James Nisbet Commentary - Psalms 136:1 - 136:1

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James Nisbet Commentary - Psalms 136:1 - 136:1

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘O give thanks unto the Lord.’


I. There is a remarkable similarity between this psalm and the preceding one; but here a noble refrain is inserted after each clause. And what a wonderful conception this gives of the way in which a holy soul may view all things that are and have been. Here is a standpoint of vision from which to view God’s dealings with mankind—that all things are threaded by mercy and loving-kindness, which are in all, and through all, and over all.

II. You have seen Egypt smitten in its first-born: there is mercy there.—You have heard the last cry of Pharaoh’s drowning host, but there is mercy there. You have beheld the overthrow of Sihon and Og, but there is mercy there. You may not be able to see the mercy, because you behold all things under creatural limitations, and amid so much prejudice and error; but could you understand the alleviations and compensations, the general result of God’s dealings with the great world of men, the entire scope and plan of Divine Providence, you would be able to say—

His every act pure goodness is;

His path unsullied light.

III. My soul! I expect that thou hast had thine Ogs and Sihons, thy Pharaohs and Amalekites.—Thou, too, hast been in Egypt, and traversed the weary desert. But God’s mercy is over it all. There is mercy in thy privations and oppressions. Dare to affirm it. Dare to look into the face of God and say, ‘How much Thou lovest me, that Thou shouldst take so much pains with me! My God, I trust the perfect love, the circle of whose extent I cannot compass, but the centre of which is in Thy loving heart.’ Dare to believe that no package is delivered at thy door by God’s Providence which has not been packed by His love.


‘It is startling and terrible to think of the aspect which God’s mercy presents to those that hate Him. That which is a blessing and help to His people is destruction to His foes, to Pharaoh and Og and Sihon. To the froward He shows Himself froward. The cloud which is light to Israel is black as pitch to Egypt. The sun which softens wax hardens clay. Oh, kiss the Son, lest He be angry!

The history of Israel was difficult in its unfolding, but as the Psalmist reviewed it from the standpoint of the years, he saw the golden thread of mercy woven with every incident. Thus, when we review our life from our Pisgah of vision, we shall see mercy where now we find hardship and trial—many incidents, but one unbroken chain of loving-kindness and tender mercy.’