The covenantal love of the Lord, or hesed in Hebrew, is the topic of Psalm 136. Through clever poetic arrangement, the psalmist shows how the love of God is woven throughout His many “great wonders” (verse 4). God’s lovingkindness is seen in His character (verses 1-3), His creation (verses 4-9), His deliverance from Egypt (verses 10-16), His fulfilled promises (verses 17-22), and His saving power (verses 23-25). The psalm then closes how it began, with a call: “Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever” (verse 26).
One focus of the psalmist is creation. While believers commonly read Genesis Chapter 1 with a view to what God is doing physically on the earth, the Hebrew composer sees hesed leaping off the end of every line. As we read Genesis 1:7, “And God made the expanse and separated the waters,” we imagine the love-laden psalmist crying out impatiently in liturgical reply: “For his steadfast love endures forever!” And though we could supply the psalmist’s eager interjection after every line of the creation account, it appears His primary focus is on “the heavens” (Psalm 136:4-9). The psalmist is filled with wonder as he looks out into the vastness of space. He is bewildered by the thought of immeasurable, cosmic love—of an omnipotent Creator whose exquisite arrangement of “the great lights” has revealed a heart yearning in affection for its very image: man and woman.
We are invited to join the psalmist in stargazing so that we, too, would perceive the limitless love of God. It was because He loved us that He set a great star over Bethlehem to point in the direction of His Son—Jesus, the “light of the world,” “the bright and morning star” who says to His faithful, “I have loved you” (John 9:5; Revelation 22:16; 3:9). And through His Gospel, the Holy Spirit transforms our perspective so that we begin to see His love in every ordinary thing; so that we, like the psalmist, don love-tinted glasses that have us anticipating the kindness of God around every corner.
But when you and I look into the night sky, do we see His covenantal love, His hesed? Do we see it in a child’s eyes? In a thunderstorm? In a pile of leaves? What about in a pile of laundry or dirty dishes? Is there really any ordinary thing in life that does not attest to the everlasting, steadfast love of the Lord? We ought to stargaze more often, but for the love of God.
“To Him who made the great lights, For His lovingkindness is everlasting:”
Psalms 136:7 NASB1995
Pray with me -
Father of lights, the heavens declare Your glory, and the sky Your handiwork. But as we peer into it, let Your “great lights” also testify to Your love for us, a love manifested through the Gospel of Christ and revealed in our hearts by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit.
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