Summer in the Psalms

May 31 - June 4


A Memorial Day Reminder: Give Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,  for His steadfast love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1 (ESV)

The soldier’s first article of faith is summed up nowhere more eloquently than in an 1865 letter from William Tecumseh Sherman to U.S. Grant: “I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come–if alive.” This is the unwritten, unspoken but unbreakable contract of the battlefield: You will leave no one, dead or alive, in the hands of the enemy. (U.S. News and World Report)

Every year on memorial day we remember and honor those who gave their lives serving in our Armed Forces. We have vowed to never forget their sacrifice on our behalf. Those soldiers demonstrated the ultimate concern for others when they gave their all.

In Psalm 136, the psalmist is remembering and expressing His gratitude for God. It is a unique psalm in that the same refrain of verse 1 is repeated 26 times. The Hebrew word for “give thanks” means to confess or acknowledge. The psalmist provides an entire chapter explaining why God is worthy to be thanked. Our praise and our worship is to be rooted in what we know and believe and confess about God.


Jesus taught in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Take some time and read all of Psalm 136. What are some of the truths about God described in this passage?


Praise God for the truths you listed about Him based on your reading of Psalm 136.


Remember He is Lord

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,  for His steadfast love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1 (ESV)

Gabriel Hurles was enjoying his sixth birthday party. He was so focused on eating his birthday cake, that he hardly noticed the giant package in the corner of the room. When another child pointed out the large gift, Gabriel ran over and began to tear off the wrapping. It wasn’t a bicycle or any of the other items a six-year-old would want. It was his dad, Army Specialist Casey Hurles, home on leave from the war in Iraq. Gabriel and his father had been apart for seven months, so when Casey learned his leave would coincide with his son’s birthday, he hatched a plan to offer one whale of a surprise. The greatest gift anyone ever gives is themself.

God’s greatest gift to us is Himself. In Psalm 136, the psalmist is grateful to have the one true Lord God in his life. There are three titles for God that mark His identity in Psalm 136:1-3. The word “LORD” in verse 1 is the word Jehovah, meaning the self-existent and eternal One. The word “God” in verse 2 is the word elohiym, meaning He is the one true God who is a ruler and a judge, and who also is known by His works or special possessions. Then the word “Lord” in verse 3 is the word Adonai meaning that He is lord and master, the king, the Lord of lords. (Brown Driver & Briggs)


Because God is Lord of all, we can be grateful He is in sovereign control working all things together for His own glory and the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. What difference does it make in your everyday life knowing that God is Lord of all?


Praise God for His sovereign rule and plan over eternity. Thank God for being in control which means your life is never out of control.


Remember His Goodness

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1 (ESV)

Somebody asked Winston Churchill, “What most prepared you to lead Great Britain through World War II?” For a period of time, Great Britain was under fierce attack from Nazi Germany as it strived for world domination. This was Churchill’s response: “It was the time I repeated a class in grade school.” The questioner said, “You mean you flunked a grade?” Churchill said, “I never flunked in my life. I was given a second opportunity to get it right.”

Churchill saw even his challenges as good opportunities. The psalmist never doubted God’s goodness even in the face of adversity. In his classic work, The Existence and Attributes of God , Stephen Charnock points out:

God is only originally good, good of himself. All created goodness is a rivulet from this fountain, but Divine goodness has no spring…. God only is infinitely good…. God is only perfectly good, because only infinitely good…. The goodness of God is the measure and rule of goodness in everything else. God only is immutably good…. There is not such a perpetual light in the sun as there is a fulness of goodness in God.


Basically, we wouldn’t even know what good is if it were not for God being the definition of good. We need to be reminded often of God’s goodness because the enemy of our souls repeatedly tries to get us to doubt it, especially in times of trials. When do you remember sensing God’s goodness as you were facing a trial? When has Satan tried to get you to doubt God’s goodness?


Glorify God for His goodness. Ask Him to grow your confidence in His good character and nature even in the midst of adversity.


Remember His Love

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1 (ESV)

Stu Weber, in his book Tender Warrior, includes an article written by a woman. She writes One day the doorbell rang and there stood my beloved brother. It was a delightful surprise. His work as an executive of an international petroleum company keeps him out of the country most of the time, so his visits are rare, unexpected, and usually really brief.

It seemed as if he’d just arrived when after an hour, he got up to say goodbye. I felt tears sliding down my cheeks. He asked why I was crying. Hesitating, I said, “Because I simply don’t want you to go.” He gave me a surprised look. He went to the phone and left a message for the pilot of his company’s plane. We had a wonderful forty-eight hours together. But I suffered a nagging feeling that my selfishness had caused him great inconvenience because I had told him I needed him.

Sometime later my brother received an important award for his contributions to the oil industry. A reporter asked him at the time, “Is this the greatest honor that you’ve received?” “No,” he said, “my sister gave me my greatest honor the day she cried because she didn’t want me to leave. That’s the only time in my life anyone ever cried because they didn’t want me to leave. It was then that I discovered the most precious gift one human being can ever bestow on another is to let him know he is really needed.”

One of the things the psalmist was most grateful for about God was His “enduring love.” The word enduring love is also translated as mercy, kindness, or faithfulness. The word really captures all of those words in one. It’s a word that not only speaks of the heart of God but the actions of God.


God’s plan is that love will have tangible expressions. And God has modeled that love toward us. Who has shown you love in a tangible way lately? Who have you shown love in a tangible way lately? Read Romans 8 to dig deeper into the depth of God’s love for you.


Take some time praising God for the tangible love you have experienced lately.


Remember God Made it All

to Him who alone does great wonders, for His steadfast love endures forever; to Him who by understanding made the heavens, for His steadfast love endures forever; to Him who spread out the earth above the waters, for His steadfast love endures forever; – Psalm 136:4-9 (ESV)

The creation is a testimony to the existence of God. A young man told his mother one day he was an atheist and that he didn’t believe in God anymore. She quietly responded, “If there is no God, who made the world? He replied, “Nobody made it, it just happened.” A few days later he came home from school and passed through the kitchen. A sandwich was sitting on the counter. He asked, “Who made the sandwich?” His mother said, “Nobody made it, it just happened.” That young man was wrong. Just as there could be no sandwich without a sandwich maker, there can be no creation without a Creator.

The psalmist looked into space and around the world and was moved by the love and mercy of God he saw in Creation. He saw all of creation as part of God’s loving-kindness toward humanity. As we look into the cosmic telescope we see the vast universe and “all its wonders.” Then as we come closer in our focus we see our own galaxy and the various levels of the atmosphere that surround this planet, and all of this points to His “steadfast love.”


It’s important for us to occasionally reflect on Creation and be moved to worship the Creator. What part of Creation most reminds you of God’s loving-kindness? What part of God’s creation gives you the largest sense of awe and wonder?


Romans 1:24-25 reminds us, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”


Ask God to show you any area where you are worshiping Creation more than the Creator. Praise God for your favorite parts of His Creation.