “for His mercy endureth for ever.”

Therefore His power is put forth for the rescue of His own. If one plague will

not set them free there shall be ten; but free they shall all be at the appointed

hour; not one Israelite shall remain under Pharaoh's power. God will

not only use His hand but His arm—His extraordinary power shall be put to

the work sooner than His purpose of mercy shall fail.

 

See, He lifts His strong right hand,

For His mercies steadfast stand.

 

13 “To Him which divided the Red sea into parts: literally, into section —

cut it, as it were, in two (see <021421>Exodus 14:21). He made a road

across the sea bottom, causing the divided waters to stand like walls on

either side. Men deny miracles; but, granted that there is a God, they

become easy of belief. Since it requires me to be an atheist that I may

logically reject miracles, I prefer the far smaller difficulty of believing in the

INFINITE POWER OF GOD!   He who causes the waters of the sea

ordinarily to remain as one mass can with equal readiness divide them. He who

can throw a stone in one direction can with the same force throw it another

way: the Lord can do precisely what He wills, and He wills to do anything

which is for the deliverance of His people - “for His mercy endureth for

ever.” - and therefore it endures through the sea as well as over the dry land.

He will do a new thing to keep His old promise. His way is in the sea

(ch. 77:19),  and He will make a way for His people in the same pathless region.

 

Lo, the Red Sea He divides,

For His mercy sure abides.

 

 

Overcoming Natural Obstacles (v. 13)

 

“Divided the sea in sunder.” The peculiarity of the account given us of this

miracle wrought for the deliverance of Israel is that it gives so distinctly the

natural agencies by which it was wrought. A certain natural obstacle had

to be overcome, and it was overcome by such forces as man would have

used if he had had the nature-forces in his control. We can distinctly

recognize the suitability of the agencies. But here the true miracle comes

in. There was no manufacture of new forces; there was absolute control of

existing forces. There was no accident of wind and tide; there was the

Divine using of wind and tide. When God made natural forces He did not

loosen them from His control. He is always controlling them, and we are

made to feel sure that He is, by some such extraordinary cases of

controling as we have in this crossing of the sea. Geikie says, “Ebb and

flood tide, in the narrow northern ford especially, are greatly affected by

the wind prevailing at any given time A violent north-east gale blew all

night (Exodus 14:21), and drove the waters before it, at ebb-tide, into the

south-west ford, till the sandy ridge of the ford was laid bare, the shore-waters

thus becoming a wall or protection to the Hebrews on the right, and those of

the open sea on the left hand. The storm prolonging the ebb, delayed the

flow of the tide, and thus before morning the whole of the Hebrews were

able to reach the east shore.”

 

  • NATURAL OBSTACLES STILL HINDER GOD’S PEOPLE. Such

natural obstacles as are related to the circumstances of God’s people

nowadays. They often appear as bodily frailty, or as sickness of those to

whom we are bound in duty, or in limitation of means, or insufficiency of

premises for Christian work, or hindering distances from fields of labor, or

strange enmities that seem to check us in every enterprise. And it is not

altogether easy to associate God with such material things, and to realize

that He is actually working for us in the control or removal of them. And

yet just that is the lesson for the ages to be learned from God’s removal of

the hindering Red Sea.  (I recommend:  The Red Sea Crossing

arkdiscovery.comCY – 2017)

 

  • NATURAL OBSTACLES DO BUT REPRESENT THE SPIRITUAL

OBSTACLES OF GOD’S PEOPLE. “We wrestle, not against flesh and

blood, but against principalities and powers.” (Ephesians 6:12)  The spiritual

weaknesses of ourselves, the spiritual forces of evil. Of our spiritual enemy

we may say, “We are not ignorant of his devices.” (II Corinthians 2:11) 

Nor is God. Nor does He fail to master these obstacles or to counteract His

devices.

 

14  And made Israel to pass through the midst of it:”  (see Exodus 14:22, 29;

15:19)  He gave the people courage to follow the predestined track through the

yawning abyss, which might well have terrified a veteran host. It needed no little

generalship to conduct so vast and motley a company along a way so novel

and apparently so dangerous. He made them to pass, by the untrodden

road; He led them down into the deep and up again on the further shore in

perfect order, keeping their enemies back by the thick darkness of the

cloudy pillar. Herein is the glory of God set forth, as all His people see it in

their own deliverance from sin. By faith we also give up all reliance upon

works and trust ourselves to pass by a way which we have not known,

even by the way of reliance upon THE ATONING BLOOD!  Thus are we

effectually sundered from the Egypt of our former estate, and our sins themselves

are drowned. The people marched dry shod through the heart of the sea.

Hallelujah!  - “for His mercy endureth for ever.”  Mercy cleared the road,

mercy cheered the host, mercy led them down, and mercy brought them

 up again.  Even to the depth of the sea mercy reaches, —there is no end to it,

no obstacle in the way of it, no danger to believers in it, WHILE JEHOVAH

IS ALL AROUND!  "Forward?" be our watchword as it was that of Israel of

old, for mercy doth compass us about;

 

Through the fire or through the sea

Still His mercy guards thee.

