Ἐξομολογεῖσθε τῷ Κυρίῳ
Give Thanks to the Lord
Because the line “for His mercy endured forever” appears in each of its twenty-six verses, this Psalm, along with Psalm 134, is known in Orthodox worship as the polyeleion or “manifold mercy”. It starts with three introductory verses, as St Jerome states: ‘Give thanks to the Lord of lords’ refers to the Son. The ‘God of Gods’ to the Father. We give thanks, therefore to the Father and to the Son.’
After these verses that call for the praise of God, one may distinguish three stanzas in this Psalm. Stanza 1, verses 4-9, we may think of as the ‘cosmic stanza’, because it deals with God’s work of Creation described in Genesis.
In Stanza 2, verses 10-22, we move from Genesis to Exodus. This is the ‘history stanza’, which contains material from the Books of Exodus, Numbers and Joshua. Stanza 3, verses 23-26, speaks of God’s continuing care for His people throughout the ages. Thus Psalm 135 pursues a threefold theme: creation, deliverance and the continued care of the redeemed, like the Nicene Creed. The mercy which He bestows on His Saints and faithful ones, is forever!
Blessed Augustine writes: ‘To Him that led His people through the wilderness.’ Us, too, He leads through the drought and bareness of this world, so we will not perish in it. ‘And Og, king of the land of Basan’. The…king of ‘confusion’. For what else does the devil heap together but confusion?’ And He gave their land as an inheritance’… ‘An inheritance for Israel His servant’. For He gives them, who once the devil owned, for a heritage to the seed of Abraham, that is, Christ. ‘For in our humiliation the Lord remembered us’… ‘And redeemed us from our enemies’ by the blood of His only-begotten Son. ‘He that gives food to all flesh’, that is, to the whole race of mankind, not Israel alone, but Gentiles also; and of this food is said, ‘My flesh is meat indeed’ (John 6:55).
Psalm 135 insists that the root of all of God’s activity is mercy. When we deal with God, everything is mercy: all we will ever discover of God will be the deepening levels of His great, abundant, overflowing, rich and endless mercy. “For His mercy endures forever” is the eternal song of the Saints!
Source: Lychnos December 2016 / January 2017