“The word that is used for ‘love’ in this refrain is the powerful Hebrew term hesed, which means ‘covenant love’ or the favor God shows to those with whom He has entered into a covenant relationship. Sometimes it is translated ‘steadfast (or ‘enduring’) love.’ It is enduring because God is a God of His word. He is forever good, and He does not break His covenant.
One night in February 358 A.D. the church father Athanasius held an all-night service at his church in Alexandria, Egypt. He had been leading the fight for the eternal sonship and deity of Jesus Christ, knowing that the survival of Christianity depended on it. He had many enemies—for political even more than theological reasons—and they moved the power of the Roman government against him. That night the church was surrounded by soldiers with drawn swords. People were frightened.
With calm presence of mind Athanasius announced the singing of Psalm 136. The vast congregation responded, thundering forth twenty-six times, ‘His love endures forever.’ When the soldiers burst through the doors they were staggered by the singing. Athanasius kept his place until the congregation was dispersed. Then he too disappeared in the darkness and found refuge with his friends.
Many citizens of Alexandria were killed that night, but the people of Athanasius’s congregation never forgot that although man is evil, God is good. He is superlatively good, and ‘His love endures forever.'”
–James Montgomery Boice, Psalms: An Expositional Commentary, Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 3: 1185. Boice is commenting on Psalm 136.
Filed under Athanasius, Book of Psalms, Christian Theology, Christology, Church Fathers, James Montgomery Boice, Jesus Christ, Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel, Worship
Scottish Psalter Version
1 Praise the LORD, my soul! O praise Him!
2 I’ll extol Him all my days.
While I live, to God my Saviour
from my heart I will sing praise.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
mortal men who cannot save.
4 All their plans will come to nothing
when they perish in the grave.
5 Bless’d is the one who truly
looks for help to Jacob’s God;
Bless’d is the one who places
all his hope upon the LORD!
6 He who made the earth and heaven
and the seas, with all their store;
He who keeps His every promise,
who is faithful evermore.
7 He delivers from oppression
and relieves the hungry’s plight.
He releases those in prison;
8 to the blind the LORD gives sight.
Those who are bowed down He raises.
God delights in righteousness.
9 He protects and cares for strangers,
widows and the fatherless.
He frustrates the wicked’s purpose.
10 So the LORD through endless days
Reigns to every generation.
Praise your God, O Zion, praise!
Filed under Bible, Book of Psalms, Christian Theology, Doxology, Jesus Christ, Lord's Day Hymn, Psalms, Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Worship