 

15 “But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea:” (see Exodus 14:27-28;

15:1-10). That the Pharaoh’s death in the Red Sea is not necessarily implied has been

shown in the comment on Exodus.  Here comes the thunder clap. Though we hear

them sounding peal upon peal, yet the judgments of the Lord were only loud mouthed

mercies speaking confusion to the foe, that the chosen might tremble before Him no

longer. The chariots were thrown over, the horses were overthrown. The King and

his warriors were alike overwhelmed; they were hurled from their chariots as

locusts are tossed to and fro in the wind. Broken was the power and

conquered was the pride of Egypt.  (I recommend typing in your browser

 arkdiscovery.com – check out the section dealing with the Red Sea Crossing –

CY – 2011)  Jehovah had vanquished the enemy.  "Art thou not it which cut

 Rahab and wounded crocodile?" (Isaiah 51:9)  None are too great for the

Lord to subdue, none too high for Lord to abase. The enemy in his fury drove

after Israel into the sea, but his wrath found a terrible recompense beneath the

waves - “for His mercy endureth for ever.” Severity to their adversaries was

mercy” to Israel, who could not otherwise have been delivered.  Yes, mercy

continued to protect its children, and therefore called in the aid of justice to

fulfill the capital sentence on their foes. Taken red handed, in the very act of

rebellion against their sovereign Lord, the adversaries met the fate which they

had themselves invited. He that goes into the midst of the sea asks to be

drowned. Sin is self damnation. (Take this section in light of my comment

on v. 10 – It dovetails nicely!  - CY – 2011) The sinner goes downward

of his own choice, and if he finds out too late that he return, is not his blood

upon his own head? The finally impenitent, terrible their doom, will not be

witnesses against mercy; but rather this shall aggravate their misery, that

they went on in defiance of mercy, and would not yield themselves to Him

whose mercy endureth for ever. To the Israelites as they sung this song their

one thought would be of the rescue of their fathers from fierce oppressor. Taken

like a lamb from between the teeth of the lion, justly praises her Deliverer and

chants aloud:

 

Evermore His love shall reign;

Pharaoh and his host are slain.

 

16  To Him which led His people through the wilderness:” (Exodus 13:20-22;

40:36-38; Deuteronomy 8:15). He led them into it, and therefore He was pledged to

lead them through it. They were "His people", and yet they must go into the

wilderness, and the wilderness must remain as barren as ever it was; but in the end

they must come out of it into the promised land. (I recommend Spurgeon Sermon –

NUMBER 1500 OR LIFTING UP THE BRAZEN SERPENT - #5a – this web site –

CY – 2011) God's dealings are mysterious, but they must be right, simply because

they are His. The people knew nothing of the way, but they were led; they were a

vast host, yet they were all led; there were neither roads nor tracks, but being led

by unerring wisdom they never lost their way. He who brought them out of Egypt,

also led them through the wilderness. By Moses, and Aaron, and Jethro, and the

pillar of cloud He led them. What a multitude of mercies are comprehended in the

conduct of such an enormous host through a region wherein there was no provision

even for single travelers; yet the Lord by His infinite power and wisdom

conducted a whole nation for forty years through a desert land, and their

feet did not swell, neither did their garments wax old in all the journey (Deuteronomy

8:4)  - “for His mercy endureth for ever.” Their conduct in the wilderness tested

His mercy most severely, but it bore the strain; many a time He forgave them;

and though He smote them for their transgressions, yet He waited to be

gracious and speedily turned to them in compassion. Their faithfulness

soon failed, but His did not: the fiery, cloudy pillar which never ceased to

lead the van was the visible proof of his immutable love:

 

"For His, mercy, changing never,

Still endureth, sure for ever."

 

 

Providential Guidance (v. 16)

 

Which led His people. The addition, “through the wilderness,” is

significant and suggestive, because a wilderness is distinctly a pathless

region, in which mere human skill is baffled. And it reminds us that Israel

was provided for and guided for thirty-eight long years in such a region.

Surely Israel ought to have said, “God’s providence is mine inheritance.” Is

it a gain or a loss that we have ceased to recognize or to speak much of

God’s providence? It was a very real thing to our fathers; it is not very real

to us. At least, this might appear to be the fact. We are, however, disposed

to argue that the truth and fact are as truly preserved and valued as ever

they were, only they have gained a new setting and new shaping.

 

  • THE IDEA OF PROVIDENCE FITTED THE OLDER CONCEPTION

OF GOD. It belongs to the apprehension of God as Creator, Sustainer,

Ruler. He is Lord of the whole world of things, and is thought of as

controling all things in the interest of His own special people. He is the

Universal Provider, and our fathers delighted in stories of remarkable

providential interpositions, guidances, and arrangements. And still no man

can read his own life, or watch the lives of others, without being impressed

with the wonder-working ways of Divine providence, which make the

unexpected” the thing that happens. Constantly in life we find things are

brought round for us which we could in no way have mastered or arranged.

 

“There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them how we will.”

 

  • THE NEWER CONCEPTION OF GOD GLORIFIES HIS

PROVIDENCE. Christ has brought to men a comprehensive name for

God. It includes the very essence of every previous conception and name,

but puts man into a new and more directly personal and affectionate

relation with God. HE IS OUR FATHER!  And His providence is His

fatherly care of our every interest. Has a child any such providence as his

father is to him? And yet a child never thinks of, or speaks of, his father as

providence.  And in the measure in which we can enter into the idea of God

as our Father, we shall find that we lose out of use the term “providence,” but

keep all the reality of it, and indeed glorify it, as we lose the impersonal and

therefore cold element, and see it to be the wisdom and power and activity

of our Father, which is beautified and sanctified by His love for us His sons.

