Monday, July 19, 2021

Tuesday Prior to Proper 12


Psalm 136:1-9; key verse v26—Psalm 136 is a special psalm, with each one of its 26 verses repeating the sentence, His mercy endures forever. Psalm 118 repeated that affirmation five times. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the phrase has somewhat of a liturgical sense to it, as if the assembled people of Israel said or sung this in response to the direction of the Levites leading singing and worship. Ezra 3:11 indicates that this encouragement was part of a responsive singing among God’s people: And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.”

The sentence is used several other times in the Old Testament, each time in the context of some kind of public praise or declaration. His mercy endures forever is found:

In David’s psalm of praise recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:7 (16:34).

In the assignments of the priests in David’s day (1 Chronicles 16:41).

In Israel’s praise at the dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 5:13, 7:3, 7:6).

In the record of the LORD’s victory over the Ammonites as they praised (2 Chronicles 20:21).

In the future praise by Israel after the destruction suffered in the Babylonian conquest (Jeremiah 33:10-11).

In the dedication of Ezra’s temple (Ezra 3:11).

We picture a great multitude of the people of God gathered in the temple courts. A priest or Levite would call out a reason to give God thanks, and His people would respond with, “For His mercy endures forever.[2]

The phrase “the God of heaven” (v.26) is a Persian title for God found frequently in Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel. The Psalm is a liturgy of praise to the Lord as Creator and as Israel’s Redeemer. Its theme and many of its verses parallel much of Psalm 135. Most likely a Levitical song the leader led the recital which the choir or worshipers responded with the refrain. The Psalm recounts God’s mighty acts as the psalmist devotes six verse to God’s creation acts (Vv.1-3) six to His deliverance of Israel out of Egypt (Vv.10-15) one to the desert journey (v. 16) and six to the conquest (Vv.17-22) The four concluding verses return to the same basic themes in reverse order; God’s action in history on behalf of His people (Vv.23-24), God’s action in the creation order (v.25) and a closing call to praise (v.26).

Collect for Psalm 136; God of everlasting love, through your Word you made all things in heaven and on earth; you have open to us the path from death o life. Listen to the song of the universe, the hymn of resurrection, sung by your Church, and give us your blessing; through Jesus Christ our Lord.[3]  20 July 2021

[1] Luther’s Seal copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[3] Collect for Psalm 136, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church, Vol. IV, The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, © 1996 Delhi, NY

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