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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 136



Verse 1

1. A common and favourite form of praise. Psalms 118:1.

For his mercy endureth for ever—A popular refrain, probably given by the congregation. See above in introduction.

Verse 2-3

2, 3.

God of gods… Lord of lords—Quoted from Deuteronomy 10:17. Compare “King of kings and Lord of lords,” Revelation 19:16. It is the highest ascription of absolute supremacy to the true God, the title “God” denoting his absolute power, and “Lord” his sovereign dominion. The plural form, “gods, lords,” (Hebrew, eloheem, adoneem,) whether applied to idols or human rulers, comprehends all that the nations conceived of power and government, in heaven and earth, over which is enthroned God the supreme. As his goodness is declared Psalms 136:1, so here his majesty, following the order of Psalms 135:3; Psalms 135:5-6. In his government they harmonize. The call to give praise thrice, Psalms 136:1-3, is emphatic, but not an occult intimation of the holy Trinity, as some have supposed.

Verse 4

4. Doeth great wonders—See Psalms 72:18; Psalms 135:6. The superior works of God declare him supreme. The phraseology shows that his works are above both comprehension and description.

Verse 6

6. Stretched out the earth above the waters—Another instance wherein external nature is described, not scientifically, but popularly, as it appears to the senses. So the scriptures speak of the sun’s rising and going down; and so philosophers themselves still speak, despite the philosophical absurdity of the expression. Psalms 136:6-9 follow the record of Genesis 1:8.

Verses 10-15

10-15 are a rehearsal of the exodus from Egypt. Compare Psalms 136:10 and Psalms 135:8. See, also, notes on Psalms 78, 105.

Overthrew Pharaoh—Hebrew, Shook out, or tossed “Pharaoh” into the sea. Same word Nehemiah 5:13, and Psalms 109:23

Verse 16

16. See Exodus 13:18; Deuteronomy 8:15. Leading the people in the desert was as great a miracle as the exodus or the overthrow of the kings.

Verses 17-21

17-21. On these verses see notes on Psalms 135:10-12. It is possible, as some have hinted, that Sihon and Og, with their powerful kingdoms, are here specially alluded to, because these rich trans-Jordanic regions were, at this date, lost to the Jewish territory, and, with Samaria and Galilee on the west, were never fully restored until after the captivity. But faith in their restoration the exiles sought to cherish and strengthen by the rehearsal of their ancient conquest by Moses and Joshua.

Verse 23

23. The remainder of the psalm recites their recent history.

Our low estate—An evident allusion to their Babylonian exile; as is also redeemed us from our enemies, Psalms 136:24

Verse 25

25. Food—Naturally this thought comes to them in the pressure and want of their newly restored condition and imperfectly cultivated fields and vineyards.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 136:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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