Psalm 136

DSC03632This psalm could be titled His Love Endures Forever.  But the question that comes up very  frequently in conversations is how can a God that loves us so much let so much evil exist in his world.   As I meditate on this question I recall the opening words from the Lord’s prayer found in Matthew chapter six.  These words “Our Father who is in heaven holy be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” helps me realize that God will in the kingdom in heaven is complete; but his will on the kingdom which is on earth must not be complete.  Trying to comprehend the question of how can a God that loves us so much let so much evil exist in his world is difficult to man because the first step in this process is to grasp an understanding of the true nature and attributes of God.  This process of grasping the nature and attributes is something that is really impossible for man who is just another creation of God.

In the first three verses the psalmist describes God as good, the God of gods, and the Lord of lords.  What command are we given in this psalm?  Give thanks.  The reason for our thanks is simply “His love endures forever”.  The next six verses give us the reasons why His love endures forever by describing His creative acts. .  Verse four states that He alone does great wonders and verse five adds the phase, who by his understanding made the heavens set the stage that He is beyond our understanding.  Men prides himself on his great creations.  This pride can be seen in the simple sand castle built by a young child to great cities as well as the social structures that are built through the combined forces of a nation.   However the concept of building something out of nothing is beyond my understanding as well as the understanding of all mankind.  How can I or mankind as a whole grasp the nature of the creator when we can not even grasp an understand of how the heavens, the earth, and everything on the earth was created?

Verse ten through twenty-five gives us illustrations of how God intervenes in the history of man.  These illustrations deal mainly with Israel.  Why Israel?  Because of God’s promises to Adam and then to Abraham, and then to David.  However, in verse twenty five the psalmist also God’s involvement on earth to include the giving food every creature.  Paul summaries God’s dealing with man in his sermon on Mar’s Hill to the Athenians in Acts chapter 17.

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by  raising Him from the dead.”

In studying Paul’s ministry it is interesting that here at Athens the great city of learning that the impact of the gospel had very little effect on the people that heard this message.   Paul ended his sermon with a warning that God is now dealing to all people to repent because he has fixed a day in which he will judge the world.

The psalmist closes this psalm in verse twenty six with the phase “give thanks to the God of Heaven”.  As I consider the question of “how can a God that loves us so much let so much evil exist in his world?” I must consider Paul’s warning to the Athenians that God is now dealing to all people to repent because he has fixed a day in which he will judge the world.  After considering this psalm and Paul’s sermon on Mar’s Hill a more pressing question needs to be asked.  Why does man reject such a great salvation (the gospel or good news) that is presented to him in God’s Word?  Those who do give thanks to the God of heaven are those who have not rejected this great salvation and truly realize that His love endures forever.