Appropriately, we praise God for what He has done. But we should not forget to praise Him for what He promises us He will do. We can rejoice that He will fulfill His purposes in us and that His righteous justice will be meted out to all one day.
The Steadfast Love of God Will Last Forever
As we continue sailing along on this Wisdom Journey, we come now to Psalm 135. The theme from this point on in Psalms will be praising God for His steadfast love.
F. B. Meyer wrote more than 100 years ago that here in Psalm 135, the psalmist seems to pick some beautiful flowers from other psalms and gather them into one bouquet. And you can almost smell the fragrance of praise in this bouquet. Verse 1 says, “Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord, give praise, O servants of the Lord.”
Now you and I can sometimes forget what the Lord has done for us and just give a blank stare when somebody asks, “What can you praise God for today?” Well, the psalmist here is going to fill in the blank for us.
First, he reminds Israel of their escape from Egypt years earlier and the good hand of God upon them. And that is a good reminder today. The devil tries to choke off your praise to God by getting you to focus on what happened yesterday or what is happening today. And often it doesn’t seem like God is doing anything good for you. Well, take a longer look back. Go back a year or ten years, and remember His work in your life.
Now here in verse 14, the psalmist praises God that He “will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.” So, if you are going to praise the Lord, you are going to have to take a longer look back into the past, and then you need to take a longer view of the future. God will vindicate His people. God might not make everything seem right today or tomorrow, but one day all will be made right.
Right now, you might be mistreated—treated unfairly, unjustly, unkindly. Somebody is out there ruining your reputation with gossip or lies. Well, you might want to act like Nehemiah, who wrote a letter saying, “None of this gossip is true,” and then left it at that. But get on your knees, like he did, and pray, “O God, strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9).
Don’t get on the roller coaster of trying to straighten out every piece of gossip. Let the Lord vindicate you. Let me ask you something: Are you willing to leave your reputation in the hands of God? Do you think He is capable of taking care of it?If you do, you can rest in this promise: “The Lord will vindicate his people.”
Now this next psalm, Psalm 136, repeats twenty-six times that God’s “steadfast love endures forever.” Nearly half this psalm is the repetition of this promise that God’s steadfast love will last forever.
This psalm is also a responsive song. Someone sings a truth about God, and other people respond. So, here in verse 1, the soloist sings, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,” and the congregation responds, “For his steadfast love endures forever.”
Now when you read this psalm, you will notice that everything God does for His people is motivated by His steadfast love. The term refers more specifically to His covenant commitment to keep His promises to His people.
And by the way, if you are one of God’s children by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, you can be sure God is passionate about keeping His promises to you as well.
The psalmist starts bragging here, so to speak, about the power of the creator God. He isn’t like the false gods out there, who can’t see, or speak, or do anything at all. God alone is alive and powerful. Verse 4 tells us that He “alone does great wonders.”
Then he rattles off some of those wonders here: God alone made the universe (verse 5); God spread out the continents of the earth (verse 6); God created the sun and put the moon in its place (verse 7).
We sometimes talk about somebody being very special by using the expression, “He hung the moon.” Well, God actually hung the moon.
So far, scientists have spent more than twenty billion dollars trying to figure out how the moon evolved. The Bible tells us in Genesis 1 that the moon was created by God on Day 4. God spoke it into existence.
And essentially, He had to do that in order to sustain the life He would create on Planet Earth. In fact, without the moon, the earth would wobble on its axis, seasons would disappear, and we would be locked into either a deep freeze or a deep fry. Without the moon’s gravitational pull, which creates the tidal systems and drives the oceans’ currents around the world, the earth’s seas would become a stagnating cesspool. The moon is something we take for granted and don’t think all that much about, but it’s just one more piece of evidence of God’s powerful and loving design.
Psalm 137 reminds the Israelites of a time when praising God was the last thing on their minds. In fact, it seemed like the gods of other nations were more powerful.
The psalmist looks back to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity, when the defeated people put away their harps and stopped singing. He begins here, “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept . . . On the willows there we hung up our lyres” (verses 1-2). A lyre was a little handheld harp. In verse 4 the author asks, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”
With that, the psalmist asks the Lord to deliver justice to his people’s enemies, specifically, the Edomites and the Babylonians. These two wicked nations had plundered and persecuted the Jewish people. And now it is time for justice to be served for these nations.
The prayer here is based on Jeremiah 49–51, which declares the Lord’s judgment on these two nations. The psalmist writes here:
Blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! (verses 8-9)
This was the practice of these enemy armies (see 2 Kings 8:12; Hosea 10:14; Nahum 3:10). No doubt this is what the Babylonians had done when they destroyed Jerusalem.
Now this psalmist is not urging the Israelites to do the same thing to their enemies. What he is praying for here is not revenge but the justice of God. I believe he is also asking God to keep the Babylonians from raising up another generation who will persecute the Jewish people.
Now this next psalm, Psalm 138, begins a series of eight psalms written by David. More than likely, they were placed here to encourage the Jewish exiles returning to Judah with the assurance that God will keep His promises to David and the nation of Israel.
David repeats God’s promise to him here in verse 8: “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” Let those words just sink in, beloved. This isn’t just God’s promise to David; this is His promise to you. God will fulfill His purposes for you. Why? Verse 8 answers, “Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.”
The apostle Paul essentially restates this promise a thousand years after David wrote this psalm, writing, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). God is not going to stop working in your life, until you see Jesus one day.
So, let’s sing our praise to God today; and let’s sing loud enough for the lost world around us to hear this message: The steadfast love of God will last forever.