I was listening to RefNet.fm (Ligonier’s 24-hour Christian station) and Psalm 136 was read aloud. The recurring phrase “for His steadfast love endures forever” seeped into my soul and covered it like a balm. The whole Psalm was refreshing in its praise of God. I pray you have an opportunity to find an audio of the Psalm and hear it. Though it was not sung as it originally was, spoken aloud it had a ring of love and truth that was not otherwise impactful to me as I’d read it myself in the past. I dug deeper and looked into the origin of the Psalm and found these study notes. I pray you are refreshed and encouraged as you read them sometime yourself.
Psalm 135-136, from John MacArthur Study Bible Notes.
These two Psalms complete the “Great Hallal.” The composer and occasion of Ps. 135 are unknown but likely postexhilic. Psalm 135:15-20 is strikingly similar to 115:4-11.
I. Call to Praise (135:1-2)
II. Causes for Praise (135:3-18)
- God’s Character (135:3)
- God’s Choice of Jacob (135:4)
- God’s Sovereignty in Creation (135:5-7)
- God’s Deliverance of Israel (135:8-12)
- God’s Unique Nature (135:13-18)
III. Concluding praise (135:19-21)
This Psalm, extremely similar to Psalm 135, closes the “Great Hallal*.” Unique to all the Psalms, Ps. 136 uses the antiphonal* refrain “for His steadfast love endures forever” after each stanza, perhaps spoken by the people in responsive worship. Author and occasion remains unknown.
I. Call to Praise (136:1-3)
II. Causes for Praise (136:4-22).
- God’s Creation (136: 4-9)
- God’s Deliverance (136: 10-15)
- God’s Care and Gift (136:16-22)
III. Concluding Praise (136:23-26).
*antiphonal = of music, especially church music, or a section of a church liturgy) sung, recited, or played alternately by two groups.
*Hallal = praise, hallelujah