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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today’s Reading | Psalm 136                 

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

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

who struck Egypt through their firstborn,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
who divided the Red Sea in two,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
who led his people through the wilderness,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
who struck down great kings,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed famous kings,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
and gave their land as a heritage,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
a heritage to his servant Israel,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.

It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
who gives food to all flesh,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of heaven,
   for his steadfast love endures forever. (NRSV)

Reflection
Psalm 136 is one of a series of praise psalms that are called “The Great Hillel” and are recited or sung during festival occasions, such as Passover in the Jewish tradition and perhaps by the early Christians celebrating Pentecost. Clearly the principle theme of this praise hymn is that God’s love is immutable and unchanging. The psalmist hammers this point home as the congregation recounts the history of God’s steadfast love to the people of Israel. My father was wont to say, “People hear 20 percent of what you say, so say everything important five times.” That certainly works in my case.

Another very interesting thing happens when I dwell on this refrain. I begin to recount times in my life when it has been clear that God’s love for me and those I love has been all around us. It is simply impossible for me to focus on what is going wrong when I am reliving what has gone so wonderfully right.

O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good,
for God’s steadfast love endures forever.

who alone created me and all that exists around me,
for God’s steadfast love endures forever.

who held me in his hand through divorce,
for God’s steadfast love endures forever.

who led me to my wife of almost forty-five years,
for God’s steadfast love endures forever.

who alone is the great physician,
for God’s steadfast love endures forever.

who held us in his hand past the verge of death,
for God’s steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the God of heaven,
for God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Prayer
Dear Lord, I thank you and bless your name, for indeed your steadfast love endures forever. Amen.

Written by Blake Anderson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church


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