February 22, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
My grandmother had a collection of sayings that she repeated again and again and again. For example, I heard her say, “Make somebody happy and you’ll be happy too” hundreds of times. Or, when I became old enough to drive, I’d stop by her house to stock up on cookies. Every time I left, she’d call out, “Drive safely!” We made more than a thousand visits to my grandparents’ house—they lived right down the street from where I grew up—and every time my grandmother would say to me: “We love you!” I knew it already, without a doubt. But it felt good to hear it again, anyway.
Some things deserve to be repeated: important things, wise things, things that shape our minds, hearts, and actions. Psalm 136 exemplifies worthwhile repetition. Verses 1, 2, 3, and 26 begin with the imperative, “Give thanks.” Now that’s something we need to hear more than once.
But, more strikingly, all 26 verses of Psalm 136 end with the proclamation, “His love endures forever.” I’d suggest that we need to hear this again and again. I know I do. I expect you do too.
The word translated here as “love” is chesed in Hebrew. This word, one of the most important in the Scriptures, is translated in a variety of ways in English versions of the Bible. The KJV uses “mercy.” The ESV prefers “steadfast love.” The NIV employs “love.” God’s chesed is his faithful goodness to us, his love that never quits, his mercy when we are desperate. Many biblical scholars associate God’s chesed with his covenant relationship with Israel. His love is faithful in that the Lord honors his covenant promises.
Through constant repetition of “His love endures forever,” Psalm 136 takes this truth and works it into our hearts. When life is hard and we’re not sure God is there for us, we hear echoes of Psalm 136: “His love endures forever.” When we take on new challenges that stretch us, we are strengthened by the refrain of this psalm: “His love endures forever.” When we delight in the good gifts of life, we realize that they are just that—gifts from our faithful, loving God. Thus our hearts resonate with the words of Psalm 136 that bear repeating: “His love endures forever. His love endures forever.”
Something to Think About:
Can you remember sentences that were repeated in your family of origin by your parents or grandparents? What impact have these sentences had upon you?
How might you live differently today if you truly believed that you were fully and forever loved by God, and that his love for you endures forever?
Something to Do:
Read Psalm 136 out loud, letting the repetition of “His love endures forever” sink into your heart. If you’re in a small group, consider reading this psalm aloud together. Reflect on how the repetition of “His love endures forever” makes a difference for you.
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.
Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.
Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.
Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise. Amen.
“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” by Charles Wesley, 1747. Public domain.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Right Use of Power (Psalm 136)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.