Psalms for Families: Devotions for All Ages, Psalm 136

Psalms for Families, by Robert J. Keeley and Laura Keeley, is a devotional book for the entire family designed to help parents explore the riches of the book of Psalms with their children and teens. These devotionals will help parents learn more about the psalms as they teach their children about praise, prayer, and lament. This book contains four devotionals on each of our selected psalms as well as notes for adults that provide additional information and background.

Introduction and Full Series

Devotional 1, Devotional 2, Devotional 3, Devotional 4, Notes for Adults

Psalm 136 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 
and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 
but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 
Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 
and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 
He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

Prayer

Loving Father,
You have been with your people since the beginning. Your loving care has protected us, fed us, and sheltered us. We give you thanks for creation, for the wonderful things you have done in the past and for being with us today. Your love is forever. Amen.

Psalm 136 His Love Endures Forever

Psalm 136
Devotional 1: His Love Endures Forever

Psalm 136 was probably set up so that a leader would read a sentence and a group of people would respond. Maybe you do that in church sometimes. This psalm was written at a time when there were no. printing presses, copy machines, projectors, or computers, so there was no way everyone could read something at the same time. The words that all the people said together had to be important words that that they could learn quickly. In Psalm 136 all the people say just one sentence, and it is a very important sentence: “His love endures forever.”

Read Psalm 136:1-9. Today, choose one person to read the first line of each verse and ask everyone else to respond with the phrase “His love endures forever.” Try to keep track of how many times you say that. Ready? Go!

If you read the whole psalm, you’ll see that the phrase “his love endures forever” is repeated twenty-six times. In this psalm we are reminded over and over again of what is important: God’s love will endure forever. It will never end.

The people of Israel seemed to forget about God sometimes. They disobeyed God and worshiped gods from other countries. They followed people who sometimes led them away from God. They needed to learn that their God’s love would not end. Even through tough times, like when they were wandering in the desert or facing an enemy, God’s love was with them every day.

By repeating the phrase “His love endures forever” over and over again we too can learn something that we need to remember every day. One of the great things about that phrase is that people all over the world say it when they read this psalm. Imagine people who live far away saying, “His love endures forever” just as you are. Maybe they’re doing it in a different language or with a different accent, but even though they are different from you, they love God too.

God’s people have been reading this psalm together for thousands of years! The people of Israel, even the ones who lived before Jesus was born, said these words together. People in Europe in the Middle Ages said them, and scientists and explorers said them. When we say them we are joining with people all over the world who, for generations, have stood together and heard Psalm 136 and proclaimed: “His love endures forever.” We combine our voices with the people who love God today and those who lived before us. By joining together as a group and responding together with the same words, we remember that we are one people—the people of God.

Enter the Psalm: Go around the group and ask each person to mention the name of a person or a group of people who might be saying “His love endures forever” today. Think about missionaries, people in other countries, or people in your community as well as places where you have visited. Remember these brothers and sisters in Christ in your prayers as you pray for the church that is much bigger than just here and now.

Psalm 136 Thank You

Psalm 136
Devotional 2: Thank You

The phrase “His love endures forever” is repeated twenty-six times in Psalm 136. You might think, then, this is psalm is all about love. But this psalm is only partly about God’s love; it is also a psalm of thanksgiving.

Read Psalm 136:1-9, choosing one person to be the reader. Everyone else should say “His love endures forever” after each phrase is read. As you read or listen to the reading, think about what we can be thankful for.

Did you notice all the thanksgiving that goes on in these verses? Do you say “thank you” very often? You probably say “thank you” when someone does something nice for you. Saying “thank you” also helps to remind us that what we have often comes from other people. Actually, what we have always comes from God. Even when someone does something for us, God gave that person the ability and the resources to do it. God gave that person strength for the day so that he or she could do something good. God also gives you the strength to say “thank you.” So when you say “thank you” over the next few days, remember that God deserves our thanks too.

Here are some ways that we can thank God:

  • love him with all our hearts.
  • spend time with him.
  • tell others about him.
  • do the things he wants us to do.
  • pray.

So what can you thank God for today?

Enter the Psalm: Write the words “Thank you, God” in the center of a piece of paper. Leave the paper out on your kitchen table for one day. As you go through the day, stop and draw or write what you are thankful for. Later, talk together about what you wrote.