 

17  To Him which smote great kings:” (see Exodus 14:27-28; 17:8-13;

Numbers 21:24-30, 33-35; Joshua 8:21-26; 10:10-11; Judges 4:10-16; 7:19-23;

11:32-33; I Samuel 7:10-13; II Samuel 8:1-14; 10:8-19; I Kings 20:1-30;

II Kings 3:4-27; 14:25-28; 18:7-8; 19:35; II Chronicles 14:9-15; 20:1-25, etc.).

Within sight of their inheritance Israel had to face powerful enemies. Kings

judged to be great because of the armies at their back blocked up their road.

This difficulty soon disappeared, for the Lord smote their adversaries, and a

single stroke sufficed for their destruction. He who had subdued the really

mighty ruler of Egypt made short work of these petty sovereigns, great though

they were in the esteem of neighboring princes - “for His mercy endureth for

ever.” Mercy, which had brought the chosen tribes so far, would not be

balked by the opposition of boastful foes. The Lord who smote Pharaoh at

the beginning of the wilderness march, smote Sihon and Og at the close of it.

How could these kings hope to succeed when even mercy itself was in arms

against them.

 

Evermore His mercy stands

Saving from the foe man's hands.

 

18  And slew famous kings:” - Oreb, Zeb, Zeba, Zalmunna, Agag.

What good was their fame to them? As they opposed God they became infamous

rather than famous. Their deaths made the Lord's fame to increase among the

nations while their fame ended in disgraceful defeat - “for His mercy endureth

for ever.” Israelitish patriots felt that they, could never have too much of this music;

God had protected their nation, and they chanted His praises with unwearied

iteration.

 

Kings He smote despite their fame,

For His mercy's still the same.

 

19  Sihon king of the Amorites:” -  (compare Psalm 135:11). Let the name be

mentioned that the mercy may be the better remembered. Sihon smote Moab, but he

could not smite Israel, for the Lord smote him. He was valiant and powerful, so as to

be both great and famous; but as he wilLfully refused to give a peaceful

passage to the Israelites, and fought against them in malice, there was no

choice for it but to let him run into that destruction which he courted. His

fall was speedy and final, and the chosen people were so struck with it that

they sung of his overthrow in their national songs - “for His mercy endureth

for ever.” His mercy is no respecter of persons, and neither the greatness nor

the fame of Sihon could protect him after he had dared to attack Israel. The Lord

will not forsake His people because Sihon blusters.

 

Come what may

By night or day,

Still most sure,

His love shall dure.

 

20  And Og the king of Bashan:” – (Numbers 21:33; Psalm 135:11).  He was of the

race of the giants, but he was routed like a pygmy when he entered the lists with

Israel's God.  The Lord's people were called upon to fight against him, but it was

God who won the victory. (My father used to say “We killed a bear but Pa shot

it!” – this is certainly applicable here – CY – 2011)  The fastnesses of Bashan

were no defense against Jehovah. Og was soon ousted from his stronghold when

the captain of the Lord's host led the war against him. He had to exchange his

bedstead of iron (Deuteronomy 3:11) for a bed in the dust, for he fell on the

battle field. Glory be to the divine conqueror, “for His mercy endureth for ever.”

 

Giant kings before Him yield,

Mercy ever holds the field.

 

If Sihon could not turn the Lord from His purpose we may be sure that Og

could not. He who delivers us out of one trouble will rescue us out of

another, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His grace in us.

 

21  And gave their land for an heritage:”  (see Joshua 12:1-6).  As Lord of the

whole earth He transferred his estate from one tenant to another. The land did not

become the property of the Israelites by their own sword and bow, but by a

grant from the throne. This was the great end which all along had been

aimed at from Egypt to Jordan. He who brought His people out also

brought them in. He who had promised the land to the seed of Abraham

also saw to it that the deed of gift did not remain a dead letter. Both our

temporal and our spiritual estates come to us by royal charter. What God

gives us is ours by the best of titles. Inheritance by God's gift is tenure

which even Satan cannot dispute - “for His mercy endureth for ever.”

Faithful love endures without end, and secures its own end. "Thou wilt

 surely bring them in", said the prophet poet; and here we see the deed

complete.

 

Till they reach the promised land

Mercy still the same must stand.

 

22  Even an heritage unto Israel His servant:” (compare ch. 135:12)  Repetitions

are effective in poetry, and the more so if there be some little variation in them,

bringing out into fuller light some point which else had not been noticed. The lands

of the heathen kings were given to "Israel", the name by which the chosen

seed is here mentioned for the third time in the Psalm, with the addition of

the words, "His servant." The leasehold of Canaan to Israel after the flesh

was made dependent upon suit and service rendered to the Lord of the

manor by whom the lease was granted. It was a country worth singing

about, richly justifying the two stanzas devoted to it. The division of the

country by lot, and the laws by which the portions of ground were reserved

to the owners and their descendants for a perpetual inheritance were fit

subjects for song. Had other nations enjoyed land laws which ensured to

every family a plot of ground for cultivation, much of the present

discontent would never have arisen, beggary would soon have become

uncommon, and poverty itself would have been rare - “for His mercy endureth

for ever.” Yes, mercy fights for the land, mercy divides the spoil among its

favored ones, and mercy secures each man in his inheritance. Glory be to God

the faithful One.

