June 16, 2014
TODAY’S STUDY TEXT:
“When he had consulted with the people, (Jehoshaphat) appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him in their holy (priestly) garments as they went out before the army, saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever! And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir who had come against Judah.”
II Chronicles 20: 21, 22
“The Lord’s Mercy Endures”
“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever.”
Psalm 136: 1
What does the word “endure” mean to me in practical terms?
In what ways in my life have I seen God’s “merciful endurance” toward me?
How has God’s mercy and loving-kindness been reflected in my life?
“Among the attributes of God, although they are equal, mercy shines with even more brilliance than justice.”
Miguel de Cervantes
“If the end of one mercy were not the beginning of another, we were undone.”
We live in a world filled with “disposable” things. If you don’t believe me, I found some statistics compiled in 2000 that noted that in the United States alone, the population of nearly 300,000,000 had a solid waste output of – 469,212,835,387 pounds per year. This is stuff we threw away. We decided we were done with it and tossed it in the garbage!
This fact really hit me as this morning at 6:30 A.M. I rolled my garbage can out to the curb for the weekly pickup by Waste Management. How ironic that we even need someone to “manage” what we call disposable.
Possibly because there’s so much in our world that we toss-away, sometimes relationships and people even get included as we litter the byways of our lives with what we deem no longer necessary or useful. Because this is a way of behaving here on planet earth, words like “endurance” can become difficult to relate to for nothing much anymore seems to endure. With a divorce rate near 50%, marriages don’t endure. And with a mobile world, where people rarely stay in the same place for too long, the thought of even lifelong friendships seems too good to be true.
This is why the words in Psalm 136, stand out as a beacon of hope to ships tossed on a sea of vulnerability. Over thirty times in the Psalms we find the use of the word “endure” or “endureth.” A word that in the Hebrew means to “abide continuously.” But it is very interesting to note specifically what it is about God that David and other writers of the Psalms say endures! It is God’s merciful, loving-kindness!! It is that special quality that John of the Cross calls the “gentle hand…the delicate touch.” Certainly, after all we learned about David, he was a person who had well felt the gentle hand of his Father’s merciful kindness. Who better to describe the way God treats us when we fall than someone who had been to the bottom of the pit and felt the delicate, gentleness of a Father whose loving-kindness wasn’t transitory for it was a merciful love that endured – it carried through despite hardships, it withstood stress, and it preserved even when rebuffed.
As author Philip Henry noted, mercy is like a continuum from God, a stream that continues flowing: The beginning which has its source in our Father’s heart of love.
The inspirational pen of Amy Carmichael eloquently describes the enduring flow of God’s love when she wrote of her experience in Tamil:
“In Tamil we have a polite word, which tells someone who asks for something that we have nothing to give: we have run short of it – Poochiam.
One day I felt like saying Poochiam about love; I had run short of it. I was in the Forest, and I had just read a letter that was hard to answer lovingly. I was sitting by The Pool at the time, and presently began to watch the water flow down through the deep channel worn in the smooth rocks above it. There was always inflow, so there was always outflow. Never for one minute did the water cease to flow in, and never for one minute did it cease to flow out: and I knew, of course, that the water that flowed out was the water that flowed in. The hollow that we called The Pool had no water of its own, and yet all the year round there was an overflow.
God hath not given you the spirit of fear…but of love.
If love flows in, love will flow out. Let love flow in. That was the word of The Pool. There is no need for any of us to run short of love. We need never say Poochiam.”
Thankfully, our Father never runs short of love for He tells us His merciful, love endures forever! WOW!!
It was after the fear of facing the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites; it was after the voice of God’s prophet reminded the people of Judah that God was in command; it was after Jehoshaphat fell on his face in worship before His God; and it was after a journey through the Wilderness of Tekoa, when King Jehoshaphat took time to have the people of Judah step back and remember that God’s intervention on their behalf wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime happening. Instead, it was an unobstructed flow that never stopped. What a beautiful thought for this king to remind the people of Judah about – especially before victory was theirs. This was not, as he told the people, an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence for God, for His merciful love would prevail from everlasting to everlasting – it endured forever!
If you have any question about the enduring mercy of our Father’s love, then I encourage you to take a moment to read Psalm 136. These comforting words should forever remove any doubt of how your Father eternally embraces you and me:
“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2. O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
3. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
4. To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.
5. To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.
6. To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.
7. To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever.
8. The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever.
9. The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.
10. To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever.
11. And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever.
12. With a strong hand, and with a stretched our arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.
13. To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever.
14. And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever.
15. But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.
16. To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.
17. To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever.
18. And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever.
19. Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever.
20. And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever.
21. And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever.
22. Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.
23. Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever.
24. And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.
25. Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.
26. O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
“What shall I render to Thy name
Or how Thy praises speak?
My thanks how shall I testify?
O Lord, thou knowest I’m weak.
I owe so much, so little can
Return unto Thy name,
Confusion seizes on my soul.
And I am filled with shame.
O Thou that hearest prayers, Lord.
To Thee shall come all flesh,
Thou hast me heard and answered,
My plaints have had access.
What did I ask for but Thou gavest?
What more could I desire?
But thankfulness even all my days –
I humbly this require.
Thy mercies, Lord, have been so great
In number numberless,
Impossible for to recount
Or any way express.
O help Thy saints that sought Thy face
To return unto Thee praise
And walk before Thee as they ought,
In strict and upright ways.”
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