Daybreak: Psalms 135:1 through 136:26
“The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 136:9)
As I gazed up at the moon showing half of its beaming face, I was struck with awe at how it resembled a frosted dome hanging from a dark blue ceiling.
It shone boldly in the heavens while day slipped quietly into darkness. It was as if this ruler of the night sky was coming on the late shift to make
sure the heavens continued to declare the glory of God.
Viewing the heavens on another clear evening, I saw the stars and planets begin poking through a soft navy blue blanket of sky. Darkness settled in, and
the moon became brighter, appearing to look contentedly over the kingdom God had given it. As its radiance shed a mellow glow around me, I thought,
How could anything be lovelier?
In verses 5-9 of Psalm 136, the psalmist focused on the wonders of creation. We easily sense that his pen could have filled many more pages with adoration
for our Creator! Consider that everything we see around us was made by God. From the ocean depths to the vast sky above, from the rolling desert sands
to the wooded mountainside, the awesome handiwork of God is a continual testimony to His creative nature.
However, the psalmist did not call Israel to praise God solely for His creation, as awe-inspiring as the wonders of creation are. He also admonished Israel
to give thanks to God for His character. He did this by linking each example from nature to God’s “mercy” — a Hebrew word that includes the thought
of love, kindness, and faithfulness. The psalmist’s repetition of the phrase, “for his mercy endureth for ever,” seems to indicate that his heart was
swelling with an ever-increasing sense of gratitude to the One who made all things, and whose mercy reaches out to man. In fact, His mercy is even
more constant than creation — someday this earth will pass away, but God’s Word tells us that God’s mercy will endure forever!
When you see the moon glowing in the night sky, praise the Lord! When you trace the stars, making patterns in the black of night, praise the Lord! When
you watch the sunrise climbing over the horizon, praise the Lord! Give thanks not only for the beautiful world around you, but also for the blessed
assurance that His mercy endures forever.
Psalm 135 is a collection of phrases and thoughts taken from other psalms and books of the Bible. For example, the opening verse is a rearrangement of
Psalm 113:1; verse 4 references the “peculiar treasure” of Exodus 19:5; and verse 7 quotes Jeremiah 10:13. One reason authors compiled verses
was to commemorate a special event. Psalm 135 may have been composed for use at the dedication of the second Temple, because it follows the pattern
of dedication psalms — a theme of praise with a brief history of Israel. It is classified as a hallelujah psalm, and contrasts the greatness
of God with the vanity of heathen idols.
The psalmist offered three examples of God’s love: His love for and choosing of Israel, His creative power, and His sovereignty in history. The “tokens”
referred to in verse 9 were the plagues God sent upon Egypt. Sihon and Og, mentioned in verse 11, were notable Amorite kings who were conquered by
Israel (see Numbers 21:24, 35; Deuteronomy 2:33; 3:3).
This psalm begins with a triple call to praise Jehovah in verse 1, and concludes with a four-fold call to bless Jehovah (verses 19-20).
In Jewish writings, Psalm 136 is frequently referred to as “The Great Hallel.” It is a companion psalm to 135, sharing a similar theme. Where Psalm 135
begins with an exhortation to “Praise ye the Lord,” this psalm begins with an exhortation to “Give thanks unto the Lord.” Both psalms then list reasons
to praise or thank the Lord, following the same order of topics and utilizing some identical phrases.
A unique aspect of Psalm 136 is the repeated refrain, “his mercy endureth for ever.” This phrase may have been sung or chanted responsively by the congregation
after a priest or the Levitical choir recited the first half of each verse.
In summary, the psalmist said that God had remembered the Israelites when they were slaves in Egypt, He delivered them from their enemies in Canaan, and
He provides sustenance for all the living, so thanks are due to Him.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- According to Psalm 136:5, what did God use to make the heavens?
- In what ways were the idols of Psalm 135 similar to the idols that people worship today?
- If you were to review your personal history as the psalmist did Israel’s history, what specific events would you praise and thank God for?
God is more than worthy of our praise. We can show our appreciation by remembering, as the psalmist did, to praise and thank Him for who He is, what He
has created, and His goodness toward us.