 

"For His mercy full and free.

Wins us full felicity."

 

 

 

Fulfillment of Race-Missions (vs. 21-22)

 

“And gave their land for an heritage.” The Amorites had their race-mission;

when it was fulfilled they had to pass away, and their land had to be

occupied by another race (Genesis 15:16), which also had its peculiar mission.

It has been pointed out that no absolutely original and independent race ever

existed on the face of the earth. No race has a simple beginning, and no race can

unfold without streams of life pouring into it from outside and modifying

its character. This may be strictly true, but nevertheless the fact remains

that distinct races of men can be discerned in actual existence, as well as in

the records of ancient history. Explain it how we may, qualify the

statement how we may, it remains the fact that God has been pleased to

separate humanity into races; and this division is even more important than

that into nations. Families and races are Divine divisions; nations are purely

human arrangements, which God may be pleased to use, but cannot be said

directly to arrange. Races are differentiated with a Divine purpose, and

each race should be regarded as entrusted with a Divine mission. It is well

to bear in mind that by God everything is done or borne with a view to THE

ULTIMATE WELL-BEING OF HUMANITY!   God always has the whole in

view, and deals with every part in the interests of the whole. The Israelitish race

attracts great attention, but it was not the only race placed under Divine

commission. What we so clearly see was true of it — was true of every

other race, and its mission was but an illustrative mission. The better we

understand the peculiarities of the races that have had their day and ceased

to be, and the more fully we understand God’s educative purposes for

humanity, the more clearly shall we apprehend that every race has had

some imperiled truth to preserve, and some active witness to make. God

has commissioned THEM ALL, and worked by means of them all, just as truly

as by the Hebrew race; and every race is immortal till its work is done; then

it passes and gives place to the new race with the new mission.

 

23  Who remembered us in our low estate:” When we were

brought low. The time meant is probably that of the Babylonian captivity,

which is the subject of the next psalm. Personal mercies awake

the sweetest song—"He remembered us." Our prayer is, "Lord, remember

me", and this is our encouragement—He has remembered us. For the Lord

even to think of us is a wealth of mercy. Ours was a sorry estate, —an

estate of bankruptcy and mendicancy. Israel rested in its heritage, but we

were still in bondage, groaning in captivity: the Lord seemed to have

forgotten us, and left us in our sorrow; but it was not so for long: He

turned again in His compassion, bethinking Himself of His afflicted children.

Our state was once so low as to be at hell's mouth; since then it has been

low in poverty, bereavement, despondency, sickness, and heart sorrow, and

we fear, also, sinfully low in faith, and love, and every other grace; and yet

the Lord has not forgotten us as a dead thing out of mind; but He has

tenderly remembered us still. We thought ourselves too small and too

worthless for His memory to burden itself about us, yet He remembered us -

for His mercy endureth for ever.”  Yes, this is one of the best proofs of the

immutability of His mercy, for if He could have changed towards any, it

would certainly have been towards us who have brought ourselves low,

kept ourselves low, and prepared ourselves to sink yet lower. It is

memorable mercy to remember us in our low estate: in our highest joys we

will exalt Jehovah's name, since of this we are sure, —He will not now

desert us:

 

For His mercy full and free

Lasteth to eternity.

 

 

 

Remembered of God (v. 23)

 

We were so; for:

 

  • WE WERE ALL IN “LOW ESTATE.”

 

Ø      By inherited nature inclining us to sin.

Ø      By our own actual sin.

Ø      By our subjection to earthly care and sorrow.

Ø      By death overtaking us all.

 

  • BUT GOD REMEMBERED US.

 

Ø      He might have acted far otherwise. He could have condemned us all

to death, or forgotten us and left us to go our own ways.

 

Ø      But He remembered us. Indeed, though it seemed to our eye as if we

had but just come into God’s mind, we had, in fact, never been absent

from His mind. (See the progression of man’s redemption from the first

purpose of grace in God down to our own individual redemption.) On

and on the blessed work proceeded.

 

Ø      AND HE REMEMBERS US STILL!

 

  • THE EXPLANATION OF THIS IS THE NEVER-FAILING

MERCY OF GOD.

 

Ø      For think of God. Could He, being so great and gracious as He is, do

other than give this redemption to us?

 

Ø      Of the gift itself. Could we by any acts of our own purchase or procure

it? Was it not utterly out of our reach?

 

Ø      Of ourselves. Not only are we lacking in great amount of merit, but in

all merit. How BUT BY GOD’S MERCY can we be saved?

 

 

The Divine Dealing with the Humiliated (v. 23)

 

“Who remembered us in our low estate. This closing portion of the psalm

proves its association with the restored exiles. That long time in Babylon

was ever thought of and spoken of as the great time of national

humiliation. Never before had the national life been broken up, the national

capital been in the hands of the enemy, and laid in ruins, or the temple, as

the center of the religious life of the nation, destroyed. Humiliation

expresses precisely the experience through which the nation had been

called to pass. But a condition of humiliation never puts either a man or a

nation out of the Divine regard. Such conditions belong to the Divine

discipline, and that means the immediate and direct Divine interest. And

this the psalmist recognizes. God had remembered His people in their low

estate; and how practical that remembrance was is seen in the fact that, in

due time, He redeemed His people from out of the hands of the enemies that

humiliated them.

