Thursday, May 19, 2011

Psalm 136 – God’s Enduring Faithfulness

“It is God who remembered us in our low estate,

for his steadfast love endures forever.”

~Psalm 136:23 (NRSV).

Most people saved into the kingdom of God did so to be delivered. That’s a safe fact.

But what we don’t often recognise is the “saving” nature of God throughout our entire lives; how even before we were saved God was delivering us, as the Spirit continues to intercede for us today and into the future.

Psalm 136 is testimony of this. It is an antiphonal song of outlasting praise to a God who’s done infinitely more than we could ever properly thank him for.

The Israelites’ Testimony and Ours – Not That Dissimilar

It is only upon due and solemn reflection that we come to understand the depth of God’s grace in and through life—all our lives, period.

We may not have vision of the Exodus or have witnessed the splitting of the Red Sea (verses 10-15) but surely we have our own exoduses to proclaim—those places and situations where God drew us out of our dastardly and perilous slavery. And this process continues as fresh insight anoints us.

Additionally, the initial nine verses speak plainly about what we and they both have and had; the goodness of God’s character and the greatness of his creative acts to marvel at.

God has led us, and continues to lead us, through our respective wildernesses (verse 16). Against ourselves at times we’ve fought, but God was there.

Right through the generations and centuries God has continually paved the way for us so we may live, still now, at this definable moment, at the golden cusp of time. Perhaps the biggest threats wrought against humankind came in the previous century; the dictators of past—Hitler, Stalin, and today, Mugabe and Kim Jong-il—have all been (or will be) defeated, ultimately (verses 17-20). And surely these threats remain... but so do we!

“God remembered us when we were down” as The Message puts it in verse 23. We have a friend in God who will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Hope In the Midst of a Turbulent World

What this psalm reminds us of is fear’s quelled in the presence of reflection over the myriad angles of God’s powerful deliverance. Suddenly as we take a moment out to see how readily we’ve been provided for, our confidence begins to recover; with a little wind behind it, it soars again.

Our hope is buoyed in our memories of the marvellous deeds of past, and be they biblical, familial or personal, they are real regarding God’s never-failing love.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

General Reference: Craig C. Broyles, Psalms – New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers/Paternoster Press, 1999), p. 478.

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