“Give Thanks to the Lord, For His Steadfast Love Endures Forever”

The phrase “give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever” appears exactly like this 10 times in the Old Testament but appears in part and sentiment throughout scripture. The eternally enduring love of God should inspire thanksgiving in everyone.

The Appearance to Moses in Exodus 34

Moses descended Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, breaking the tablets in anger as the people worshiped idols, disobeying the command they heard from God’s thundering voice. After Moses made new tablets God allowed Moses to see His glory pass, both His presence and a description of His glorious nature. Exodus 34:5-8 declare God’s mercy and justice upon generations arising from his steadfast love and faithfulness.

What Does “Steadfast” Mean?

“Steadfast” means something firmly fixed in place or “standing fast” and immovable.  Considering the eternal nature of God, this means His love outlives our short earthly existence. Our children and future generations will know it as did  our parents, grandparents, and ancestors.

“Throughout the OT the Hebrews [word] is used most often to convey the idea of something being established…or standing firm. This quality of steadfastness or firmness often has a moral character to it; a heart that is steadfast towards God is a faithful heart that trusts Him under all circumstances.” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

His steadfast love for us should produce steadfast love for Him in our hearts.

The Ark and the Tabernacle

When the Ark of the Covenant is placed in the tabernacle, in 1 Chronicles 16, David fed the people, the priests offered sacrifices, and Levites offered praise before the Ark. The steadfast love of God was the theme of the praise offered morning and evening.

David offered a song of thanksgiving, 1 Chronicles 16:8-34. As we summarize this song, note that we can pray and praise the same theme.

  • Give thanks to God because of all of His wondrous works and mighty power for His people.
  • Let those who seek the Lord seek His strength.
  • God is judge of all the earth.
  • God and His people have made a covenant together.
  • God protected His people when they were few and vulnerable.
  • The righteous should remind each other to praise God in the greatest ways for “splendor and majesty are before him and strength and joy are in His place.”
  • Let all creation give God the glory, honor, and thanksgiving due Him.
  • The saved should give thanks to the God of salvation.

The song closes with “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!”

Jehosophat’s battle song

The phrase arises in a darker period of Jewish history when the tribes divided into two confederations, Israel and Judah. The people of Judah emerged from a period of unfaithfulness, but soon after the reforms of Jehoshaphat enemies gathered against them. Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast, telling the assembly to seek God.

Jehoshaphat appealed to God’s steadfastness, listing the great deeds performed for His people in times past, expressing anxiety about the enemies but their trust in Him (1 Chronicles 20). God promised to deliver them if they remained steadfast (hold their position) and trusted in the Lord, 1 Chronicles 20:15-17. They put the enemy to flight by singing praise of God’s steadfast love, 1 Chronicles 20:20-22.

It Is The Theme of Several Psalms

Psalm 106

The psalm begins with the praise of God’s steadfast love and His works and salvation. However, the psalm confesses sin and lack of faith among God’s people, His merciful deliverance, and their quick return to unfaithfulness, 106:6-13. The psalm resounds with God’s people forgetting what He had done, their lack of trust in His future deliverance despite the past victories, and turning from God despite His mercy. Rebellion after rebellion is detailed but the psalm concludes with the steadfast love and mercy of the Lord, 106:44-48. The steadfast love of the Lord endures even when God’s people do not remain faithful to Him but is ready when they humbly return to Him.

Psalm 107

The phrase begins the psalm with an exhortation “let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” The psalm praises God’s gathering His people from times of trial and exile.

  • God conveyed them from deserted places, hungry and thirsty, to their own city.
  • Some were exiled and prisoners, enduring hard labor, because they rebelled against God but cried for deliverance when they came to their senses.
  • Those who were foolish through sinful ways repented and cried to God who delivered them from destruction.
  • The proud, distressed seeing the mighty power of God in stormy seas, and cried to God who delivered them.
  • When Israel was wicked, God made a fruitful land a desert, but when they repented brought bounty on the land and protected the livestock.
  • God punished His people, thorough love, to bring them back, humble their pride, and wake them from wickedness.
    • Proverbs 3:11-12 – “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
    • Hebrews 12:6 – “”For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

Psalm 118

The psalmist opened with praise to God’s steadfast love and salvation, followed by an apparent hopeless situation as enemies surrounded him and “pushed him hard” so that he was falling, but God helped Him. Deliverance is not always immediate. We must endure trials to see if we will trust God. Jesus told the parable of the unjust judge to teach His followers to “pray always and not lose heart” especially when it appears that God is not listening or doing anything about our situation.

The psalm ends with praise for deliverance, confidently entering the gates of God,  victorious because they trusted God when it seemed hope was lost.  You are my God and give thanks for His steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 136

It appears the priest would say the first part and the audience would answer “for His steadfast love endures forever.” The psalm praises God’s superiority, His mighty works in creation, delivering Israel from Egypt, and conquest of Israel’s enemies to give them a home in the Promised Land.

