In this series, we review Psalm 136. This chapter examines God’s goodness from multiple perspectives and presents the evidence of his unique possession of this quality. From his inherent nature to his powers of creation to his intervention of behalf of those He loves, his goodness abounds. Let us study this portrait of God with the honor and reverence He is due.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for His lovingkindness endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His lovingkindness endures forever.
In these first verses, the writer begins by establishing who God is. First, we are told that He is good. While this may seem like a rather broad and innocuous commentary, it actually is a defining statement. Goodness has its roots in God as He is the only one who possesses it [Mark 10:18]. Outside of God, goodness cannot exist. The goodness that we possess as believers is only that which works it way through us as a manifestation of God’s Holy Spirit [Gal. 5:22]. In thanking God for being good, the writer establishes his unique standing above all others.
Second, the writer gives thanks to the God of gods. Here, he is making the distinction between false gods and the real God. False gods exist, and they may attempt to show an imitation of God’s power. However, our God has power over them all as the one true God, and He will demonstrate this power to show that He occupies that singular position [1 Kings 18:36-39]. Third, the writer gives thanks to the Lord of lords. This is similar to the prior statement. The world has many lowercase lords. This can be anything that man allows to rule over him, such as money or self-indulgence. However, none of these lords has any power other than that which is given to it by man. The uppercase Lord, on the other hand, has inherent power as the authoritative ruler over the nations and over man [Rev. 19:11-16]. His status of Lord is absolute, eternal and independent of anyone and anything.
These initial verses lay out the foundation of God’s entitlement to our thankfulness, our praise. Only He is good. Only He is the true God. Only He is the true Lord. His authority and power are unmatched, and his goodness is the root of all true goodness. Everything that exists has come into being only through him [Col. 1:16-17]. And rightly so, the day will come when every tongue will confess the truth of his greatness and goodness in a posture of submission and reverence [Isa. 45:23-24]. Father, remind us daily of your unique greatness, and transform us daily to give You greater reverence and honor as You deserve.