Give thanks to the
“I love you!” my dad called out as I slammed the car door and headed into school. I was in sixth grade, and for months we had played out basically the same scenario every morning. We arrived at school, Dad said, “Have a great day! I love you!” and all I said was “Bye.” I wasn’t angry with him or ignoring him. I was simply so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I didn’t notice his words. Nevertheless, my dad’s love remained steadfast.
God’s love is like that—and more. It endures forever. The Hebrew word that expresses this steadfast kind of love is hesed. It’s used over and over again in the Old Testament, and twenty-six times in Psalm 136 alone! No modern word can fully capture the meaning; we translate it “kindness,” “loving-kindness,” “mercy,” or “loyalty.” Hesed is a love that is based on covenant commitment; love that is loyal and faithful. Even when God’s people sinned, He was faithful in loving them. Steadfast love is an integral part of the character of God (Exodus 34:6).
When I was a child, I sometimes took my dad’s love for granted. Sometimes now I do the same thing with my heavenly Father’s love. I forget to listen to God and respond. I forget to be grateful. Yet I know that God’s love for me remains steadfast—a reality that provides a sure foundation for all of my life.
God, we praise You for Your steadfast love to us! Even when we’re faithless, You’re faithful.
Psalm 136 is known in Jewish tradition as the Great Hallel (from hallelujah; a psalm of praise). The writer of this psalm isn’t given, although some commentators suggest it was written by David. This joyful psalm was likely used as a responsive reading or song. The congregation would repeat (or sing) in unison the refrain “His love endures forever” after an individual or a choir of priests and Levites sang each opening sentence. It was likely sung during the dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 7:3, 6). Variations of the refrain are also found in 1 Chronicles 16:34 and 2 Chronicles 5:13; 20:21. This psalm not only served as a reminder to the Israelites but also reminds us today to praise God for His never-ending goodness and His wondrous deeds on our behalf.