Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 136

Verse 1

Psalms 136:1. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good — “We are called upon to praise Jehovah, first for his own essential attributes; then for the exertion of those attributes in his works. The attributes here mentioned are those of goodness and power; the one renders him willing, and the other able, to save: and what can we desire more, but that he should continue to be so! Of this likewise we are assured, by contemplating the unchangeableness of his nature. His disposition altereth not, and his kingdom none can take from him; his mercy endureth for ever.” — Horne.

Verse 2-3

Psalms 136:2-3. O give thanks unto the God of gods — Who is infinitely superior to all that are called gods, whether angels, or princes, or idols: the God whom angels adore, from whom magistrates derive their power, and by whom all pretended deities are and shall be conquered; unto the Lord of lords — The Sovereign of all sovereigns; or. as the word אדני, adoni, imports, the supporter of all supports, the stay, basis, or foundation of all creatures.

Verse 4

Psalms 136:4. Who alone doeth great wonders — He, and none else; or he, without the help of any other person, or thing: whereas no other being can do any thing alone, or without his help. “All the works of God are wonderful, and speak him alone to have been their author. The established course of the world is, in reality, no less admirable than are those extraordinary interpositions of omnipotence whereby it hath been sometimes interrupted and suspended; though the latter, on account of their novelty, are apt to affect us more than the former does, which is ever before our eyes, and therefore less regarded by us.”

Verse 5-6

Psalms 136:5-6. To him that by wisdom — Namely, by eminent and admirable wisdom, far exceeding the capacity of all creatures, whether human or angelical; made the heavens, that stretched out the earth — “The heavens above, and the earth beneath, declare the wisdom of their great Maker, and proclaim aloud, to an intelligent ear, the divinity of the hand that formed them. The heavens display the love of God to man; the earth teaches the duty of man to God. Heaven is glorious and gracious, earth verdant and fruitful. The bright and ample circumference of heaven, the variegated surface of the earth, and the profusion of good things that distinguish the seasons, contaminated as they all have been by man’s transgression, even now yield a prospect which annihilates all human grandeur. What idea, then, are we to frame of those new heavens and earth from which sin and corruption are excluded, and where righteousness hath fixed her eternal throne.” — Horne.

Verses 7-9

Psalms 136:7-9. To him that made great lights, &c. — Great luminaries, placed in the firmament of heaven, to shed their light and influences upon the earth: see notes on Genesis 1:14-16. “Light is the life and soul of the universe, the noblest emblem of the power and glory of God, who, even in the night season, leaves not himself without witness, but gives us some portion of that light reflected, which by day we behold flowing from its great fountain in the heart of heaven.”

Verses 10-16

Psalms 136:10-16. To him who smote Egypt, &c. — “From the works of creation the psalmist proceeds to those of providence and grace; and celebrates that mercy which rescued Israel from oppression; brought them out of the house of bondage; divided the sea to make a way for them; supported and conducted them through a waste, howling wilderness; crushed the might and power of those who opposed them; and, at length, settled them in the inheritance promised to their fathers.” Two or three expressions in these verses we shall just notice. Which divided the Red sea into parts — Into two parts, between which he opened a path, giving his people courage to pass through, as without danger so without fear: which latter was an instance of his power over men’s hearts, as the former was of his power over the waters. But overthrew — Hebrew, ונפר, et excussit, and shook off, Pharaoh, &c. — “This translation gives an image of locusts. They fell into the sea like a swarm of locusts:” see Mudge. Which led his people through the wilderness — Through that vast howling wilderness where there was neither way nor provision; through which none but Almighty God could have safely conducted them.

Verses 22-25

Psalms 136:22-25. A heritage unto Israel his servant — He speaks of all that people as of one man, because they were united together in one body, in the worship of one and the same God. Thus God calleth them all his firstborn, Exodus 4:22. Who giveth food to all flesh — To all living creatures. For which God deserves great praises, which the palmist, by his example, teacheth us to render for them, because those who are most concerned either cannot or do not perform this duty. Observe, reader, “the same bounty, which in the natural world provides proper nutriment for every creature, hath also provided for the spirits of all flesh the bread of eternal life. In either sense, Jehovah openeth his hand and filleth all things living with plenteousness. Be therefore his praise as universal and lasting as his mercy.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 136". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.