O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Editor’s Note: The phrase “for He is good; his mercy endureth forever,” is found 10 times in the Old Testament, counting Jeremiah 33:11, where it reads “the LORD is good; for His mercy endureth forever.” The phrase “his mercy endureth forever” is found a total of 41 times in the Bible, 26 times in Psalm 136 alone.
HENRY SMITH (1560-1591): Many sweet things are in the Word of God, but the name of mercy is the sweetest word in all the Scriptures, which made David harp upon it twenty-six times in this Psalm.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Why should we object to the reiteration in this instance, for which the best reasons can be shown?
THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): All repetitions are not vain―this repetition is not to be disapproved when there is a special emphasis, and spiritual elegancy in it, because there was a special reason in it, the Psalmist’s purpose there being to show the unweariedness, and the unexhausted riches of God’s free grace; that notwithstanding all the former experiences they had had, God is where He was at first.
THOMAS SCOTT (1747-1821): The frequent repetition of this sentence shews how greatly the Lord delights in mercy, and deems Himself honoured by the exercise of it.
ROBERT HARRIS (1578-1658): Mercy pleaseth Him. It is no trouble for Him to exercise mercy. It is His delight: we are never weary of receiving, therefore He cannot be of giving; for it is a more blessed thing to give than to receive; so God takes more content in the one than we in the other.
THOMAS SCOTT: And it teaches us that this attribute should be peculiarly dear to us, being the source of all our hopes and comforts.
JOHN CALVIN: The recollection of God’s mercies should flourish throughout all ages.
CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): See how the mercy of God wrought in all the days of old, even from the foundation of the world! Precisely in the same manner it still operates, and shall ever continue to operate, towards all who fear His name, Psalm 103:17. God will not withdraw it from those who are united unto Christ by faith, Psalm 89:28-36. He may hide His face from them for a season; but with everlasting mercies will He gather them, Isaiah 54:7-10. The repetition of this truth twenty-six times in as many verses is a very sufficient pledge to us that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” Romans 11:29; and that “whom he loveth, he loveth to the end,” John 13:1.
THOMAS SCOTT (1747-1821): By “mercy” we understand the Lord’s disposition to be compassionate and to relieve those whom sin has rendered miserable and base; His readiness to forgive and to be reconciled to the most provoking of transgressors, and to bestow all blessings upon them; together with all the provision which He has made for the honour of His name, in the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Time would fail us to tell of His preserving, sustaining, pardoning, supplying mercy. Unto His own, God is “the Father of mercies,” 2 Corinthians 1:3.
CHARLES SIMEON: We would more particularly recommend to every one to consider the mercies which he himself has received: we would have every one trace them from his earliest infancy to the present moment: and, in reference to those interpositions of the Deity which appear to have been more conspicuous, we would recommend that they be inspected with peculiar care, entering minutely into all the particulars of each, and viewing in each distinct particular the transcendent mercy of God.
ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): It is very sweet and blessed; under present troubles, to call to remembrance former mercies. Asaph found this, Psalm 77:3-6―Reader, let you and I look back, under any new troubles, to past deliverances, and behold the many Ebenezers which we have set up, that we may say, “Hitherto hath God helped us.”
CHARLES SIMEON: Perhaps it will be said by some, I have not yet obtained an interest in Christ: how then can I render thanks for what I have never received? To this we reply, Have you no temporal mercies for which to give thanks? And, if you are not yet partakers of spiritual mercies, have you no reason to thank God for the offer of them, and for not having been yet visited with the judgments which you have so richly merited? Think what is the state of millions who have not committed either more or greater sins than you; and what might at this moment have been your state also, if God in his infinite mercy had not spared you; and given you space for repentance?
A. W. PINK: Unspeakably solemn is it to see so many abusing this Divine perfection. They continue to despise God’s authority, trample upon His laws continue in sin, and yet presume upon His mercy. But God will not be unjust to Himself. God shows mercy to the truly penitent, but not to the impenitent, Luke 13:3. To continue in sin and yet reckon upon Divine mercy remitting punishment is diabolical. Christ is the spiritual Mercy-seat, and all who despise and reject His Lordship shall perish.
CHARLES SIMEON: Do but think of this, and you will want no further incentive to gratitude and thanksgiving. But think also of the offers of salvation now made to you, a salvation free, and full, and everlasting: O! what thanks does this call for at your hands! What if one such offer were now made to those who are shut up under chains of everlasting darkness and despair; would no thanks be expressed by them? I call upon you then to give thanks unto the God of heaven, who yet waiteth to be gracious unto you, and whose long-suffering you should account to be salvation.
A. W. PINK: But let our final thought be of God’s spiritual mercies unto His own people. “Thy mercy is great unto the heavens,” Psalm 57:10. The riches thereof transcend our loftiest thought. “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him,” Psalm 103:11. None can measure it. The elect are designated “vessels of mercy,” Romans 9:23. It is mercy that quickened them when they were dead in sins, Ephesians 2:4,5. It is mercy that saves them, Titus 3:5. It is His abundant mercy which begat them unto an eternal inheritance, I Peter 1:3.
JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): His mercy in providing heaven for His people is more than all the rest.
ROBERT HARRIS: It is everlasting―Everlasting mercy, then, is perfect mercy, which shuts out all the imperfections of time, beginning, end, succession, and such is God’s mercy, chiefly to his church, an endless mercy; it knows no end, receives no interruption.
ROBERT HAWKER: “O give thinks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever,” verse 26. The Psalm sweetly ends as it began―And therefore we may find cause to give thanks to our God in Christ, and join the song, for His mercy endureth forever!