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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Psalms 136



Verse 26



Psalms 136:26. O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

PRAISE is the employment of heaven: and praise should be the employment of earth also. “Rejoice evermore,” is a special command of God: and to express our joy in praises and thanksgivings is equally commanded: “In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The calls which are given us in the Psalms to the performance of this duty are very numerous: but in none more urgent than in the psalm before us. The particular object here proposed as the subject of our thanksgivings, is the mercy of God, which we are here called upon to contemplate and adore.

Let us then, in compliance with the Psalmist’s exhortation, endeavour,

I. To contemplate it—

Two things in particular respecting it we would propose to your consideration:

1. Its unbounded extent—

[The Psalmist, after speaking of mercy as constituting one of the most glorious perfections of the Deity [Note: ver. 1.], notices the manifestations of it which we behold in all the wonders of creation [Note: ver. 5–9.], and providence [Note: ver. 10–22.], and redemption [Note: ver. 23, 24.]. Whilst we acknowledge the hand of God in these things, we are but too apt to overlook his mercy as displayed in them. But on this we should principally fix our attention, as being most calculated to inflame our love and gratitude towards our heavenly Benefactor. Contemplate then the benefits which you receive from the sun, and moon, and stars, and from the infinitely diversified productions of this terraqueous globe — — — Then behold all the interpositions of God in behalf of his people Israel, and see in them what he is yet daily performing both for the bodies and souls of all who trust in him — — — Then, in the temporal redemptions vouchsafed to Israel under their most desperate and degraded states, behold the redemption of our souls from sin and Satan, death and hell, through the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ — — — Here are subjects of contemplation which might well occupy the mind of the highest archangel, and which therefore deserve our most serious attention.

But we would more particularly recommend to every one to consider the mercies which he himself has received: we would have every one trace them from his earliest infancy to the present moment: and, in reference to those interpositions of the Deity which appear to have been more conspicuous, we would recommend that they be inspected with peculiar care, entering minutely into all the particulars of each, and viewing in each distinct particular the transcendent mercy of God. Let the psalm before us be particularly noticed in this view as a pattern [Note: ver. 9–22.]. When we take only a superficial view of things in the general, we remain unaffected by them: it is by entering into them in the detail, and dwelling on the minutest particulars, that we get our hearts properly affected by them. This therefore we would most earnestly recommend to all who would obtain a due sense of the mercies conferred upon them.

But we must not imagine that the dispensations which have been pleasing to flesh and blood have been our only mercies; for amongst our severest trials will be found, for the most part, our richest mercies. The successive trials of Joseph were of the most painful nature: yet they were all mercies in disguise. If we descend to more trifling incidents, such as Balaam’s ass proving restive, and crushing his foot against a wall, and afterwards falling with him, they, as we know, were the very means by which his life was saved [Note: Numbers 33:22-33.]. Thus the things which grieve and irritate us at the time may be the most merciful dispensations that we could possibly have received: and we ought to receive them as expressions of God’s love [Note: Hebrews 12:6.], sent to promote our good in this world [Note: Romans 8:28.], and to work for us an augmented weight of glory in the world to come [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.]. Even the darkness and temptations with which our souls may be oppressed, must also be numbered among the means which God in his infinite mercy makes use of for the humbling and quickening, the sanctifying and saving, of our souls [Note: Isaiah 27:8-9 and Hosea 5:15 and Psalms 25:10.] — — —]

2. Its everlasting duration—

[See how the mercy of God wrought in all the days of old, even from the foundation of the world! Precisely in the same manner it still operates, and shall ever continue to operate, towards all who fear his name [Note: Psalms 103:17.] — — — God will not withdraw it from those who are united unto Christ by faith [Note: Psalms 89:28-36.] — — — He may hide his face from them for a season; but with everlasting mercies will he gather them [Note: Isaiah 54:7-10.] — — — The repetition of this truth twenty-six times in as many verses is a very sufficient pledge to us that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [Note: Romans 11:29.],” and that “whom he loveth, he loveth to the end [Note: John 13:1.].”]

Having contemplated, though so imperfectly, the mercy of our God, we now call upon you,

II. To adore it—

A tribute of praise and thanksgiving for such mercy is the least that can be demanded of us. And well may it be demanded; for,

1. It is due from us—

[Can we conceive, that, after all the mercies vouchsafed unto us, no return is required? Are we to be as stupid and insensible as beasts? Is this a state that becomes persons who have been redeemed by the blood of God’s only dear Son? — — —

Perhaps it will be said by some, I have not yet obtained an interest in Christ: how then can I render thanks for what I have never received? To this we reply, Have you no temporal mercies for which to give thanks? and, if you are not yet partakers of spiritual mercies, have you no reason to thank God for the offer of them, and for not having been yet visited with the judgments which you have so richly merited? Think what is the state of millions who have not committed either more or greater sins than you; and what might at this moment have been your state also, if God in his infinite mercy had not spared you; and given you space for repentance? Do but think of this, and you will want no further incentive to gratitude and thanksgiving. But think also of the offers of salvation now made to you, a salvation free, and full, and everlasting: O! what thanks does this call for at your hands! What if one such offer were now made to those who are shut up under chains of everlasting darkness and despair; would no thanks be expressed by them? I call upon you then to give thanks unto the God of heaven, who yet waiteth to be gracious unto you, and “whose long-suffering you should account to be salvation.”]

2. It is pleasing and acceptable to God—

[The acknowledgment so often repeated in the psalm before us has received more striking tokens of God’s approbation than any other that was ever uttered by mortal man: David, knowing how acceptable it would be to God, appointed officers for the express purpose of repeating it in the service of the tabernacle [Note: 1 Chronicles 16:41.]. And, when Solomon had brought the ark of God into the sanctuary that he had prepared for it, and the priests were singing the praises of God in the very words of our text, at that moment, I say, did God descend into the sanctuary, so that the priests could no longer stand to minister there by reason of the overwhelming presence of the Divine glory [Note: 2 Chronicles 5:13.]. Another and no less remarkable testimony of God’s approbation was that which was given to Jehoshaphat’s use of these words at the time that he was going forth against three confederate armies: at the very instant that the priests began to utter this acknowledgment, God set the three confederate armies against each other, and stirred them up to kill one another; till they were utterly destroyed, without any conflict on the part of Israel [Note: 2 Chronicles 20:21-23.]. What greater proof can we have of the delight which God feels in the exercise of mercy, and in commending it to the admiration of the whole universe? Begin then this song: continue this song throughout the day: let every fresh occurrence call forth freeh acknowledgments of the mercy of your God: and rest assured, that the more you abound in these expressions of your gratitude, the richer displays you shall have of the Divine glory, and the more entire victory over all your spiritual enemies.]


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 136:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

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