 

  • THE DIVINE DEALING WITH THE HUMILIATED MAY BE AN

ENDURANCE. He may let it continue. He may seem to hold aloof, and to

restrain Himself. But endurance is altogether different from lost interest or

forsaking. Endurance means knowledge, watchfulness, and sympathy. It is

only “biding His time,” patiently waiting until the best time has come, and

so supremely seeking the highest well-being of the humiliated, that no

limitation of the stern discipline can be permitted. There are conditions of

life — religious life — in which God can only carry out His purposes of

grace by our humiliation. It is the marvel of his love that he will even do a

thorough work of humiliation.

 

  • THE DIVINE DEALING WITH THE HUMILIATED IS SURE TO

PASS INTO A REDEMPTION. God’s endurings have no stamp of

permanency. They are only agencies working with a view to some issue.

And GOD’S FINAL ISSUES ARE ALWAYS REDEMPTION!   

God’s people cannot be humiliated forever in any Babylonian slavery.

Man may humiliate his fellow, and never loosen the humiliation. The

overruling God never does. There is always something good and gracious

towards which the humiliation is moving. Sooner or later, the humiliated

will be redeemed.

 

24  And hath redeemed us from our enemies:” rather, and redeemed us —

or, “snatched us” — from our enemies.  Israel's enemies brought

the people low; but the Lord intervened, and turned the tables by a great

redemption. The expression implies that they had become like slaves, and

were not set free without price and power; for they needed to be

"redeemed." In our case the redemption which is in Christ Jesus is an

eminent reason for giving thanks unto the Lord. Sin is our enemy, and we

are redeemed from it by the atoning blood; Satan is our enemy, and we are

redeemed from him by the Redeemer's power; the world is our enemy, and

we are redeemed from it by the Holy Spirit. We are ransomed, let us enjoy

our liberty; Christ has wrought our redemption, let us praise His name -

for His mercy endureth for ever.” Even to redemption by the death of His

Son did divine mercy stretch itself. What more can be desired? What more

can be imagined? Many waters could not quench love, neither could the

floods drown it. (Song of Solomon 8:7)

 

E'en to death upon the tree

Mercy dureth faithfully.

 

25  Who giveth food to all flesh:” Has a care, i.e., not only for man, but also for

animals (compare Psalm 104:27; 145:15; 147:9; Jonah 4:11). Common providence,

which cares for all living things, deserves our most devout thanks. If we think of

heavenly food, by which all saints are supplied, our praises rise to a still

greater height; but meanwhile the universal goodness of God in feeding all

His creatures is as worthy of praise as His special favors to the elect

nation. Because the Lord feeds all life therefore we expect him to take

special care of His own family.  “The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and

raiseth up all those that be bowed down.  The eyes of all wait upon

thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.  Thou openest

thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing”  (ch. 145:14-16) -

for His mercy endureth for ever.” Reaching downward even to beasts and

reptiles, it is, indeed, a boundless mercy, which knows no limit because of

the meanness of its object.

 

"All things living He doth feed,

His full hand supplies their need;

For His mercy shall endure,

Ever faithful, ever sure."

 

 

From Egypt to Canaan (vs. 10-25)

 

Almost every reader of Israel’s history has seen, as surely it was intended

that there should be seen, the pattern and picture of the soul’s journey out

of the misery and bondage of sin into the glorious liberty wherewith Christ

doth make His people free. It is a long and arduous journey, but blessed are

they which take it. These verses imply or state its chief stages.

 

  • THE PREPARATION FOR THIS JOURNEY. This is not stated, but

implied. We know the weariness and distress, the hard bondage and the

cruel oppression, which led Israel to cry out unto the Lord. And the like of

it the soul knows in its more than Egyptian bondage and oppression

through sin. And ere the actual deliverance comes there has been the cry

unto the Lord.

 

  • ITS DIFFERENT STEPS.

 

Ø      Believing in God. This was shown by their obedience to the command

as to the Passover. Unbelief might have caviled and objected, but the spirit

of faith was given, and all Israel kept the Passover. And ere deliverance

comes to the soul, there is and must be faith in Christ our Passover; the

definite trust in Him as our Savior.

 

Ø      The breaking of the oppressors power. (v. 10.) That which in the

consciousness of the redeemed soul corresponds to what this verse tells of

is the suspension of the power of sin. Whether permanently or not, for a

time that power seems paralyzed, as was the power of Pharaoh when the

firstborn were smitten. We are under its cruel compulsion no longer.

 

Ø      The actual deliverance. (vs. 12-13.) They went out of Egypt; so does

the soul abandon its old ways, and start for the promised possession.

 

Ø      Complete consecration. It seemed as if Israel were to be dragged back

again into slavery there at Pihahiroth — as if the old misery were to come

over again. How often the soul has found the like of that! But the

command came to Israel to “go forward.” (Exodus 14:15)  It seemed

impossible, but they obeyed, and lo! the Red Sea parted asunder (vs. 13-14).

