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PSALM CXXXVI.

1 Give thanks to Jehovah, for He is good,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

2 Give thanks to the God of gods,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever,

3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

4 To Him who alone does great wonders,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

5 To Him who made the heavens by understanding,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

6 To Him who spread the earth above the waters,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

7 To Him who made great lights,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

8 The sun to rule by day,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

9 The moon and stars to rule by night,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

10 To Him who smote the Egyptians in their first-born,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

11 And brought forth Israel from their midst,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

12 With mighty strong hand and outstretched arm,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

13 To Him that cut the Red Sea into parts,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

14 And made Israel pass through the midst of it,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

15 And shook out Pharaoh and his host into the Red Sea,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

16 To Him who led His people in the wilderness,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

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17 To Him who smote great kings,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

18 And slew mighty kings,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

20 And Og, king of Bashan,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

21 And gave their land for an inheritance,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

22 An inheritance to Israel His servant,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

23 Who in our low estate remembered us,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever;

24 And tore us from the grasp of our adversaries,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

25 Who gives bread to all flesh,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,

For His loving-kindness endures for ever.

This psalm is evidently intended for liturgic use. It contains reminiscences of many parts of Scripture, and is especially based on the previous psalm, which it follows closely in vv. 10-18, and quotes directly in vv. 19-22. Delitzsch points out that if these quoted verses are omitted, the psalm falls into triplets. It would then also contain twenty-two verses, corresponding to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The general trend of thought is like that of Psalm cxxxv.; but the addition in each verse of the refrain gives a noble swing and force to this exulting song.

The first triplet is a general invocation to praise, coloured by the phraseology of Deuteronomy. Vv. 2a and 3a quote Deut. x. 17. The second and third triplets (vv. 4-9) celebrate Jehovah's creative power. "Doeth great wonders" (ver. 4) is from Psalm lxxii. 18.368 The thought of the Divine Wisdom as the creative agent occurs in Psalm civ. 24, and attains noble expression in Prov. iii. In ver. 6 the word rendered spread is from the same root as that rendered "firmament" in Genesis. The office of the heavenly bodies to rule day and night is taken from Gen. i. But the psalm looks at the story of Creation from an original point of view, when it rolls out in chorus, after each stage of that work, that its motive lay in the eternal loving-kindness of Jehovah. Creation is an act of Divine love. That is the deepest truth concerning all things visible. They are the witnesses, as they are the result, of loving-kindness which endures for ever.

Vv. 10-22 pass from world-wide manifestations of that creative loving-kindness to those specially affecting Israel. If vv. 19-22 are left out of notice, there are three triplets in which the Exodus, desert life, and conquest of Canaan are the themes,—the first (vv. 10-12) recounting the departure; the second (vv. 13-15) the passage of the Red Sea; the third (vv. 16-18) the guidance during the forty years and the victories over enemies. The whole is largely taken from the preceding psalm, and has also numerous allusions to other parts of Scripture. Ver. 12a is found in Deut. iv. 34, etc. The word for dividing the Red Sea is peculiar. It means to hew in pieces or in two, and is used for cutting in halves the child in Solomon's judgment (1 Kings iii. 25); while the word "parts" is a noun from the same root, and is found in Gen. xv. 17, to describe the two portions into which Abraham clave the carcasses. Thus, as with a sword, Jehovah hewed the sea in two, and His people passed between the parts, as between the halves of the covenant sacrifice. In ver. 15 the word describing Pharaoh's destruction369 is taken from Exod. xiv. 27, and vividly describes it as a "shaking out," as one would vermin or filth from a robe.

In the last triplet (vv. 23-25) the singer comes to the Israel of the present. It, too, had experienced Jehovah's remembrance in its time of need, and felt the merciful grasp of His hand plucking it, with loving violence, from the claws of the lion. The word for "low estate" and that for "tore us from the grasp" are only found besides in late writings—the former in Eccles. x. 6, and the latter in Lam. v. 8.

But the song will not close with reference only to Israel's blessings. "He gives bread to all flesh." The loving-kindness which flashes forth even in destructive acts, and is manifested especially in bringing Israel back from exile, stretches as wide in its beneficence as it did in its first creative acts, and sustains all flesh which it has made. Therefore the final call to praise, which rounds off the psalm by echoing its beginning, does not name Him by the Name which implied Israel's special relation, but by that by which other peoples could and did address Him, "the God of heaven," from whom all good comes down on all the earth.

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