Give thanks to God—he is good and his love never quits. Say, “Save us, Savior God, round us up and get us out of these godless places, So we can give thanks to your holy Name, and bask in your life of praise.” Blessed be God, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God!”
First Chronicles 16: 34-36
This simple song of praise sounds like one of the Psalms, yet it is not from the Psalms. It is from the first of the two Books of Chronicles in the Old Testament. Nonetheless, phrases of this Psalm-like song found themselves into some of our Psalms.
David had composed these verses in First Chronicles when he established regular worship in Jerusalem. After the Israelites left Egypt, the “godless place,” they had wandered in the wilderness with the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments. Here, David sets up their “mobile church”, also known as the tabernacle, for regular worship services. The setup was almost like a revival tent. Whenever they arrived in a place, they would set it up, worship in it while they were there, and then take it with them to their next stop. The author of First Chronicles commends David for establishing regular worship services, in spite of the fact that the temple was not yet built (his son Solomon would get to do that honor).
Given this background, the lyrics of the song take on added meaning. “God is good, and his love never quits.” This line speaks of God’s persistence in working to get His people out of Egypt, where they had been held as slaves.
The next line also speaks about what an awful place Egypt had become for the Israelites, prior to their departure. “Save us, Savior God, round us up and get us out of these godless places, so we can give thanks to your holy Name.” Prominent in these verses is the request for God to save those calling out to Him, and to place them somewhere to worship freely, with hindrance.
Yet even during the Exodus time of tribulation and despair, the people of Israel still worshiped. It was not in the comfort of a church pew, with a permanent roof over them, along with heating and air conditioning. The elements were extreme, and the word “comfort” was probably not even given a thought.
Yet David’s sentiment holds true for us. When we feel distraught, hopeless or helpless, we are not at the end of our rope. Christ is there holding on to it with us. He wants us to know that He is with us, even when life feels like it is crumbling down around us. Even when it is difficult or dangerous, we can still worship with God’s people. The Lord is still present.
The Israelites knew God’s promise, and with that sacred promise they moved forward for 40 years. King David knew this when he established regular worship of the Lord in Jerusalem. David’s worship services remind us all of our ultimate destination, where God’s praises are lifted up constantly by those who are faithful to the Lord.
While written a long time ago in a very specific time and place, David’s words have resonated with people down through the ages. The sentiment in verse 34 is a timeless one: Give thanks to God—he is good and his love never quits.
In fact, this line inspired every verse of Psalm 136. This Psalm is rather unique because every other line of the Psalm is the same: “His love endures forever.” In a way, this is a very clever way of reinforcing an important message. God’s love endures forever… illustrated by the fact that this line about God’s love is repeated over, and over, and over, and over again… seemingly forever!
Not only is this literary device is effective, but the core belief behind it is true. God’s love does endure forever! We and many other Christians down through the ages have experienced this truth in our own lives. It is the basis of many hymns and songs or praise throughout the history of the church. Worship leader and composer Chris Tomlin wrote a song called “Forever”. Just like Psalm 136, practically every other line in the song is the same: “His Love endures forever.”
Here is a version of that song, as sung by musician Michael W. Smith, in case you want to listen to it. Feel free to sing along:
His Love Endures Forever - Micheal W Smith (Lyrics) This is a Lyrics Video, I don't own the rights to the song in anyway just posting a cool video I built. www.youtube.com
May each of us know, celebrate, and sing about the wonderful reassuring truth that God’s love DOES endure FOREVER! Hallelujah! and Amen.
Thank you Lord for Your faithfulness to us, wherever we are. Thank you for caring for our needs, and not necessarily our wants. Help us to understand our need to praise You. We sing praises not just for You, but also because we understand that praising You does lifts up our soul. We pray for safety from the arrows of the world, and we pray for everlasting peace. We pray this prayer in Your Holy name. Amen