"Why should we give thanks to God?"
Answer = Because of God’s Steadfast Love.
Throughout God’s Word we are reminded of so many wonderful promises, but none more important than what I want you to see today. One of the great things that the Psalmist does here in chapter 136 is that he reminds us 26 different times of God’s steadfast, continual, everlasting love. This love will endure forever, it never comes to an end unlike so many relationships that we see today.
This attribute of God’s love is the essence of who God is. God shows us His faithful love, and His everlasting kindness. How do we know this for sure?
In his commentary, Derek Kinder points this out to us by reminding us of the verses in the text here. He says, “Every verse of this Psalm either echoes, quotes, or is quoted by some other part of Scripture.
The reason why it is important for us to understand this today is because it should cause us to take notice of God’s mercy and love toward us. This should cause us to stop and praise God and it will continue to be something that we do on into eternity. We will praise God and what He has done for us even in heaven.
Psalm 136 is the last of the Hallel psalms. This psalm was associated with the great feasts, especially Passover that Israel would celebrate. So, this song or hymn that Israel would sing would focus on the Lord’s continual involvement in their redemptive history beginning with their exodus out of Egypt, but not limited to all of God’s creation and continuing to God’s plan down through history. This was a call to praise God from beginning to end.
But what does this mean for us today?
What is the takeaway or application for my life?
Let me give you 3 C’s to easily remind us of how we can be thankful.
1. Be thankful for God’s Creation.
1. Be thankful for God’s Creation.
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; 4 to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; 5 to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; 6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; 7 to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; 8 the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; 9 the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;
We are called here to give thanks and offer our praise to God continually. The author of Hebrews talked about this very thing.
15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
A Proper theology of God should always begin with who God is. Do you know today who God is and what He has done? As believers we should know about God’s character and His attributes. This wonderful Psalm points us to God’s steadfast love, but it also points us to several other wonderful attributes of God. As we are reminded of these attributes it should cause us too like the psalmist here to give thanks to God.
A. Who should our praise be directed to or towards? We give thanks to Jehovah the Lord. Verse 2 tells us that He is the God of gods. This is the God whom the angels are worshiping even now. This is the same God who all the mighty rulers have gotten their power from. Verse 3 tells us that we are to give thanks to the Lord of lords. In other words, God is Sovereign and He rules over all and is in control of all and has from the very beginning.
Church we come today to this place, God’s church or God’s house to worship Him and we are to come to give Him thanks because of His goodness and mercy. This means that we give thanks not only because He does good but because He is good, and not only because He is merciful to us but because His mercy and love endureth forever. It is so good to be reminded of this when we feel discouraged or tempted to doubt. Maybe you have been hurt and wounded by a friend or family member and so it is good to know that God’s love for us His children never stops. In continues forever.
B. The Second thing that I want us to take note about here is why we should praise God or give Him thanks??? We praise Him because of His power and wisdom and His great wonders. Verse 4 now begins to help us see that God alone does amazing things that no one else can do or has done. God does wondrous things without anyone’s assistance or advice or help. Let me address these wondrous works of our Almighty God.
-In Verse 5 we see that God made the heavens. God stretched out the heavens, the stars in the sky and all the planets and galaxies and this shows us just how mighty and powerful and wise God is.
-In Verse 6 we see that God spread out the earth which stands above the waters. God made everything that exists here on planet earth. It all comes from Him and He alone has given us this wonderful habitation as we live here on earth. You can go back to Genesis chapter one and two and read more about this.
-In Verses 7-9 we see that God has made the great lights. There are several. The sun which gives light to us during the day and the moon and stars which lights up the night sky. These are called the great lights because they appear to us here on earth. All of these things that the Lord God has created for us to praise Him, are subject to Him, and point to His steadfast love for His children.
These mighty acts of God are the very heart of this hymn. Our God is the creator who brought into existence all that is and Genesis 1 and 2 show us this. The creation gives a powerful witness to God’s power and wisdom. It gives evidence that God’s faithful covenant of love endures forever. From God’s original creation to His new creation that we see in Revelation 21-22. God’s steadfast love sustains all that He has created.
2. Be thankful for God’s Conquests.
2. Be thankful for God’s Conquests.
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, for his steadfast love endures forever; 11 and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures forever; 12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever; 13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two, for his steadfast love endures forever; 14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever; 15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever; 16 to him who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever; 17 to him who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures forever; 18 and killed mighty kings, for his steadfast love endures forever; 19 Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his steadfast love endures forever; 20 and Og, king of Bashan, for his steadfast love endures forever; 21 and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever; 22 a heritage to Israel his servant, for his steadfast love endures forever.
