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Psalm 136 – God’s Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Summary

God's steadfast love engenders thanks and praise in every generation.

Analysis

This psalm is known in Jewish worship as the Great Hallel (or great hymn of praise). It is used in the Seder, the order for the Jewish observance of Passover. The structure suggests that the second half of each verse ("for his steadfast love endures forever") was said or sung as a refrain by the worshiping community in response to the recitation of God's saving acts throughout history.


The psalm recounts God's work of creation (vv. 4-9) and highlights the exodus and the gift of the land to God's people (vv. 10-22). These are the fundamental works of God for Israel (exodus and land) and for all (creation). Thus, Israel and all subsequent readers of the psalm can be assured of God's ongoing providence (v. 22) and join in the praise and thanks of all previous generations.

Psalm 136

God’s Work in Creation and in History


1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever.
2 O give thanks to the God of gods,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;


4 who alone does great wonders,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
5 who by understanding made the heavens,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
6 who spread out the earth on the waters,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
7 who made the great lights,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;


10 who struck Egypt through their firstborn,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
13 who divided the Red Sea* in two,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,*
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
16 who led his people through the wilderness,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
17 who struck down great kings,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
18 and killed famous kings,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
22 a heritage to his servant Israel,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever.


23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever;
25 who gives food to all flesh,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever.


26 O give thanks to the God of heaven,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever.

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10 February 2011

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