The Darkness of Exile

Finally,  in the darkness of Judah’s exile, after God destroyed Jerusalem to punish the wickedness of Judah, the praise of God’s enduring steadfast love appears as a light. Jeremiah 33 records the promise of Judah’s escape from exile to return to their land, filling God’s house with praise and rebuilding Jerusalem. They would return because His steadfast love endures forever. This thought comforted Jeremiah even in the midst of the pain of exile, Lamentations 3:19-26.

Taking into account all of these things when should we “give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever?”

  • In good times when food is plentiful and we are healthy.
  • In hard times when food is scarce and we are sick and in pain.
  • When our rulers are good, justice pervades the land, and the people are righteous.
  • When our rulers are corrupt, injustice prevails, and the people are wicked.
  • When our faith is strong and we are active in His service and confident in His word.
  • When our faith is weak, we struggle in prayers and service, and doubts arise.
  • When we enjoy the fruits of a faithful life to God.
  • When we have been humbled by the discipline of God and must deal with the consequences of our sin that woke us up to our unfaithfulness or spiritual sleep.
  • When, like Jehoshaphat, enemies surround us and it appears that Satan is prevailing, we can stand our ground in the confidence and hope of the Lord, praying and singing.
  • When we are at death’s door and eternity awaits on the other side.

Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever?”

Book Review: Sex At First Sight

Richard Simmons III has revealed the must understood and least discussed part of the culture of unrestrained sexuality and the hookup culture: the sexual liberty so praised and promoted is purchased at the cost of dignity, health, and intimacy. Those who have indulged in the culture are fighting many more sexual diseases than before, feel used and guilty for using others, struggle to develop relationships, and are feeling lonelier than ever.

Sex At First SightSex At First Sight by Richard E. Simmons III

Richard Simmons III has revealed the must understood and least discussed part of the culture of unrestrained sexuality and the hookup culture: the sexual liberty so praised and promoted is purchased at the cost of dignity, health, and intimacy. Those who have indulged in the culture are fighting many more sexual diseases than before, feel used and guilty for using others, struggle to develop relationships, and are feeling lonelier than ever.

Though Simmons presents the message from a Christian worldview, he cites numerous scholars, former proponents of the open sexuality movement, and other non-Christian experts who admit the truth of God’s moral regulations of sexuality despite their reluctance to follow Him. There are cautionary tales from college campuses and the therapists couch. Even those who encouraged the so-called sexual revolution have come to see that it did not grant freedom but became a prison. Feminists are seeing that the sexual revolution, far from freeing women, has made them more objectified and considered only for what they can do do please another, not for who they are.

Yet Simmons also presents the hope of escaping this culture, returning the dignity and peace of a virtuous life. He urges us to consider how God did not make sex dirty, as the critics claimed, but God made sex. It was a gift for man that, like other gifts, man has made an idol to his detriment. The Bible praises the sexual relationship in marriage as honorable and to be a pleasurable “knowing” of one’s spouse in a special, secret, and sacred way. The Bible also reveals the destructive consequences of an individual and society of sexual relations outside of that context.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. I’ve worked with so many young people for decades and heard the stories echoed in this book and have seen the impact, decades later, of people who followed this lifestyle when younger, whether they were people of faith or not. Everything in life has consequences whether felt immediately or in the far future. Don’t dismiss this important fact.

I woke up late one Saturday morning and read the whole thing before lunch so it will not be a long read but it is so packed with good information from secular and religious writers, therapists, psychologists, and people living in and recovering from this unfortunate social experiment. If you work with young people, or have children, read this book.

If you are a high school, college student, or past that age and are struggling with the emptiness, confusion, and loneliness that this life has brought PLEASE read this book. He will not preach at you; he will enlighten you gently and lovingly and show you the lies and ignorance that created this environment that is pressuring you and show you a great way of escape to find forgiveness, fulfillment, and true intimacy in a real relationship.

Buy from Amazon (affiliate link)

Showing the Love of Christ by Hospitality

1 Peter 4:8-9  “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” 

The early church had the love and togetherness of a stable family.  In Acts 2, we read that the brethren willingly shared their possessions with those in need and ate food together with gladness and simplicity of heart.  Nowhere did God command the church to provide a meal for brethren to use for fellowship.  In fact, Paul rebukes the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11:22 by saying, “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” We do not read of New Testament churches building “fellowship halls” but instead shared social fellowship on an individual basis.

The New Testament writers urged brethren to show hospitality towards one another.  The word “hospitality” literally means a “love of strangers.”  In the Old Testament there were laws regulating the treatment of strangers.  For example, Deuteronomy 10:18-19 commands: “He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”   Before the Law, Abraham and Lot fed and sheltered strangers (Genesis 18, 19).  These men entertained angels unknowingly, Hebrews 13:2.  From the beginning, hospitality has been a virtue desired by God.

