|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
136:1-9 Forgetful as we are, things must be often repeated to us. By mercy we understand the Lord's disposition to save those whom sin has rendered miserable and vile, and all the provision he has made for the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ. The counsels of this mercy have been from everlasting, and the effects of it will endure for ever, to all who are interested in it. The Lord continues equally ready to show mercy to all who seek for it, and this is the source of all our hope and comfort.
Verse 1. - Oh give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Identical with the first verse of Psalm 118, which is probably a very ancient formula, and one used at the erection both of the first (2 Chronicles 5:13) and of the second temple (Ezra 3:11).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good,.... In himself, and to all his creatures; and especially to his chosen people, who therefore should give thanks to him daily in the name of Christ, for all blessings temporal and spiritual, in faith and fervency, and in the sincerity of their souls, with their whole heart;
for his mercy endureth for ever; it is the same with his love, which is from everlasting to everlasting; and continues notwithstanding the sins of his people, the hidings of his face from them, and his chastisements of them; the covenant which is founded on mercy, and all the blessings of it, which are the sure mercies of David, last for ever; and hence the vessels of mercy shall certainly be saved, and not lost; see Psalm 106:1.
The Treasury of David
1 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
"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."
"O give thanks unto the God of gods," 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.
"O give thanks to the Lord of lords." 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." 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,
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 136:1-26. The theme is the same as that of Psalm 135. God should be praised for His works of creation and providence, His deliverance and care of His people, and judgments on their enemies, and His goodness to all. The chorus to every verse is in terms of that of Ps 106:1; 118:1-4, and was perhaps used as the Amen by the people, in worship (compare 1Ch 16:36; Ps 105:45).
1-3. The divine titles denote supremacy.
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