What I want you to see here in this passage is that we have and serve a God who is a God of victory. The author of of Psalm 136 now moves from who God is too describing the great things God has done for Israel. We see this through God’s conquests which point to God’s power and kindness that He has shown to His people.
So, what were the exact conquests of God?
-Let’s begin in verse 10. Of all the plagues that God mentions that happened in Egypt, none is mentioned except the plague when God struck down the firstborn of Egypt and passed over the first born of the Hebrews. God distinguished His people from the Egyptians.
-Because of this terrible event we now come to the redemption and salvation of God’s people and we see in verse 11 that God brings His people out from among the Egyptians. God brings out His people with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. These are metaphors of God’s great strength and power that He did on behalf of His people. God has done the same today for you and I. When God gave us the gift of His Son Christ Jesus, because of what Christ did for us on the cross and won the victory over death and sin we too can be brought out of bondage and redeemed.
-The next conquest of God is shown in detail in verses 13-15. God divided the Red Sea in two. When the Hebrew people came to the Red Sea they knew that clearly there was an obstacle in front of them and a pursuing army of Egyptians behind them. They desperately needed God’s help. By the power that God has in controlling the common course of nature He was able to divide the sea and make a way for Israel to pass through. God not only divided the sea but gave His people the courage to pass through. Not only did God deliver His people miraculously through the sea ,but God also closed up the sea once His people passed through closing the sea upon Israel’s enemies. God is a God of victory!
-God also guided His people as they journeyed through the wilderness. (verse 16) God took care of His people through a series of many miracles for the next 40 years as they went from place to place in the wilderness. In God’s mercy and covenant love for His people He went with them and guided their steps even when the grumbled and were disobedient. God still had a plan for His people.
-The final thing I want you to see is in verses 17-22. God not only struck down the first born of Egypt, but He also struck down great and mighty Kings. What this shows us is that God is in control and He can do whatever He wants. In verses 19 and 20 we see mention of two Kings. Sihon and Og are both mentioned because they were the first two kings that were conquered on the other side of the Jordan River. This shows us today that God destroyed mighty Kings in order to make room for His people in the land that He had promised for them. These were wicked nations and Kings whom ultimately God subdued. All of this shows us the great and mighty conquests of God. That He alone conquered armies and kings and gave His people the nation of Israel a wonderful heritage. God’s mercy to His people endureth forever. This picture of Israel coming into their promised land was also a picture of the heavenly Canaan, which is a picture of God’s mercy that He gave through the Lord Jesus who gives eternal life to those who trust in Him through faith.
3. Be thankful for God’s Care.
3. Be thankful for God’s Care.
23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever; 24 and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever; 25 he who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever. 26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Clearly we see here throughout this whole Psalm how God has taken care of His people. But even more so in these final verses do we see God’s care. Here in verses 23-26 the psalmist reminds us of God’s care by how He remembers and rescues His people. When God’s people were in a difficult position and found that they were low God remembered them and gave them judges and eventually kings. Regardless of what we are going through or what is happening in our world we can be sure that our God has not forgotten about us in our low places. We too can get low or discouraged. We can find that we are often defeated by the enemy and we need to be reminded of our Lord’s care and provision. God’s faithful enduring love continues on in behalf of His people. Let us remember that today.
In verse 25 here we also see that God provides for all of His creatures, for all flesh. This is a wonderful reflection of God’s goodness as Creator because He is continually caring for His creation. God provides and gives food to every creature to both believers and unbelievers as well as animals. God’s faithful enduring love extends to all.
In verse 26 we are reminded of God’s position. We give thanks to the God of heaven. This is the only time God of heaven is mentioned in the Psalms. This phrase is mentioned in Ezra, Nehemiah and Jonah. What it does show us is God’s sovereignty as the Creator and ruler over all things. Nothing is outside of His lordship.
Commentator Abraham Kuyper said it this way, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: MINE!”
Knowing this today church should cause us to be reminded that our proper response is to give thanks to God. He is good, He is the God of gods and Lord of lords. 1 Thessalonians tells us this.
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Eventually God raised up a mighty Savior in that of Christ to deliver us from our sin. God’s everlasting mercy and love is celebrated here in the fact that God has redeemed His church, the bride of Christ.
God has remembered the children of mankind. He remembers us in our low and lost places.
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
God in His mercy and love sent us His Son to redeem us from our sin. In the provision of God’s Son He desires that we turn from our sin and trust in Christ. Because of this church we should give thanks to the God of Heaven. (VERSE 26)
God’s Word proclaims to us that every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights, the God of Heaven. There are so many things today to be thankful for church. Let us find reason to give Praise to God.
(As I Pray today, if you are coming to be baptized go ahead and come forward to get ready for that. Let us pray.)
(Nate comes forward to explain Communion)
(Matt with Baptisms and close in prayer)