The New Testament urges us to be “given to hospitality,” Romans 12:13.  The word translated “given” literally means to pursue.  We must pursue opportunities to show hospitality.  We must also recognize that many of our brethren, whom we see week after week, are still in many ways strangers to us.  We may not know where they live, what their hobbies are, their likes and dislikes.  When we enter their homes and they enter ours, they see what is important to us by our collections, our pictures, and our possessions.  Sometimes I have learned that a brother and I have similar interests and hobbies when visiting with them.  When we open our houses and our lives to our brethren, we will develop deeper friendships and brotherly love.

When we share together, we learn some needs that our brethren have.  Going “house to house” is one of the best ways to develop a close relationship with his brethren.
Hospitality should extend beyond a close circle of friends.  It is easy to have people into our homes on a regular basis whose company we already enjoy, and this should not neglected.  However, the transformed life extends hospitality beyond those friends.  Consider Jesus’ admonition in Luke 14:12-14 to not invite those who can repay us back with a meal but invite those who most need it.  Their primary need might not be food but companionship.  Consider also this sober lesson from our Lord:

Matthew 5:46-47: “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?”

Christians must be willing to receive hospitality.  When a brother invites us into his home, we should be thankful and, if possible, accept that invitation.  Some people have a hard time accepting hospitality but we help other Christians fulfill their duty by allowing them to show their love towards us.  Just as we should graciously accept when they want to wash our clothes, mow our lawn, bring us food and other types of service when we are sick or otherwise in need, we must willingly receive hospitality. Some have such pride that would refuse the offers of kind brethren. We need to humble ourselves and allow them to fulfill their duty.  We will have a chance to repay hospitality and service shown to us by serving others.

Comforting the Grieving

Most of us have great difficulty when visiting the bereaved at their home or the funeral home.  After all, so great a tragedy has taken place, what can we do?  We feel helpless when trying to comfort the bereaved.

We must first remember to help the living.  We should show our brethren that we are concerned about them.  We can show our concern by visiting them, but also taking food to the family, washing clothes, preparing the clothes for the family to wear to the funeral, assisting with children, and other needful things.

We must also be mindful of our words.  We must remember that no word or phrase that will completely calm the mourner.  Note some phrases intended for comfort that can sometimes hurt:

  • “Time heals all wounds.”  Who wants to forget their loved one who has died?  Of course, things will get easier in time, but now it is not comforting.
  • “After a while you will forget.”  Again, who wants to forget their loved ones?
  • “He/She would have wanted you to…”  No one knows what a person would have truly wanted at such a time.  It is an empty and speculative phrase.
  • “What a great loss you have suffered.”  Pretty obvious statement.
  • (Unborn child) “At least it happened before the baby was born.”  (Someone really said to a friend of mine.)  The parents build a bond with a child even before the child is born.  It is no easier to lose a child in the first few months than it is after the child is born.

Perhaps the best thing that we can do during the time of grief is to say nothing.  A warm hug and a sympathetic ear are often the best comfort we can provide.  It is good to recall the deeds and the personal memories of the deceased.  It can comfort the living to know that their loved one meant so much to others.

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” –Matthew 25:44-46

Genuine Love vs. Affection

1 John 3:16-18:  “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

True love between brethren is expressed in actions.  Our love is not to be in what we say but what we do.  Love only expressed in word is of little value.  How can we love in word only?  Is our only interaction with fellow Christians at the worship service?  Perhaps we say we love others because we know that we are supposed to but, if our hearts were truly examined, would we only find affection, not true love?  Love that is in word requires no sacrifice of self, time, or money, demands no action, has no risk of being hurt, and needs no deep involvement with others.

Love that is in deed and truth, true love for our brethren, is on a higher level.  It requires action on our part, a show of love.  Christ showed His love, not by shouting His love from heaven, but by dying on the cross.  We show our love by our willingness to die for our brethren.  We may say that we have this love but we must demonstrate it.  Consider John’s example:  If you say that you would lay your life down for your brethren but you will not give of your possessions to help your needy brother, how does the love of God abide in you?  What a profound question!  When we think we love our brethren as Christ loved us, we must immediately ask how the love of God abides in us.  We must prove it.

John pictures a brother in need and a fellow Christian locking up his possessions by first locking up his heart.  If his heart is not with his brother, the resources he has to fill his needs will not be given.  Let us not be narrow regarding the needs of the brother.  Perhaps the brother has emotional needs; do we lock up friendship, a word of comfort, or a sympathetic ear?  If our brother has spiritual needs, do we lock up a gentle rebuke, exhortation from Gods’ word, or a prayer?  Maybe the brother does need our worldly goods: a car ride to church or to the doctor, a meal in a time of sickness or bereavement, or financial help.  We must unlock our possessions, time, and even our selves and help our brethren.  According to Paul, that is why we work: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need,” Ephesians 4:28 (emphasis mine-rfd).