Paul speaks of this as their being “baptized unto Moses in the cloud and

in the sea.”  It was the type of the soul’s complete consecration. It will obey

God, cost what it will; though it be like plunging into the sea, yet it will obey.

That is what we must do. Then comes:

 

Ø      Further and complete deliverance. (v. 15.) When the soul thus

resolves to obey God at all costs, even if it be like going straight to death,

then, behold! the way will be opened, and what seemed like death will

prove to be life, and our enemies trouble us no more. The soul’s self-

surrender to God is the destruction of its foes.

 

Ø      The wilderness trial and training. (v. 16.) The Law was given, and

then came the tests of obedience. Israel was tried by providential

circumstances, by evil example, by fierce attacks of mighty kings. The

redeemed life must be a tried life; but, if we be really of God’s Israel, it will

be an overcoming life.

 

  • ITS BLESSED END. (vs. 21-22.) And so the soul shall come into

its heavenly places in Christ (see Ephesians 1:3). It shall gain

its inheritance and keep it, in the rest which remaineth for the people of

God, of which Canaan was the earthly type.

 

26  O give thanks unto the God of heaven:” “The God of heaven” is a favorite

designation of God in the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel (Ezra 1:2; 5:11-12;

6:9-10; 7:12, 21; Nehemiah 1:4-5; 2:4, 20; Daniel 2:18-19,37,44). It was a phrase

known to the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Persians.  The title is full of honor.

The Lord is God in the highest realms, and among celestial beings. His

throne is set in glory, above all, out of reach of foes, in the place of

universal oversight. He who feeds ravens and sparrows is yet the glorious

God of the highest realms. Angels count it their glory to proclaim His glory

in every heavenly street. See herein the greatness of His nature, the depth of

His condescension, and the range of His love. Mark the one sole cause of

His bounty -“for His mercy endureth for ever.” He hath done all things

from this motive; and because His mercy never ceases, He will continue to

multiply deeds of love world without end. LET US WITH ALL OUR

POWERS OF HEART AND TONGUE GIVE THANKS UNTO THE

HOLY NAME OF JEHOVAH FOR EVER AND EVER!

 

"Change and decay in all around I see,

O thou who changest not, abide with me."

 

 

The Divine Constancy (vs. 1-26)

 

The refrain of each verse of the psalm may supply us with a guiding

thought in our treatment of it. From the first beginnings of creation (as we

are affected by them) to the last hour of human experience, we have

evidence of the goodness, the “mercy,” of the Lord.   It:

 

Ø      has endured through all generations,

Ø      is with us now, and

Ø      will attend our race (we are sure) to the end of time.

 

We find it:

 

  • IN THE DIVINE PROVISION. God gave us sun, moon, and stars at the

first. These have been giving light to men everywhere and in all ages. They

have been regulating the seasons of the year and the tides of ocean, and

they have been counting time for us with unbroken constancy. Seed-time

and harvest have not failed; food has been given to all flesh, to man and

beast, through all the centuries (v. 25). If the earth has been barren in one

part, it has been fruitful in another. Nothing has been needed to supply all

mankind with the necessaries and the comforts of life but man’s own

diligence, enterprise, and economy. GOD HAS SUPPLIED HIS PART!

His kindness is constant.

 

  • IN DIVINE RETRIBUTION. (vs. 10-15, 17-20.) No doubt this

recurring sentence, “His mercy endureth for ever,” is written by the

psalmist from Israel’s point of view. That is quite obvious from the words

with which these verses are connected. The destruction of Israel’s enemies

meant the deliverance, in mercy, of Israel itself. But we may pause to

remember that all righteous retribution is a part of Divine goodness. No

greater calamity could befall us than Divine indifference to sin and

unlimited permission to indulge in it; no more serious injury, therefore,

could be done us than the withholding of Divine penalty when sin and

wrong are done by us. That would inevitably issue in the loss of all real

reverence for God, and of all respect for ourselves. It would mean the

simple annihilation of human character, of human worth, of the distinctive

excellency of human life. God’s abiding hatred and punishment of sin is an

element of His constant kindness to our race, as well as a permanent feature

of HIS OWN DIVINE CHARACTER!

 

  • IN DIVINE COMPASSION AND REDEMPTION. God has ever

been pitiful, and His compassion has called forth His power to save.

 

Ø      There are two notable instances of this in Hebrew history:

 

o       the deliverance from Egyptian hardship and bondage

(Exodus 3:7-8), and,

o       the restoration from captivity in Babylon (Ezra 1.). God

remembered them in their low estate,” and “redeemed

them from their enemies.”

 

Ø      There was one culminating and transcendent illustration of this in the

Advent of our Lord. He saw us in our “low estate.” The world was sunk

in superstition, in vice, in violence, in misery, in spiritual death. No

estate” could be lower than that of the human world when

Jesus Christ came into it; and then He accomplished that work

which is to issue in its “redemption.”  (He did this “by Himself!” -

Hebrews 1:2 – CY – 2017)

 

Ø      We have individual-illustrations of it now. The eye that looked down in

pity on the earliest sorrows and struggles of His children regards today

with tender commiseration the sufferings and the trials of His people.

In all our affliction He is afflicted. He is “touched with the feeling

of our infirmities(Hebrews 4:15). He is mindful of our danger when

in the midst of temptation, and, in answer to our prayer, He redeems us

from the power of our adversary. To the latest hour of individual life,

to the last hour of time, we shall be able to look up with holy confidence

for sympathy and succor; “for His mercy endureth for ever.”

