“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
Many of us grew up with Sheri Lewis and Lamb-Chop. Fittingly, the enduring legacy of both of them is THAT song – “The Song that Never Ends.” It just goes on and on and on and on… By the way, you’re welcome – you now have that song stuck in your head.
Psalm 136 is truly the song that never ends. From beginning to end it encourages us to give thanks to our God. How long would it take us to extol the goodness of our God in thanksgiving? Forever!
And yet, how full of gratitude are we? Too often we focus our minds on the things we don’t have rather than the things we do. And even worse, we think that these things will bring us happiness and joy. Talk about a song that never ends. When we find ourselves on this path, each time we reach something we want, there is something more to obtain. Instead, we need to run to the source of all goodness, where we can find true happiness and lasting joy. This first verse shows us three things regarding thanksgiving and joy.
First, the verse reminds us to make a practice of expressing our gratitude. As Paul reminds us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). But it doesn’t stop there. It is not enough simply to be thankful. We are to “give thanks to the Lord.” When our gratitude is directed towards God, we remind ourselves that He is the provider of all our blessings. As such, we refuse to allow other people, things, or circumstances to influence our ability to find joy, and to find it even in the difficult and dark times.
Second, the verse reminds us that God blesses us with good things out of His goodness. “God is good!” While that seems benign at first, it is actually quite significant. You see, God’s goodness is inherent in His being. Goodness flows from God. Indeed, all the goodness in the world is derived from its Maker. Through the first five days of creation, God’s pronouncement was this: “It was good.” And at the end of the sixth day, when all of creation was complete, God says, “It was VERY good.” Even when sin entered the world, and fellowship with God was broken, there remained good in the world, for the One who made it is good.
Third, this verse reminds us that God gives out of His love for us. Thus, the motivation for His giving to us not only relies upon His unchanging goodness, but also His personal affection and love for you and me. This love, hesed in Hebrew, is translated as “steadfast love” or “loving kindness.” It is the covenant love that God has with his people. Because we belong to Him through Christ Jesus, His eternal goodness means He does not withhold good things from us. Again, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Rom. 8:32). He has already given us the greatest gift in Jesus – so we can trust that out of His goodness he will continue to graciously give. When we do this, we can then also believe that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17). And then can confidently confess with Paul, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
May you know God’s goodness today, especially in the face of Jesus Christ, the bright sunshine of His face.