Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
Psalm 136 is known in Jewish tradition as the Great Hallel (from hallelujah; a psalm of praise). The writer of this psalm is not given, although some commentators suggest it was David. This joyful psalm was likely used as a responsive reading or song. The congregation would repeat (or sing) in unison the refrain “His love endures forever” after an individual or a choir of priests and Levites sang each opening sentence. It is also thought that it was likely sung during the dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 7:3, 6).
The Psalm is about God's steadfast love, an expression that is used over and over again in the Old Testament, and twenty-six times in Psalm 136 alone! No modern word can fully capture the meaning; we translate it “kindness,” “lovingkindness,” “mercy,” or “loyalty.” God's steadfast love is a love that is based on covenant commitment; a love that is loyal and faithful. Even when God’s people sinned, He was faithful in loving them. Steadfast love is an integral part of the character of God (Exodus 34:6).
When I was a child, I sometimes took my papa’s love for granted. Sometimes now I do the same thing with my heavenly Father’s love. I forget to listen to God and respond. I forget to be grateful. Yet, I know that God’s love for me remains steadfast; a reality that provides a sure foundation for all of my life.
Great God of lovingkindness, I praise You for Your steadfast love to me! Even when I am faithless, You are faithful. Thank You, Father God. In Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.