Disappointed by Other People
Do people ever disappoint you? I understand that at one time, people could rely on a handshake. Now, instead of everlasting faithfulness, we might easily believe that some people have recurring fickleness.
Please don’t get me wrong. There are still good, reliable people around. But, I think we’ve all experienced a lack of dependability in others. Sadly, I realize I’ve not always been dependable. You?
Sometimes it’s friends or neighbors who let us down. At times our co-workers or leaders don’t follow through – worse they may work behind our backs to get a leg up.
The worst, I suppose, is when our own family members turn against us. And, in these days, marriages fall apart right and left because of unfaithfulness.
The Word on God’s Faithfulness
Reading Psalm 136 provides a unique experience among the psalms. This experience reminds me of the Responsive Readings found in the back of most hymnals. These readings alternate between a leader and the people of the congregation. Likewise, the response here is an easily repeated line that speaks of God’s everlasting faithfulness – “For His faithfulness is everlasting.” Every verse makes a statement about God and reiterates this line.
As I looked at this passage the other day, I noticed how God’s faithfulness is shown in His blessings to us.
The first three verses tell us that God is good, that He is over all other gods, and that He is Lord of all lords. Certainly, we find God’s everlasting faithfulness in His character and nature.
Certainly knowing the simple truths that God is love, God is good, and God is God give me encouragement as I face each day.
God’s Everlasting Faithfulness in Creation
In addition, we are told that God does great wonders and made the heavens with great skill. It follows that He created the earth and the waters of the earth. Then, the writer notes that He made the sun, moon, and stars. Thus we find that God has been faithful in creation. Each event is punctuated with that refrain, “For His faithfulness is everlasting.”
A few things about our Creator God stand out for me. First, the truth of His creation creates within me a sense of awe and wonder about the world around me. Second, I know that He created you and me. That gives significance to each of our lives. There is value in every human life. Third, the God who can create, can also re-create. Because of this He can take a sinful life and make a new creation. In addition, I know that He is a God of second, and third, and more opportunities as He forgives the sin of today and gives hope for tomorrow. How wonderful to trust the everlasting faithfulness of Creator God.
God’s Everlasting Faithfulness in Redemption
The following verses, 10-15, share the great event of redemption for the people of Israel. They summarize the plagues God wrought on Israel culminating with the loss of their firstborn. Subsequently, we learn that with His outstretched arm, He brought them out of slavery. Then in His power, God led His people through the Red Sea while bringing destruction on the Egyptians who sought to bring them back. God’s everlasting faithfulness was shown in His redemption.
When I look and see a Redeeming God, I easily see Jesus. The story of the exodus and the salvation of the people of Israel provides a beautiful picture of our Savior. He who saved His people from the bondage of Egypt, is the same God who saves me from the bondage of sin. As a result of His death on the cross I have forgiveness and abundant life. Through His resurrection I have hope for eternal life. Praise God for His everlasting faithfulness in redemption.
God’s Everlasting Faithfulness in Deliverance
After that the picture shifts into their wilderness wanderings and how God gave them their inheritance in the land. Along the way, kings and nations who opposed them were defeated through God’s strength. He was faithful in His deliverance.
We don’t have to wander in a literal desert to be challenged each day. As we rise each morning, we can find great comfort and strength in knowing that our God goes before us to lead us. He goes behind us to protect us. Each moment He walks beside us to encourage us. And, He carries us through the darkest moments. No, God didn’t keep His people from the hard times and the battles, but He gave victory as they went through them. Thanks be to God who delivers us through His great faithfulness.
God’s Everlasting Faithfulness in Provision
Finally, in the closing verses, we see the provision of God. He lifts up the lowly, He rescues His people from their enemies, and He gives food to all. As a result, His everlasting faithfulness extends to His provision for the needs of His children.
How often we are like the people of Israel being led from bondage to the promise. We don’t see the bigger picture, but find plenty of reason to complain along the way. Yet, God in His everlasting faithfulness provided for their needs. In their thirst, He provided water. For their hunger, He provided food. Even the shoes on their feet didn’t wear out. I’m reminded of the words of Jesus:
Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear for clothing?’…for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kindom and His righteousness, and all theses things will be provided to you.Matthew 6:31-33 NASB 2020
There is no promise that I will receive all I want, but I do have God’s promise that He will take care of me. He knows my need and through His everlasting faithfulness, God provides for me.
The final shout is “Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His faithfulness is everlasting.” Likewise, as I think about God’s goodness, His creation, His redemption, His deliverance, and His provision, I can only repeat these words of praise. Thanks be to God!
When we look around us, we will find those who will fail us. But, when we look up, we find a God whose everlasting faithfulness we can rely on.
A Hymn of God’s Everlasting Faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
“Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas O. Chisholm (1923)
You can view the background story and listen my piano arrangement of this hymn on YouTube. There is also a lyric video of “I Know Whom I Have Believed” which has a similar theme.