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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Psalms 136



Verse 1

Psalms 136.

An exhortation to give thanks to God for particular mercies.

THIS psalm, like the former, is a commemoration of the wonderful things which God had done for the Jews. Bishop Patrick supposes it to have been intended for the use of their solemn festivals; as it was called by the Jews, הגדול הלל hallel haggadol, the great thanksgiving. He observes upon the frequent repetition of the half verse, that this was done to make them more sensible that they owed all they had to the divine bounty; to excite them to depend entirely upon that bounty, and to rest assured that it would never fail them, if they piously and sincerely acknowledged it. This form of acknowledgment, for his mercy, &c. was prescribed by David to be used continually in the divine service, 1 Chronicles 16:41 followed by Solomon, 2 Chronicles 3:6 and observed by Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:21. See Bishop Lowth's 29th Prelection.

Verse 5

Psalms 136:5. To him that by wisdom made the heavens Namely, so as to move in their constant vicissitude, and regular order.

Verse 15

Psalms 136:15. But overthrew Pharaoh But shook off Pharaoh, &c. This translation gives an image of locusts. They fell into the sea like a swarm of locusts. See Mudge.

Verse 23

Psalms 136:23. Who remembered us in our low estate It is not easy to translate otherwise. But as the original is לנו lanu, to us, it means that God remembered in their favour; remembered to them what was past, and his covenant made with their forefathers; In their low estate, when they were severely afflicted for their sins, and in danger of being thrown out of the good land into which he had brought them. See Judges, chap. ii, iii, 4:

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Repeated calls are needful for us, who are so backward to the work of praise. The object of our praise is Jehovah, the God of gods, the Lord of lords, transcendently great and glorious, whom angels and men adore: and most worthy is he to be praised.

1. Because he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. This is his most delightful attribute; mercy in an overflowing stream descends from him the fountain, and all his faithful people will prove it so eternally.

2. Because he alone doth great wonders: in heaven above his wisdom appears; vast the work, stupendous the contrivance, amazing the execution, in order, beauty, proportion, formed with exactest harmony, the sun to rule the day, the moon and stars the night, in regular succession: and his wonder-working hand is seen in earth beneath, rising above the waters, and garnished with every necessary for man and beast, and this because his mercy endureth for ever, as in his works of creation and providence abundantly appears; and therefore he claims, from all, continual adoration, love, and praise.

2nd, From general mercies, of which all alike partake, the Psalmist passes on to the peculiar instances of God's regard to his believing people, from whom he expects a peculiar tribute of praise, for spiritual mercies bestowed, as well as for the enduring mercy that he hath yet in store for the faithful: various instances of these are here mentioned.

1. Their deliverance from Egypt, wrought with a stretched-out arm, after the most awful plagues executed on their oppressors; which closed with that most terrible judgment the death of their first-born. Yet more enduring are his mercies still towards all his spiritual and faithful children, who have in Jesus Christ a greater deliverance from the bondage of sin and Satan, and eternal redemption from all the powers of evil.

2. Their passage through the Red Sea, divided by miraculous power, to let them safely through, then closing with tremendous roar on their pursuers, and overwhelming them under its mighty waters: and such mercy for ever shall the faithful find; in all their trials he will open them a way through a stormy world, bring them safe to the shore of eternal rest, and from thence enable them to look back on all their enemies, destroyed for ever, as these Egyptians on the shore.

3. Forty years he led them through the wilderness, and fed them by repeated miracles; nor did repeated provocations stop the current of his favours to those who were faithful, for his mercy endureth for ever.

4. He brought them safe to the land of Canaan, after subduing mighty kings and their armies before them, according to the promise made unto their fathers, that they might see how astonishing his mercies were, and be engaged to trust in them for ever. A better land is prepared for God's faithful persevering children; and through grace, amidst all the opposition of their spiritual enemies, they shall be preserved to this everlasting kingdom, where to eternity they will acknowledge that his mercy endureth for ever.

3rdly, The more we reflect, the more cause we shall find to praise God's amazing mercy and love.

1. For his grace in redemption. He remembered us in our low estate, and redeemed us from our enemies; many a time he rescued the Jewish people from their bonds, when most oppressed; but he hath done infinitely more for his spiritual and faithful Israel; when sunk under guilt, corruption, misery, at the gate of the grave, and ready to sink into the belly of hell, he hath ransomed us by his blood, raised us from our state of sin and death, and will save every persevering believer with an everlasting salvation. Praise the Lord, O my soul!

2. For his kind provision. He giveth food to all flesh; the meanest reptile partakes of his care in common with the greatest of his creatures; he openeth his hand, and they are filled with good; for his mercy is over all his works.

3. For all this are we most deeply obliged to give thanks unto the God of heaven; all other creatures on earth want the power to speak his praise; from man alone that tribute is expected, as the tongue of this lower world, and as the peculiar object of that mercy which endureth for ever.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 136:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

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