Psalm 136 Remember

Psalm 136
Devotional 3: Remember

“Remember when we went to the fireworks together? That was awesome.” Did you ever say something like that? Maybe it wasn’t fireworks. Maybe it was a day at the beach or a special family vacation or even just a time when the whole family was together. When we talk about these times together, we each add our memories to the conversation. It’s fun to remember good times, and talking about them helps us all refresh our memories. For the Israelite people, Psalm 136 was like one of those conversations.

Read Psalm 136:4-15.

See the list of things the psalm writer is remembering? He says, “Remember when God made the heavens? That was awesome. Remember when God spread out the water and the land? That was awesome too.” Then we read about a big event in Israelite history—being rescued from slavery in Egypt. The writer mentions Israel’s call for help and how God rescued them and brought them to the Promised Land as a way to remind everyone of some of the big things that God did for the people of Israel.

God has done some big things for us too. We were also in slavery. Not literal slavery like the Israelites were, but we are helpless to do anything about sin. So, like the Israelites, we cry to God for help, and God comes to our rescue just like he did for the Israelites. God rescued us from our sin by sending his Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for us and to rise again.

How do we know God is going to continue to rescue us? He’s done it before. Remember the time when he created the world? Remember the time when he rescued his people from Egypt? God’s love lasts forever.

Enter the Psalm: What are some of the things you like to remember? Have you done things with your family or friends that you like to talk about? Are there any times when you really noticed God’s faithfulness in your life? Spend a few moments talking about these things and then read the first three verses of Psalm 136 again.

Psalm 136 The God Who Keeps His Promises

Psalm 136
Devotional 4: The God Who Keeps His Promises

The writer of Psalm 136 spends a lot of time reminding his readers of the things God has done for them. But in the last section of the psalm we find two names that are probably not very familiar: Sihon and Og.

Sihon and Og show up briefly in Numbers 21 in a story that takes place while the Israelites are wandering in the desert after they had been freed from the Egyptians and before they settled in the Promised Land. This place was called the Promised Land because God promised it to Abraham way back in Genesis. The Israelites wanted to pass through the land of the Amorites on their way to the Promised Land, so they sent a nice message to the king, Sihon, saying, “Please let us pass through. We promise we won’t touch anything.” But Sihon would not let Israel pass through his land. Instead, he gathered his entire army and met them for battle. God gave Israel a great victory over the Amorites and Sihon that day. After this, another king—the king of Bashan, whose name was Og—also came out and met Israel for battle. Once again, the Lord gave Israel the victory.

Read Psalm 136:1 and then read verses16-26.

These two kings, Sihon and Og, serve as examples of powerful men who thought they could stop the God of the Israelites. These kings thought they could stand in the way of God fulfilling his promise to his people. They were wrong, of course. God, whose love endures forever, who created everything, and who rescued his people from slavery in Egypt, triumphed over these powerful kings! 

The people of Israel are not the only people who need to remember that God fulfills his promises. We do too. We sometimes doubt that God can actually work through some of our problems. But God can. He did it when he defeated Pharaoh, he did it when he defeated Sihon and Og, and he does it today. Our God loves us—his love endures forever. He will take care of us, just as he took care of his people all those years ago. That’s a promise we can depend on.

Enter the Psalm: God keeps his promises. He kept his promise to Noah, Abraham, and the people of Israel. What things has God promised you?


Psalm 136
More—Responding to Our God (Notes for Adults)

One way to look at worship is as the retelling of God’s covenant story. We come together to hear and experience the story of God’s work in our lives and in the lives of his people throughout history. Our worship services are often a retelling of these stories and a renewal of the covenant of grace.

In some ways, Psalm 136 is like a little worship service. The story of God’s salvation to the people of Israel is retold. And, just like in a worship service, there is a place for the people to respond with the refrain, “His love endures forever.” This psalm was perhaps written for use in public gatherings to recount the history of God’s faithfulness.

The psalm begins with a call for thankfulness and praise to God in the first three verses, and then enters into a recitation of God’s work in the lives of his people. It reminds us what God did in creation (verses 4-9) and moves on to how God saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (verses 10-16) and led Israel to conquer Canaan (verses 17-25.)  The ending matches the beginning when verse 26 states, “Give thanks to the God of Heaven.” 

This psalm invites us to draw close to God and to thank him for who he is and what he has done in our lives. He is not just the God who has done these things for people many years ago. He is the God who also does them for us. His love endures forever.

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