 

 

Repetitions Many, But not Vain (vs. 1-26)

 

Over and over again the refrain comes, “His mercy endureth for ever.” But

it is never a vain repetition, unless the mind, by its heedlessness, makes it

so. It is like the German piece of music which is called ‘The Fremensberg,’

which tells one of the old legends of the region — how “a great noble of

the Middle Ages got lost in the mountains, and wandered about with his

dogs in a violent storm, until at last the faint tones of a monastery-bell,

calling the monks to a midnight service, caught his ear, and he followed the

direction the sounds came from, and was saved. A beautiful air runs

through the music without ceasing, sometimes loud and strong, sometimes

so soft that it can hardly be distinguished, but it is always there. It swung

grandly along the shrill whistling of the storm-wind, the rattling patter of

the rain, and the boom and crash of the thunder; it wound soft and low

through the lesser sounds, the distant ones, such as the throbbing of the

convent-bell, the melodious winding of the hunter’s horn, the distressed

bayings of his dogs, and the solemn chanting of the monks; it rose again,

with a jubilant ring, and mingled itself with the country songs and dances of

the peasants assembled in the concert-hall to cheer up the rescued

huntsman as he ate his supper, imitating all these sounds with marvelous

exactness. The solemn chanting of the monks was not done by instruments,

but by men’s voices, and it rose and felt and rose again in that rich

confusion of warring sounds and pulsing bells, and the stately swing of that

ever-present enchanting air, and it seemed to me that nothing could be

more divinely beautiful” (Mark Twain). So the sweet refrain of this psalm

is heard amid all variety of circumstances, and is never absent, but investing

with its own charm every one of the manifold statements which the psalm

contains. But wherefore all this repetition?

 

  • BECAUSE WE ARE SO APT TO FORGET THE TRUTH IT TELLS

OF. Is not this so? “The ox knoweth its owner, and the ass his master’s

crib:  but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isaiah 1:3).

 

  • BECAUSE IT IS A TRUTH SO UNSPEAKABLY IMPORTANT.

We repeat messages to those who we know are liable to forget, and we do

so the more according to the importance of the message. And none can be

more important than this, consider it how we will. Who is there that does

not need to remember it, that is not every way the better for the

remembrance of it?

 

  • BECAUSE, WHEN IT IS REMEMBERED, BELIEVED, AND

REALIZED IN THE HEART WE CANNOT KEEP SILENCE ABOUT

AT. “I believed, therefore have I spoken  (II Corinthians 4:13) said Paul;

and it has ever been so. He who wrote this psalm believed this most blessed

truth of God’s mercy enduring forever, and he could not keep silence; nor

shall we when we in like manner believe.

 

 

 

Does His Mercy Endure Forever? (vs. 1-26)

 

How many voices there are that seem to deny the blessed declaration

which is repeated in every verse of this psalm, and in so many other psalms

and Scriptures beside!

 

  • THE VOICE OF EARTHLY SORROW SEEMS TO DENY IT.

“What!” says one, “His mercy endureth for ever? And I, once so happily

placed, and to whom all life was bright, and now so utterly poor, a ruined

man: how can His mercy endure forever? I cannot believe it.” And here is

another who has been bitterly bereaved, the light of his home gone out.

And another whose heart smarts within him from a sense of cruel wrong

which has been inflicted on him, and which has embittered all his life. And

another whose existence is one long pain. And another racked with anxiety.

Oh, how many such there are to whom the talk of God’s mercy seems as

an impossible and an idle thought!

 

  • AND THE VOICE OF THE POPULAR THEOLOGY HAS

PRACTICALLY DENIED IT. For it represents God as a moral Governor

who has attached a tremendous penalty to sin — a penalty at the very

thought of which the heart shudders, and who would inflict this on

mankind generally, for that all have sinned, only that mercy interposes, and

by the sacrifice of Christ opens a way of escape for all who will believe.

Now, in this representation there is very much that is scriptural and true,

but it errs in representing the foundation of the Divine character as that of

the magistrate rather than of the father. As if His great purpose were to

maintain a law rather than to train and to teach, to restore and to redeem.

And hence they limit this salvation to the baptized, or to the elect, or to

those who dwell in Christian lands. And they limit it likewise to the present

life. Thus, practically, they seem to deny THE EVER-ENDURING

CHARACTER OF GOD’S MERCY. 

 

  • AND THERE IS MUCH IN SCRIPTURE THAT SEEMS TO

SUPPORT THIS DENIAL. Certainly there are no direct statements that

teach that outside the limits of faith in Christ, and of the present life, there

is yet salvation, and there are many which seem to distinctly say there is

not.

 

  • AND THERE ARE AWFUL FACTS IN LIFE WHICH POINT IN

THE SAME DIRECTION. Men, many of them, do, so far as we can see,

die in their sins, having no part nor lot in the kingdom of God.

 

  • BUT, IN SPITE OF ALL THIS, GOD’S MERCY ENDURETH

FOREVER.

 

Ø      It must be so because of His declared character. God is love. He is our

Father. His mercy is not an attribute external to Himself, something that He

has assumed; but IT IS WHAT HE IS IN HIS OWN INHERENT NATURE!

Therefore so long as God exists, His mercy must exist likewise, that is,

MUST ENDURE FOR EVER!

 

Ø      Because of His declared purpose. He has no pleasure in the death of him

that dieth. (Ezekiel 33:11; II Peter 3:9)  He will have all men to be saved.

He gave His only begotten Son to die for us all, and to Him every knee shall

bow. “The Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of

the devil.” (I John 3:8)  Can His purpose, then, be forever thwarted?

 

Ø      The manifest design of all His dealings with us. His perpetual goodness.

The afflictions and sorrows He sends, they are for good, not ill; for healing,

not harm. And the punishments He inflicts, they are not in vengeance, but

to subdue the perverse will!  Love is at the heart of things, the ultimate

reason of them all.

 

Ø      What He has already done. The most stubborn wills He has subdued, and

does subdue day by day. The resources of His mercy are not exhausted

or exhaustible.

 

 

The Church’s Antiphon (vs. 1-26)

 

There can be no doubt that this psalm was sung antiphonally in the Jewish

temple, some of the priests reciting or chanting the first portion of each

verse, and then the whole congregation responding, “For his mercy

endureth forever.” But this oft-repeated declaration belongs not to the

Jewish Church alone, but to the whole Church of God throughout all the

ages and in all the world. “One February night, A.D. 358, the great church

at Alexandria was bright with lights far into the night, and still the

congregation did not disperse. The Bishop Athanasius was there, and the

service was to be prolonged till morning; for next day the Holy

Communion was to be celebrated, and it was the frequent custom among

the early Christians to spend the preceding night in prayer and singing

hymns. All knew that further troubles were hanging over their beloved

bishop, and that the time of his presence with them would probably be very

short. Suddenly a clashing noise broke the stillness. The church was

surrounded by armed men. With calm presence of mind, Athanasius rose

and gave out the hundred and thirty-sixth psalm, which has to every verse

the response, For his mercy endureth for ever. The whole congregation

joined in thundering forth those grand words, when the door was burst

open, and the imperial envoy, at the head of a body of soldiers, walked up

the aisle. For a moment the soldiers drew back in awe at the solemn sound

of the chanting, but again they pressed on, and a shower of arrows flew

through the church. Swords flashed, arms rattled, and rough shouts

interrupted the music. Athanasius retained his seat till the congregation had

dispersed, then he too disappeared in the darkness, and no one knew where

he was gone. He found a refuge among his old friends the hermits of

Egypt” (quoted from Perowne). The blessed truth it declares is:

 

  • THE EXPLANATION OF ALL THAT GOD IS AND DOES. After

each recital of what God is or of what He has done, it is added, as if by way

of explanation, “For His mercy,” etc. And it is declared, not in connection

alone with statements as to the holiness, the greatness, the majesty, and the

love of God, not alone in connection with His acts of creation and of

beneficence, but with those of judgment and awful punishment as well All

are included. And they all must have some explanation. The psalm gives

this, “For his mercy,” etc. Can any one find a better, or one that so meets

the manifold aspects of the problem of human life? Even His judgments, His

strange work”  (Isaiah 28:21), have mercy at the heart of them, as a little

reflection will perceive.

 

  • THE CLAMANT NEED OF ALL THE CHILDREN OF GOD. For

who is there of woman born that does not need mercy, that can say he has

no sin, that God has nothing to accuse him of? Where, but for God’s

mercy, should any of us have been? And not only do we need mercy, but

enduring mercy. We can give God no guarantee that if He forgive us we

shall need His forgiveness never more. Alas! it is our daily need. Even as

we are taught to ask day by day for daily bread, so also are we to pray

daily, “And forgive us our sins.”  (Luke 11:4)

 

  • THE INSPIRATION OF ALL THE SERVANTS OF GOD. “The

love of Christ constraineth us”  (II Corinthians 5:14),  said Paul; and

as it was with him so is it with all God’s servants. It is not the lack of fear,

the goading of conscience, the command of duty, that impel the servant

of God, but the inspiration of the love this antiphon declares.

 

  • THE GLAD CONFESSION OF ALL THE REDEEMED OF GOD.

They confess it here on earth; in heaven, “Worthy is the Lamb” (Revelation

5:12; I recommend typing in your browser Worthy is the Lamb and listen

to the music for effect on the spirit! – CY – 2017)  which is but another form

of this same blessed truth, is the perpetual theme of the ransomed there.

 

  • THE ENCOURAGEMENT FOR ALL WHO DESIRE TO RETURN

TO GOD. See the prodigal. it was the memory of his father’s house that

determined him on returning home. (Luke 15:11-32)  He felt sure that his

father’s love would not fail him. And so still, it is the proclamation and the

belief of the mercy that endureth forever which emboldens the contrite heart

to cast itself upon God (Psalm 51:17).

 

  • THAT WHICH THE BELIEVER KEEPS TELLING OVER AND

OVER AGAIN UNWEARIEDLY. See in this psalm how perpetually it is

repeated, and this is but an example of what the heart of God’s redeemed

people ever delights in. What are the favorite hymns, the most blessed

portions of Scripture, but those which tell most clearly and fully of the

mercy that endureth for ever? And when we come to die, there is nothing

else that so soothes and strengthens the departing soul as this same truth as

it is seen in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 



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